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The Rules for Visas and Health Insurance in Germany

By Carolin Schlack

Exchange schemes and collaborative programmes have long been a normal part of the research and education sector in the EU. However, the aim as stated is to work with researchers from all over the world. Germany has opened its borders to scholarship holders, researchers and well-qualified academics from non-EU countries.

The rules for visas and health insurance
If you are intending to spend an extended period in Germany, you should find out in advance what entry requirements your country has in place with the Federal Republic of Germany.
If you are an EU citizen, a citizen in the European Economic Area or Switzerland, no visa is required. Non-EU citizens generally need a visa unless the EU community has revoked the requirement. However, this only relates mainly to entry. To obtain permission for a longer stay in Germany, you need to check what rules apply to your native country. There is a summary of each different country's requirements at: www.euraxess.de»

What residence permits apply to researchers?

If, as a non-EU citizen, you are planning a research visit of up to three months, you need a Schengen visa. If your research visit is longer than three months you need to apply for a national visa. You can apply for this visa at the German embassy in your native country. For information and addresses, go to www.auswaertiges-amt.de»

If you do not require a visa (citizens of the EU, the Economic Area and Switzerland) but your stay extends past three months, you need to notify the local residents' registration office. You will need to present a valid travel document there, some passport photos for various documents, your birth and marriage certificates, any copies of references and other academic certificates, insurance papers, if possible with a German and English translation, a confirmation of your health insurance and your vaccination certificate. These documents are required before you can be given a freedom of movement certificate.

The labour market situation for EU countries

Citizens from the EU, the EEA and Switzerland, and citizens from countries that have a specific agreement with the EU (see above, "Entry requirements") must have a residence permit before they can be issued with a work permit. When you enter Germany you can apply for a residence permit from the relevant aliens department. You can only look for work when this has been granted. Transition regulations have been drawn up for citizens from Eastern European EU member states. These provide for limited access to the German labour market. In these cases, the labour agency concerned will issue a work permit.

Employees from non-EU / EEA countries

Basically, foreign citizens from countries that do not belong to the EU, the EEA or Switzerland need a residence permit. If you wish to do a doctorate, pursue a scholarship or take up a research post in Germany, these facts must be taken into consideration by the residence permit. From the very start, highly-qualified persons, scientists and specialists are given permits for a long-term stay. Likewise, family members are given a residence permit which entitles them to work.

Health insurance is important for scholarship holders

Scholarship holders are obliged to have health insurance, but in Germany you can only get private insurance. If you already have health insurance in your own country, that insurance may continue to be valid for your stay in Germany. So you need to check whether there is a social insurance agreement between Germany and your country. If you need to find health insurance in Germany, the different conditions, type and duration of the scholarship need to be taken into account. There is more information on this on the homepage of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)»

Insurance for research visits

In Germany you are obliged to get insurance from a health insurance company. Not only employees, but also researchers and their family members, must be members of a health insurance scheme. Your employment contract will define the statutory contributions to the health fund. Both employer and employee usually pay half of the contribution. If you are an employee, you can obtain more information from the German Health Insurance Liaison Agency (DKVA)».
If you work at a university, you can get more information from the student union's social information office or from your university's academic foreign office.

academics.com :: March 2008