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How To Change A Visa Status in Germany?

an aerial shot in Germany.

Changing visa status can mean a lot of stress, such as organizing all paperwork and paying additional costs. The good news is that switching between different visas or residence permits is possible in Germany. In fact, it’s a very common process foreigners need to go through while living in Germany. The bad news is that some visas and residence permits have restrictions and limitations when it comes to extension or change.

Generally, changing your visa status in Germany is possible if all requirements are met. However, tourist can’t change their visa. They will need to leave Germany and apply for an appropriate visa from their country of residence.

In this post, you will find out when it’s possible to change visa status in Germany and when it’s not, as well as all related to visas and residence permit information.

How do you change your visa status in Germany?


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Living as a foreigner in Germany can be challenging, especially regarding visas and residence permits since they are strictly regulated and require a lot of paperwork.

As you might know, everyone who holds a passport from a non-EU country needs a visa to enter Germany and a resident permit to stay longer than 3 months. Citizens of non-EU countries also need a visa to enter Germany (with some exceptions, see below).

If you are already in Germany on one particular visa or residence permit and want to continue your stay or change the purpose of your visit, you need to be aware of some things.

Firstly the typical tourist Schengen visa can’t be extended or exchanged in Germany. It’s the most common case when people travel to Germany on a tourist visa and decite to stay longer, but there is simply no way for this.

In almost 100% of cases, they will need to travel to their home country and apply for another type of German visa. This process can take up to 6 weeks.

If you are staying on another type of visa (long-term visa), authorities will need to examine all your current and future resident permit details.

They will check whether the residence title is still valid or can be extended, whether another type of residence title might be more appropriate and whether you fullfill all requirements.

General information

To understand your opportunities, we need to look at all possible residence titles which exist in Germany. There are just 5 of them:

  1. Visa
  2. Residence permit
  3. Settlement permit
  4. EU long-term residence permit
  5. EU Blue Card

Residence permits are available within Germany. They will be granted only if the applicant meets specific criteria. All types of visas usually have to be obtained at the German embassy in the applicant’s home country.

You need to apply for a visa or residence permit, which is related to your purpose of stay. Each visa and residence permit has its purpose of visit or status. This usually falls into one of the following four categories:

1. Family reasons:

marriage, children joining their parents or parents joining their minor children, family members joining other family members

2. Education or study:

e.g., school attendance, professional qualification, or university studies

3. Compensated activities:

e.g., highly qualified, temporary or other employment, self-employment, research activities, or intra-company transfers

4. Reasons of international law or humanitarian and/or political reasons:

asylum, subsidiary protection, any other protection, or temporary suspension of deportation

So if any of these reasons cause a change in your visa, there is a high chance that you can exchange your current visa/residence permit for the new one.

You will most likely need to change your health insurance in Germany when changing a visa because you might no longer be eligible for a particular policy.

The price plays a huge role when selecting an insurance company; hence, we have conducted this in-depth article about the cheapest health insurance in Germany.

How can you change It?

The most crucial requirement is that the conditions for issuing another residence permit are met.

For example, for the working residence permit, you will need a signed contract from the employer, or for a student permit, you will need an acceptance letter from the university. But of course, there is much more to the requirements than just that.

If requirements are met, you can apply and receive a new residence permit within Germany without even leaving the country.

If your previous residence permit or visa expires soon, you will receive a Fiktionsbescheinigung, allowing you to stay up to 3 months in Germany without a visa.

In this Fiktionsbescheinigung worker of the immigration office will write down your name, dates from and till when it’s valid, and which residence permit you have applied for. You can also travel abroad with Fiktionsbescheinigung.

picture of immigrant visa.

International students have advantages

Germany tries to help international students stay and boost the local economy even more after finishing their degrees. In the last years, the country has issued thousands of working residence permits for graduates with even self-employment permission.

Also, participants in vocational training have some benefits in Germany. They will receive a working residence permit for up to 2 years with a possible extension after. The same period applies to university graduates.

Who can’t change visa status in Germany?

Not always change in visa status is possible, even if all requirements are met. Some visas could be extended or changed under no circumstances; some have strict conditions and limitations.

If you are a non-EU citizen and fall into one of these categories, then you can’t change your visa or apply for a residence permit in Germany:

  • Students of language schools/courses
  • Asylum applicants
  • Rejected asylum seekers
  • Schengen visa holders (tourists)

*Change is possible only in exceptional cases. That said, your visa status can still be exchanged under particular requirements and as part of more unusual cases.

Tourists can’t apply for a visa from Germany or change their tourist status on some other, the rule is strict, and there are no exceptions.

They always need to go back home and apply at the German embassy for a national visa D if they want to stay longer than a tourist visa (3 months).

Visa D has different purposes for staying in Germany. Therefore you need to choose one which fits you (see purposes below).

Who can change visa status in Germany?

a group of friends chatting and laughing.

These changes in visa status are generally possible. Some of them are allowed only under particular conditions. If you are a student and want to receive a working residence permit, you must finish your studies first and get a diploma/qualification.

These changes are possible for the following categories of residents:

  • University students:
  1. Woking permits after they have completed the study program in Germany and received qualifications.
  2. Residence permit for Research – a completed degree is required, but not necessarily German.
  3. EU Blue Card – completed degree is required, but not necessarily German.
  4. Freelance work or Self Employment – completed a degree in Germany is required.

Usually, it’s no problem for students to change their student permit after finishing their study program to stay and work in the country without having to leave.

If a university student wants to change their student residence permit for a residence permit with reason to participate in professional training (Ausbildung). It’s still possible; the only profession they want to go after must be on the shortage list.

  • Trainees/Participants in vocational training:
  1. Residence permit for study
  2. EU Blue Card – completed degree is required, but not necessarily German.
  3. Working permit – after they have completed the study program in Germany and received qualifications, or in case they already have recognized in Germany diplomas and certificates as well as job offers.
  4. Freelance Work or Self-Employment – completed degree is required.

In the same way as students, participants of professional training can change their permit to a work permit after they have completed the training and received a qualification.

  • EU Blue Card
  1. All changes mentioned above are allowed
  • Woking visa/permit
  1. All mentioned above permits are allowed
  1. Change to all mentioned above permits are allowed
  • Self-employed/Owner of the company
  1. Change to all mentioned above permits are allowed
  • Family reasons/Spouse

This residence permit is granted to people who move to Germany for family reasons, such as children and spouses of someone who is going to or already working in Germany, as well as people who marry a German.

  1. Change to all mentioned above permits is allowed.

However, when changing from this visa status to any other mentioned above, residents can lose some social benefits. For example, when switching to a student visa, they can lose financial support from the government if they have been taking one or planning to take it.

As you can see, changes in visa status depend on your current visa/permit. Generally, if you are on a long-term visa (type D) in Germany, you should change the visa status or your purpose of stay.

Read more in detail about changing visas in Germany here.

Who can apply for a visa within Germany?

passport of United States of America.

Usually, if you are from non-EU countries, you must apply for your first German visa from your home country. After staying in Germany on that visa, you can apply for a residence permit or change your visa status within Germany.

However, citizens of some countries have privileges when it comes to the first visa application – they can do it from Germany and not necessarily from their home countries (although it’s still possible).

1. The list includes Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and the USA. These nationals don’t need a visa to enter Germany; they can apply for a residence permit if they want to stay longer for a particular reason.

But there must be a reason. You can’t just apply for a permit to stay in the country and do your thing.

Moreover, for these nationals, a change in visa status is fundamentally possible; it doesn’t matter which status their current and future resident permit has.

2. Additionally, citizens of Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, and San Marino also have some advantages. They can apply for a residence permit from Germany even if they arrive on a tourist visa.

Also, for people from these countries, changes in visa status are generally possible, except for working or vocational training permits, unless the profession falls into the shortage list.

How to apply for a new visa for Germany?

Firstly you need to be aware that online application isn’t possible, and you always need to appear personally at the embassy in your country or in the immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) of your city in Germany.

For every resident permit, there are different requirements, but the basics are that Germany wants to see if you have:

  • enough money to stay in the country for the length of the permit
  • you have health insurance (it’s a must in Germany)
  • you have a roof over your head

In order to apply for any German visa, you need proof of valid health insurance in Germany. Embassies and immigration offices don’t require comprehensive coverage, and a simple expat/incoming insurance from Feather is enough.

Financial stability can be provided in different ways:

  • bank statement with at least 10,000 EUR on the account
  • sponsorships
  • a working contract that outlines a salary
  • income, funds, property, and the financial situation of the parents
  • scholarship

What about fees for the visa application? Firstly you need to apply from your home country for a national visa, which costs 75 EUR.

If it’s your first German visa, you will need to apply for a residence permit within the 3 months after arrival in Germany.

Fees for the residence permit vary depending on the purpose of the stay. It starts at 100 EUR and ends at 250 EUR. That is actually very affordable if you compare it, for example, with permits in the UK.

And also, don’t forget that many residence permits are issued only for one year, so you will need to pay this price annually.


people crossing streets in Germany.

Change of residence titles and purposes is a common practice in Germany. Often, foreigners change from a study residence permit to a residence or permanent residence permit for employment purposes, an EU Blue card, or a residence permit for family reasons.

Generally, if requirements for the following visa are fulfilled, it’s possible to make a change even within Germany. Some groups of people are affected by limitations and restrictions on visa changes:

  • students
  • participants in vocational training
  • persons ongoing asylum procedure
  • rejected asylum seekers
  • Schengen visa holders

Also, keep in mind that tourist and language course visas cannot be converted into student visas by any means!

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