Germany Immigration Laws
U.S. citizens arriving in Germany for airport transit or business or tourist stays of up to 90 days must present a valid passport to immigration officials on arrival. Germany, however, does not require a visa for these situations. According to the German Embassy, however, other situations may require a visa.
Tourism and Visitors
If tourist trips or visits to relatives exceed 90 days, it is most expedient for the traveler to leave Germany for a short time, such as a day-trip to Austria or another neighboring country, then return in a few hours so the entry stamp on his or her passport shows a more recent date. If this is not possible, the traveler must apply for a residence permit and show a means of monetary support while in Germany.
U.S. citizens are allowed to enter Germany to look for a job. In this case, the traveler must obtain a visa, or residence permit. Job seekers can do this either before or after entering Germany. The Embassy or Consulate will forward the visa application to the Aliens' Office, and possibly the Work Office, for approval. The process takes up to three months and the visa will include a work permit. Upon arrival in Germany, the resident permit holder will then have to register in the country, where a final permit will be granted in German.
The documents a visa applicant must provide vary by the type of visa for which the applicant applies. Documents include, but are not limited to, the visa application; two passport photos; a valid passport; U.S alien registration card or resident visa, if applicable; certificate of good conduct from local U.S. police precinct; current bank statements; letter from insurance company stating coverage; proof of airline and hotel reservations; and a letter of intent from German employer or host. German immigration officials may require additional documents. Applicants must refer to the German Embassy or Consulate for specific documents needed for their particular type of visa.
Sometimes a visa applicant must pass a test for basic German skills, as in the case of foreign spouses of German citizens.
Fees for visas to Germany depend on the type of visa issued, but begin at $15.
Visa applicants must apply for visas in person to the German Embassy in Washington or a Consulate in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York or San Francisco.