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How to Extend a German Visa

Extending a German visa is vital for those who face unexpected complications during their stay in Germany. The Coronavirus pandemic demonstrated how unexpected forces can majorly impact an individual’s plans. It can be complicated to extend a German visa (both short- and long- visas) whereby applicants need to fulfil the specified criteria. Advice from German immigration law experts is the surest way to ensure the successful extension of your German visa. This page will provide insight into the process of extending specific visas.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our immigration lawyers support clients worldwide concerning extending German visas. Our dedicated team of immigration law specialists advises both corporate and private clients on the options available to them. In addition, our team will support you in resolving disputes with immigration authorities as we have huge experience dealing with German bureaucracy. Contact us today to find out more about how you can extend your German visa.

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Expert assistance and advice from immigration specialists allows you to extend a German visa

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When Should You Apply to Extend Your Residence Permit

As a temporary residence permit holder in Germany, you will need to extend your permit when approaching the expiration period if you wish to stay in Germany longer. The German authorities do not generally warn you of the approaching expiration. Therefore residence permits need to be aware of the applicable dates themselves. It is advisable to apply for the extension of your residence permit around 8-10 weeks before the expiry date. It can take the German authorities a few weeks to assess your case, and therefore, delays can be damaging to you. Staying in Germany beyond the period of your residence permit can lead to legal problems.

The expiration of residence permits is regulated under § 51 German Residence Act and provides the following grounds for the expiry of the residence permit:

  • with the expiry of its period of validity,
  • upon withdrawal of the residence title,
  • upon revocation of the residence title,
  • if the permit holder is expelled from Germany,
  • upon the announcement of a deportation order (§ 58a German Residence Act),
  • should the permit holder leaves Germany for a reason which is not of a temporary nature,
  • if the permit holder leaves Germany and fails to re-enter it within six months or a more extended period set by the immigration authority,
  • if a foreigner applies for asylum after being granted a residence title (§§ 22-25 German Residence Act)

Difficulties with the Extension of Residence Permits

If you apply on time and have all your paperwork in order, you will reduce the potential problems with the extension of your residence permit. However, if your employment or study status changes or if you face a divorce or separation, then it is advisable to contact our lawyers.

Changes in marital status, in particular, can lead to significant complications for a person’s residence permit should their German residency have been built upon that foundation. There are protections to prevent divorced non-EU citizens from losing their German residence permit (§ 31 German Residency Act). However, if the couple has been married for three years in Germany, the non-EU partner’s residence permit is based on § 28 German Residency Act. In this case, the partner will likely be granted an extra year of residency – particularly if there is no reason not to give it – following the end of the marriage. During the additional year, the partner is best advised to find another way to stay in Germany. Other means can be with a change of job or by studying in Germany. Our article “Residence Permit After Divorce” outlines this legal area in greater detail. Should they gain another route to reside in Germany legally, it will be more straightforward to apply for an extension of their residence permit.

If you hold an EU Blue Card and you have lost your job, there is also no need to panic straight away. There is no requirement for the Cardholder to leave Germany, as the residence permit extension can still happen. You need to contact your local immigration authority/foreigners’ office and inform them of what has happened. You can make use of an extra three-month period in Germany (if you have worked with your company for over two years in Germany) to look for another job. If the contract ends before two years in the position has expired, you need to inform your local office as soon as possible. Your new job needs to reach the required salary levels to remain on the previous EU Blue Card, and this applies regardless of who initiated the change of employer. See our article on “The EU Blue Card and the Change of Employer” to find more on this issue.

Applying for the Extension of German Residence Permits

If you are applying for an extension of a German residence permit, then you will need the following documents:

  • National passport (valid and in-date),
  • Proof of health insurance cover,
  • Application form for the proposed extension,
  • Evidence that you can support yourself during the extension period.

Some documents will vary depending on your purpose for staying in Germany. If you are looking for an extension of a residence permit to study, you will require documents demonstrating that you are a student of the university in question. These documents may include letters of acceptance and letters from the university if you live in university accommodation. If your residence permit is based on your marital status, you may need to demonstrate a declaration of marital cohabitation.

Once collected, these documents need to be submitted to your local immigration authority. Make sure that your application is submitted per the stated deadlines. Following your documents’ submission, you may be asked to a personal interview to outline your case. With such an interview possible, the documents submitted must be legitimate.

If you require further legal assistance with applying for an extension of your residence permit, don’t hesitate to contact our lawyers directly. Moreover, if your application is rejected or if your deadline is approaching and you have had issues applying, make sure to contact us. We are highly experienced and have seen all residence permit issues before. We can work with you directly and oversee your application for extending your residence permit. Our lawyers will ensure that your visa extension application fulfils the requirements. Please contact us in good time to give us the best opportunity to deliver our services successfully.

The Schengen Visa is the most popular form of short-term visa for visiting Germany, and it allows its holder to stay in Germany for up to 90 days over a 180-day period. During this time, the individual has the opportunity to travel to other countries within the Schengen Zone. The Business Visa is a similar type of short-term visa and follows similar rules to the Schengen Visa. Overstaying a Schengen Visa without permission or legal assistance can cause severe difficulties for individuals. According to § 95, paragraph 1, no. 2 German Residence Act illegal overstays can result in criminal and administrative sanctions.

When applying for the extension of a German short-term visa, the following documents are required:

  • Application form: for the short-term visa extension,
  • Passport: This passport must also have been used for the current short-term visa,
  • One photo: which is according to all the visa photo requirements.
  • Proof of Income: Demonstrate that you can financially support yourself during the intended extended period,
  • Proof of Travel Health Insurance – that covers the whole Schengen Area for the intended extension period,
  • Documents to demonstrate the situation in question and thus the need to get a visa extension.

Extending a Business or Schengen Visa is possible, but there are challenges inherent in it. Should you engage in specialised assistance, our lawyers will advise you clearly on whether your reasoning will be sufficient for the German immigration authorities. However, the candidate must make the application for the extension of the visa before its expiration date. Therefore, even if your reasons are justified for extending the German visa, applications past the expiration estate will likely be considered overstaying the visa.

Reasons for Extending a Short-Term Visa in Germany

There are only limited reasons in place that allow for the extension of German visas. Therefore, when applying for the visa extension, it is crucial to demonstrate that this reason applies to your circumstances.

  • Late Entry: Late entry involves the applicant entering the Schengen Zone after their short-term visa has already started.
  • Humanitarian Reasons: Humanitarian reasons refer to cases where the applicant must remain in Germany to complete medical treatment or attend a funeral.
  • Force Majeure: The Coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated how a “force majeure” element can occur. Force majeure is also known as “an act of God”, and as such, is an event beyond the applicant’s control. The pandemic, whereby entry into numerous countries worldwide was restricted, is one example of a force majeure event. However, other events such as extreme weather conditions preventing flights, natural disasters such as earthquakes, a dangerous domestic situation arising in the applicant’s home country and even wars occurring can also be force majeure. Once the problem has calmed down, the applicant should be able to travel home, but some events can take a much longer time, as the pandemic demonstrated.
  • Personal Reasons: The last option for individuals looking to extend their short-term German visa is “personal reasons”. However, cases arguing “personal reason” are decided by the German immigration authorities by an interview process. Therefore, for the applicant to use these grounds, they need a valid reason for doing so. Please consult with our lawyers to determine how this can be argued.

To apply for a visa extension in Germany, the candidate must submit their application to the Foreigners’ Registration Office closest to their current residence in Germany. The processing time can take up to one month, and during this time, the applicant needs to remain in Germany and cannot visit other Schengen countries. If your application is based on force majeure or humanitarian reasons, there is no visa extension cost. However, if the extension claim is based on personal reasons or late entry, then there is a small fee that the applicant needs to pay.

It is possible to extend an EU Blue Card in Germany; however, as the EU Blue Card can often lead to permanent residency, there is less demand for extending it. The EU Blue Card permits its holder to reside in Germany for four years, and it is possible to apply for German permanent residency after 33 months, or 21 months if they can demonstrate a B1 German level. German language proficiency is not a requirement for the original application for the EU Blue Card, but it is helpful to possess to speed up permanent residency. Should EU Blue Cardholders require it, it is possible to extend the card for another four years.

The EU Blue Card is generally issued for a maximum of 4 years or the duration of the employment contract. However, if your employment contract is reduced or has been issued for a shorter period, then the EU Blue Cardholder allows its holder to stay an extra three months in Germany. During this time, they can apply for jobs and search for another position that fulfils the EU Blue Card requirements. The EU Blue Cardholder can also change jobs during that time. Under current regulations, in the first two years of employment, the EU Blue Cardholder needs to inform and get authorization from the immigration services within Germany. If they are looking to change jobs and take up work in another EU country, they can apply for this after 18 Months.

Applying for the EU Blue Card extension involves demonstrating that you still fulfil the residence permit’s requirements. This means fulfilling the following conditions:

  • Education: The applicant needs to possess a university (or higher education) degree comparable to a German equivalent. Applicants can use online resources such as Anabin to determine this equivalence and recognition of foreign higher education degrees. The job in Germany should be based on the degree you have acquired.
  • Job Offer: EU Blue Card applicants need to have a concrete job offer ready in Germany. In the case of extending the EU Blue Card, the company in Germany offers an extended employment contract or seeks to keep you in employment longer. Of course, if you are looking to change your job, the new position needs to fulfil the requirements of the EU Blue Card concerning salary and be in your area of expertise.
  • Salary requirements: the position in Germany needs to reach or exceed the salary requirements for the EU Blue Card. The gross salary requirements change on an annual basis, and therefore the salary that was sufficient when starting in the position may not reach the threshold in 2021 or 2022. Please note that in positions where there are work shortages, such as in the fields of mathematics, IT, natural sciences, engineering and human medicine, the salary requirements are reduced.

The EU Blue Card can be removed in cases where the EU Blue Cardholder’s employment position no longer satisfies the requirements. The residence permit can also be removed in cases where they have committed fraud or forgery in their application, where their employer has committed fraud regarding the application and where their passport has expired without renewal.

Another long-term visa that allows its holder to reside and work in Germany is the Intra-Corporate Transfer Card (ICT Card). The ICT Card entitles its holder to be transferred from outside of the EU into a subsidiary, branch or another part of the same company that is in the EU. It is a residence permit designed for managers, specialists and trainees, and there are different lengths of time in Germany permitted for these different roles. The ICT Card is generally provided for the time of the transfer.

Extending this German visa is more complicated than some other forms of visas. When seeking to stay longer in Germany, the applicant needs to start a new application and leave Germany for a “cooling off” period of six months. When reapplying for the ICT Card, the maximum application duration is 90 days but usually takes much less time.

The application for the ICT Card must meet the following criteria for it to be valid:

  • The company you work for in your home country and the entity established in the EU State belong to the same undertaking or group,
  • The applicant must be a manager, specialist or trainee employee. The ICT Card is not valid for internships.
  • Applicants should possess the required professional qualifications.
  • The applicant needs to have been working for the company for at least six months uninterrupted.
  • The intra-corporate transfer needs to last for more than three months. Transfers below three months can be permitted with other short-term visas.
  • The applicant must have an employment contract for the transfer duration and an additional assignment letter to govern the transfer to the EU country.

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, there have been many difficulties for German residence permit holders. From university students and those in Germany on training programmes and German language learning programmes to employees who have had their hours reduced under short-time working allowance, many individuals have questions concerning their residence permit status. Here, we will outline what you can expect; however, individual matters are often resolved in a particular situation. Our lawyers advise on immigration and residence permit issues and provide specialised counsel on extending your residence permit.

Students: If the coronavirus restrictions have led to you needing an extension of your residence permit to study, you will need to inform the immigration authorities in Germany. This need to extend your residence permit may be due to the restrictions on teaching and how exams are conducted. The immigration authority will consider the reason for your need for an extension. Consider contacting our firm directly if you require expert analysis of your situation.

Employees: It may be the case that you have lost your job due to the current pandemic, and your residence permit is based on your employment status. Just as with the EU Blue Card recommendations above, it is essential to contact your local immigration authority as soon as possible and inform them of these developments. They have some level of discretion when it comes to how to respond to this expiry. If they require you to demonstrate your case as to why you should stay longer, consider contacting our legal team in advance. Such decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

Short-Time Working Allowance: If you have been moved to a short-time working allowance according to Covid-19 guidelines for businesses, you can be reassured that it is unlikely to damage your chance at the extension of your residence permit. Suppose you have arrived on an EU Blue Card or on a residence permit where a certain income level is demanded. In that case, it is expected that you will return to a similar income level following the conclusion of these measures.

Our article on the “Extension of German Visas: Covid-19 Coronavirus” outlines in greater detail the impact of Covid-19 on the extension of German residence permits.

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Practice Group: German Immigration Law

Practice Group:
German Immigration Law

Aykut Elseven

Lawyer | Managing Partner