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Legal Matters

Prior to entering Germany, you should read the relevant regulations on entry, residence and finding employment that apply to you as a doctorate from abroad. We have compiled some information for you here. You will find further information on the following pages:

Department for Immigrant Affairs of the City of Münster

Department of Foreign Affairs

Federal Agency of Migration and Refugees

Euraxess Germany

The legal texts that are at the basis of the regulations on entry, residence and employment are provided online by the Federal Department of Justice. For EU-citizens, this is the “Law concerning the general freedom of movement of EU-citizens” (link in German). For citizens of non-EU-countries, this is the “Law concerning the residence, employment and integration of foreigners on federal territory” (link in German).

Entry and residence

Permissions for residence in the Federal Republic of Germany are granted either as visas or residence permits. A visa permits entry and short-term residence of generally 90 days (3 months). A residence permit is necessary for longer periods of residence. Not all visas can be transformed into permissions for residence for longer periods of residency. Therefore, it is essential that you find out which visa is right for you and which verifications are necessary for it prior to departure.

Entry

If you enter the Federal Republic of Germany for a doctoral program, you usually need a student visa. You can apply for this kind of visa at the German consulate or embassy in your home country. We strongly discourage you from entering with a tourist visa, since this visa cannot be changed into a residence permit or visa for students afterwards.
There are a few exemptions to the visa obligation for students and doctorates, namely if you are a citizen of an EU-country or of a few other countries. You will find further information regarding these exemptions on the homepages of the Federal Agency of Migration and Refugees and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Residence

After entry to Germany, international doctoral students must report to the responsible aliens department and apply for a student residence permit. The application must be made before the student visa expires. If there is no visa obligation for the doctoral student, a residence permit needs to be applied for within three months of entry. The student residence permit is only valid for a certain time period and must be regularly renewed. It is only valid for the subject and place of study it was applied for and granted in.
Exceptions: Citizens of EU-countries and the European Economic Area have freedom of movement within the EU. This means that they do not need a residence permit, even if their residence exceeds three months. They do, however, need to obtain a certificate of freedom of movement.

Requirements for this are sufficient resources and health insurance. The certificate of freedom of movement is granted by the Department for Immigrant Affairs of the City of Münster. You can find further information here.

Compulsory Registration

Everyone who moves to Münster must register with the Citizen Center within seven days of his or her move. This registration is compulsory for Germans as well as foreigners. You can find further information here (link in German).