Are you an Indian national and wondering if it is possible to apply for a German freelance visa from India? The answer is an astounding, YES!
The German embassy in India does not specify freelance or artist visa category. It does not mean that Indian nationals do not have this option at all.
I get a lot of messages from people interested in freelancing in Germany. Many of them are from India and other south-east Asian countries.
I applied for my German freelance visa after I finished my master’s degree in Germany. So even though I am a third country non-EU national, my visa process was somewhat different from those located outside Germany.
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Recently I stumbled upon a bright young woman from India who had successfully received her freelance visa from India, Mumbai. I ended up approaching her and learned about her visa experience.
Based on the information shared by her and my experience with other non-EU freelancers I have put together this short guide.
Before going further here is an important distinction between a German entry visa and a residence permit for citizens of Non-EU countries.
Citizens of certain Non-EU nations, namely Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, and the United States may enter Germany without applying for an entry visa from their respective countries. These nationals can apply for a permit for living and freelancing in Germany without needing a German entry visa.
If you are a citizen from one of the above countries, then you can read this comprehensive German freelance visa guide by All About Berlin here.
The citizens of the rest of the world (also known as third-country nationals) need to apply for a German entry visa from their home countries. Once they have entered Germany they can apply for a German residence and freelance permit as any other non-EU citizens. If your country is NOT in the above list, then you will have to apply for your German freelance visa from the country of your residence.
Here is how you prepare and apply for a German freelance visa from India
1. Prepare Early – Search for Clients in Germany
As a German freelance visa applicant, you have to demonstrate that your skills are in demand in Germany. German Act on the Residence, Economic Activity and Integration of Foreigners in the Federal Territory clearly states that:
(1) A foreigner may be granted a temporary residence permit for the purpose of self-employment if
- an economic interest or a regional need apply,
- the activity is expected to have positive effects on the economy and
- the foreigner has personal capital or an approved loan to realise the business idea.
If you are applying for this visa as a freelancer, points 1 and 2 are the most relevant for you.
This means you have to convince your visa officer that you have potential clients in Germany. It is only fair! They want to make sure that you will be a valuable member of German society and pay taxes and other social security contribution. High skilled foreigners are not expected to rely on an already overburdened German social welfare system.
You can prove this to your visa officer by showing letters of interest by businesses based in Germany. If you already have a freelancing contract with a German business then that dramatically boosts your chances to get this visa.
If you do not have any letter of intent or contract yet, then start several months in advance.
Start getting in touch with businesses based in Germany and pitch your services. You can use the traditional online job boards, but there are plenty of lesser-known alternatives for freelance, remote AND English speaking jobs in Germany.
2. Use The Right Visa Form
As there is no specific visa form for freelance or self-employment, you can use the National Visa – D Category Form. The D visa is usually issued for three months, but in some cases, it can also be issued for up to twelve months.
Based on the D visa, a German residence permit may be issued after the entry in Germany.
This D visa is valid for short stays in other Schengen countries. You can download this for free on the website of the German consulate in India. Notice that this form does not have a ‘self-employment’ category under question 9 ‘Purpose of Stay in Germany’. In this case, you can select ‘other’ and specify clearly that you intend to take up self-employment in Germany.
3. Prepare Other Required Documents
As with any visa application you need to prepare a set of documents for your visa officer.
The website of the German Embassy in India, unfortunately, does not provide a checklist for self-employment visa.
In this case, your best option is to directly check with the embassy and get a list of the documents required for your German freelance visa from India.
As a guideline, here is the set of documents that you should prepare in any case for the German freelance visa category. Bring both originals and copies of these documents.
- Two copies of completely filled and signed National Visa – D Category Form
- Declaration of true and complete information (downloadable from the German Embassy’s website)
- Your biometric passport
- Recent biometric passport sized photographs
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Valid health insurance for freelancers in Germany (it is possible to take out an expat insurance policy for the first few months in Germany)
- Proof of accommodation in Germany (you may provide temporary accommodation like Airbnb, a hotel or a friend’s address.)
- One cover letter or motivation letter
- Letter(s) of intent (from German clients). If they are in English get them translated in German
- Contracts with German clients (if available)
- Detailed Professional Resume
- Recommendation letters from previous clients or employers
- Freelance Portfolio (You can print out screenshots of your business website or any projects that you have done)
- Profit – loss statements or tax declarations from past business years
- Proof of funds
- Bank statements
- Business or finance plan
As mentioned above, your visa application will look much more credible if you already have some letters of interest or contracts from potential German clients. Besides this, all freelancers are asked to submit a business plan.
4. Make Your Appointment
For German national visa, you will need to schedule an appointment for a mandatory personal interview at the German embassy of your jurisdiction.
It is possible to schedule this appointment online.
Before scheduling an appointment, make sure to choose the German embassy responsible for your place of residence. You can find the correct embassy here.
The embassy website also advises booking appointments as early as possible. The waiting time for an interview can exceed two months or even more.
5. Pay The Visa Fee
According to the guidelines by the German embassy in India you have to prepare your visa fee with a demand draft. This demand draft should not be older than two months. At the point of writing this guide, the visa fee cannot be paid in any other forms like cash or credit card. You pay this fee at the time of the visa interview.
6. Turn Up For Your Visa Interview
On the day of your appointment turn up at least 15 minutes earlier. Check and double-check that you have all your documents. Organise them neatly in a folder.
During your appointment, you will have to submit biometric information. This consists of your fingerprint and facial scan. Your visa officer will use a digital finger scanner and collect images of all 10 digits.
Without biometrics information, your visa application will not be processed.
7. Track Your Application and Wait For The Decision
Once your visa interview is over, you can track your application online. You will receive an email update when a decision has been shared with the Visa Application Centre.
After a decision has been made on German freelance visa application, you can pick up your documents from the Visa Application Centre. It is also possible to have your documents returned to you by courier for an additional fee.
So this is the process to apply for a German freelance visa from India.
Congratulations! Now you are ready to launch your freelance career in Germany.
Have you applied for a German freelance visa from India? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.