How to Get German Freelance Visa From India (or any non-EU Country)
Last updated on January 12th, 2023 at 04:55 pm
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! Read this post to learn how Indian (or any Non-EU) nationals can apply for a German freelance visa.
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.
Based on the information shared by the German consulate in India and my experience with other non-EU freelancers I have put together this short guide.
Here is how you prepare and apply for a German freelance visa from India (or any non-EU/ 3rd country)
Continue Reading or watch the video explanation here:
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 residence permit for living and freelancing in Germany without needing a German entry visa.
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 permit for freelancing as any other non-EU citizen. If your country is NOT on the above list, then you will have to apply for your German freelance visa from the country of your residence.
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 a German freelancer visa from India, points 1 and 2 are the most relevant for you.
This means you have to convince your visa officer that your professional skills have some demand 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 contributions.
You can prove this to your visa officer by showing letters of interest from 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 from German clients, start several months in advance.
Start getting in touch with businesses based in Germany and pitch your services. You can use traditional online job boards, but there are plenty of lesser-known alternatives for freelance, remote AND English-speaking jobs in Germany.
Here are the top websites where you can find freelance gigs in Germany
2. Prepare your German freelance visa application
Here is a step-by-step guide to preparing your German freelancer visa application from India.
2.1) Prepare the 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 finally has a checklist for a German self-employment visa.
Click on the checklist to find out the documents required for your German freelance visa from India.
As per the official guideline, here is the set of documents that you should prepare for the German freelance visa category. Bring both originals and prepare 2 identical sets of the following documentation for your visa:
- Valid passport (issued within the last 10 years and valid for at least another year as of the date of the visa application; passports with observations on the front data page cannot be accepted) with at least two empty pages
- Application form & declaration (in accordance with Section 54 of the Residence Act) duly signed (2 copies)
- Declaration regarding additional contact and legal representation information (2 copies)
- Copy of your passport’s data page (A4 size copy) (2 copies)
- A well-structured and detailed description of your planned freelance employment, supported by fee contracts and/or letters of intent (2 copies)
- Curriculum vitae (2 copies)
- Proof of qualification, e.g. university degree, training certificate, experience certificates, reference letters (2 copies)
- Proof of available capital (2 copies)
- Revenue forecast (2 copies)
- If applicable: further supporting documents depending on the specific case (2 copies), such as:
For applicants seeking employment in a regulated profession: original permission to exercise a profession (Berufsausübungserlaubnis) issued by the competent recognition body (for further information on regulated professions and the competent authorities, please check https://www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de/en/interest/finder/profession)
- Rental contract, if already concluded
- Proof of business contacts in the relevant professional field in Germany/Europe
- Degree from a state or a state-recognised higher education institute or comparable training institution in Germany
- Proof of secure means of subsistence for at least one year (2 copies)
- If you are 45 years or older: evidence of adequate retirement benefits (e.g. offer from a private pension or life insurer, own assets, acquired pension rights or operating assets); ultimately, at the age of 67, you must have either a monthly pension of 1280.06 euro payable for at least 12 years or assets totalling 187,682.00 euro (2 copies)
- 3 passport photos complying with biometric specifications, not older than 6 months
- Visa fee of 75 euros in INR only (please check the embassy’s website for payment options and current exchange rates)
- Health insurance. Please provide ONE of the following:
• Proof of private German health insurance which starts at your tentative travel date
• Proof of public German health insurance, which consists of a letter from your German healthcare provider, and additionally a travel health insurance from your travel date up to the starting date of the public German health insurance.
• Proof of a private foreign (including Indian) health insurance mentioning the specific policy you chose which starts at your tentative travel date
When does health insurance meet the requirement of being equivalent to German public health insurance?
• No limit to the reimbursement in case of sickness
• If the insured person becomes sick, no deductible higher than 300 € per year can be demanded
• Preexisting conditions must be included
• No clause for termination regarding the insured person reaching a certain age, change of residence permit or loss of residence permit
• The Insurance cover cannot have any time limit (or needs to be automatically renewed)
Here you can find the visa office-approved expat health insurance plans in Germany.
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2.2) Use the right visa form
To apply for a German freelancer visa from India you need a long-term visa application form. It is called ‘Antrag auf Erteilung eines nationalen Visums‘ or Application for a national visa.
There are two ways to fill out this form.
- Online directly through the German embassy’s online visa application platform.
- Print a paper version that you can download from the website of the German consulate in India.
German National Visa is usually issued for three months, but in some cases, it can also be issued for up to twelve months.
Once you arrive in Germany, a German residence permit can be issued after entry into Germany.
This D visa is valid for short stays in other Schengen countries. 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. Make Your Appointment
For a 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.
4. Pay The Visa Fee
Payment methods for visa fees can differ from country to country. It will be best to check the official German embassy in your country to confirm this.
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 form like cash or credit card. You pay this fee at the time of the visa interview.
5. 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.
6. Track Your Application and Wait For The Decision
Once your visa interview is over, you can track your application online.
According to the FAQs, the standard processing time for a self-employment visa (incl. a German freelancer visa) can take up to 12 weeks. Sometimes, the duration of the application procedure may even take longer than mentioned.
You will receive an email update when a decision has been shared with the Visa Application Centre.
After a decision has been made on the 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 (or pretty much any third country).
Congratulations! Now you are ready to launch your freelance career in Germany.
Next Steps: Arrive in Germany and Register Yourself as a Freelancer
Have you applied for a German freelance visa from India? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.
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This blog is informative and to the point. I have been looking everywhere on the internet to find a step-by-step guide on applying for a German Freelance Visa from India.
Even their official website https://www.make-it-in-germany.com does not make it very clear. So thank you very much for this information.
Would you mind me asking you a question? I want to know if my USA employer provides the letter of intent. Do they consider it, or do they need that letter to be from a German employer only?
Also, do you know anyone who can help me professionally in this matter?
Hello Atish, thank you for the kind words 🙂
When you say employer, do you mean a client? Because if you work for an employer then you won’t be considered as a freelancer but as an employee. Maybe you can ask your US employer to change your contract and hire you as a freelancer instead.
You can also get the letter of intent from potential German clients (again, not employers) – it definitely improves your chances to get the visa.
If you need some help, I’d recommend hiring an immigration lawyer, although I don’t think they’re necessary for simple visa applications 🙂
Good luck with everything!
Thank you for your prompt reply! I really appreciate it!
Yes, I mean my US client. Actually, I run a small Software development company here. I was thinking to registered my company in Germany, but then I thought freelance would be a good choice.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any clients in Germany. Hopefully, that won’t be a problem.
Hope to find a German client soon!
Thank you once again!
Sure, happy to help 🙂
If your company has multiple clients (regardless of their country) you should be fine. German clients are obviously a huge plus for your application.
Good luck! Yamini
Manish Paul Simon
I’m so glad I stumbled on your blog and youtube channel. It’s super helpful for those getting started!
I wanted to ask you about the “one cover or motivation letter.” Do you have any tips on how to write this properly? Like what we need to mention and what not.
The SOP letter to Universities or even PR is super important and many consultants give us some guidelines on how to write them properly. So I was wondering if it would be for the same for the freelancer visa as well.
Thanks in advance.
Hello Manish, Thank you for the kind words.
I don’t have any specific tips for the cover letter because I wasn’t required to write it for my application. But if it’s like any other cover letter, I’d briefly describe my relevant experience and skills as a freelancer and how it could benefit clients in Germany.
Sorry, I can’t be of any more help with this 🙂
Thank you for providing such an incredible information.
I am planning to apply freelance visa from India and for that I want to consult some more things and scenarios. How can I reach to you privately?
I would be really appreciable if possible.
Yamini, loved your blog. The content is so relevant and practical. I intend to move to Germany from Dubai next year and freelancing is an option that I am seriously considering. I learnt a lot from your blog and I am so grateful for all the information you have shared.
Wish you the best, Yamini!
I’m so happy to hear this! 🙂 I hope all goes well for you next year. Please feel free to get in touch if you need some insider tips 😀 Best of luck with your move! Yamini
Thanks Yamini! Would you be able to share with me some information on how I can go about my apartment search? You have mentioned that at the visa application stage showing an Airbnb booking should suffice. Would a month long Airbnb booking be good enough? I intend to look for my own place as soon as I get there. Any tips on that? popular website for apartment search?
Also does the freelancer visa, converted to a permanent resident visa, eventually lead to citizenship?
Thanks a bunch, Yamini!
I have heard from other expats that they used services like Airbnb and Wunderflats. I’m neither speaking from personal experience nor is this from an official source so YMMV! 🙂 You can also check some Facebook groups for expats in Germany and gather more info on this.
Freelance visa can lead to permanent residency and citizenship, there are several conditions that need to be fulfilled for this though. 🙂
Thanks Yamini. I will bother you with my questions as and when they pop up.
You are doing an amazing job and i look forward to staying in touch with you.
Thank you so much, Sajini 🙂 And good luck with everything!
I read your blog. I applied for a freelance visa this year and I got the approval. I have received my physical stamp but the invitation is only vaiid for 3 months subject to clause . I don’t know what the procedure is after. Apart from the house registerations amd bank account and otehr stuff .. is one required to go through the entire visa process there again?
You didn’t mention this in your comment, but I’m assuming the 90-day visa is issued to you from outside Germany. In this case, you have an entry visa right now. When you arrive in Germany, you need to apply for a residence permit in whichever city you are going to live in Germany. That is done at the local foreigners’ office (you can find this by googling it).