Moving to Germany from India
Are you wondering how to relocate to Germany as an Indian citizen?
Germany is the fifth-largest economy in the world and has numerous higher education and job opportunities for motivated, high-skilled migrants. With a safe environment for families, robust social systems and high-quality medical care, it is no surprise that many foreigners want to migrate to Germany.
This page decodes some of the best long-term options for moving to Germany from India in 2021.
Long-term German visas for Indian citizens
All non-EU foreigners need a valid purpose for moving to Germany.
While there are a number of German visas that Indian passport holders can apply for, many of them are for short term visits only (such as tourist, job-seeker visa, language visas etc).
In this guide, however, I will only expand upon German visas for Indian citizens which can be extended for long-term resident permits and offer a possibility of a permanent residency after several years.
1. German Student Visa
Germany is one of the top destinations for international students. It offers a number of benefits to incoming students – world-class education standards, top of the league research facilities and low semester fees for all.
I have discussed some of the main reasons that make Germany a great destination for international students.
Indian citizens can apply for a German student visa if they have received a letter of admission for studying at a
- a German state university,
- a German university of applied sciences,
- a college of arts and music,
- other state-recognised higher education institution,
- a mandatory preliminary internship, or
- a state preparatory college ‘Studienkolleg’
What is a Studienkolleg?
A Studienkolleg is a public educational institution in Germany, Austria and Switzerland for students whose secondary school certificate is not recognised as equivalent to the Abitur.
It is a preparatory course or first-year program for academic studies at university.
Many international students have to take this course whose school-leaving certificate isn’t recognised in Germany. After completing this course international students have to take a test called “Feststellungsprüfung”.
Upon successfully passing this test, the student will get a certificate known as a ‘university entrance qualification’ which allows them to apply for university admission in Germany.
FAQs: German Student Visa For Indian Citizens
Many German public universities offer study programs in English. You don’t need to be fluent in German to study at a German university.
As an international student, you have more than 2,000 English-language bachelor’s and master’s programs to choose from across 200+ universities in Germany.
That said, it is advisable to learn some German (at least B1 level) to manage your day to day life without problem here.
Living in Germany is more expensive than Southern and Eastern European countries, but a bit cheaper than its Northern and Western European neighbours.
The average cost of living is around 850 euros per month for expenses such as rent, health and liability insurance, food and entertainment etc.
German state universities charge a semester fee between 100 and 350 EUR per semester.
Indian citizens can apply for a German student visa if they have received a letter of complete admission for studying at a German education institute.
Once you have the invitation to enrol in a course at a German higher education institute, you can begin your German student visa application process.
You should submit your German student visa application at the German embassy or consulate responsible for your constituency.
The outcome of your application depends on the information and the supporting documents you provide. These documents must be sent as originals, accompanied by two scanned copies of each.
Here are the documents you need to prepare for a German student visa from India:
- Two duly completed national visa application forms
- Valid national passport
- Two recently taken biometric portrait photographs
- Proof of admission into a study program in Germany. (Any of the following):
- University admission letter “Zulassungsbescheinigung”.
- Letter of admission in a foundation course at a Studienkolleg.
- Letter of admission in a preparatory German language course.
- Authenticated certificates of previous education: If you finished your school education in India, send the following documents:
- Recognized foreign academic qualification. It must show you have a qualification equally recognized as the German Abitur.
- Academic records or transcript.
- Curriculum vitae: Attach proof of any work experience or internships
- Proof of accommodation in Germany
- Means of subsistence “Finanzieruungsnachweis”: The proof that you have adequate finances to cover living, accommodation and study costs. (You can use any of the following).
- Blocked bank account: A blocked account is a special bank account where you deposit a specific amount of funds which have a monthly minimum withdrawal limit.
- Letter of commitment by a German resident “Verpflichtungserklärung“: A person living in Germany, declaring that they’ll cover your accommodation and/or other living costs while you’ll be here.
- Letter of a declaration by a parent: A written and signed declaration to support you financially during your stay here. It must be supplemented by their bank statements of the last 6 months.
- Scholarship awarding certificate: An official scholarship showing you as a receiver and the amount of financial coverage granted to you by this scholarship.
- A valid health insurance coverage: Your health insurance must have coverage of at least 30,000 EUR and it must be valid for at least 3 months. You can very easily get an affordable German health insurance policy via Fintiba.
- A motivation letter: You’ll have to express the reason for choosing the specific university and study program. Mention also your study and future plans and how these studies will be improving your career and life.
- Marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Children’s birth certificate (if applicable)
- Proof of payment for visa application fee: The fee is 60 EUR.
- Proof of German language proficiency: For German-only and mixed-language study programs.
- German Language University Entrance Examination for International Applicants (DSH).
- Test of German as a Foreign Language (TestDaF).
- Goethe Institute German Language Diploma (GDS).
- German Language Diploma of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, Level II (DSD).
- Proof of English language proficiency: For English and mixed-language study programs.
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): Required score –
- PbT (paper-based test) 550 Points,
- CbT (computer-based test) 213 Points
- IbT (internet-based test) 79-80 Points
- The International English Language Testing System (IELTS): Required score – 5 – 6.5
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): Required score –
A blocked account is a special type of bank account for international students in Germany, to prove you have enough funds to live in Germany for one year during your studies.
As of 1 January 2021, it is estimated that a foreign student in Germany spends an average of €861 euros per month at a minimum. So, you need to have at least €10,332 in your blocked bank account before applying for a German student visa.
Opening a German blocked account as proof of financial resources can speed up your student visa processing time.
However, many German banks ask for a proof of address in Germany, making it extremely hard to open a German bank account from India.
However, there are services for international students, such as Fintiba, that can liaise with German banks on your behalf and open a blocked German bank account for you. You only need your passport to open the Blocked Account through Fintiba.
A full health insurance policy is a mandatory requirement for any German national visa, so you will need to take out adequate coverage before your visa application from India.
Without proof of health insurance (public or private), getting a German visa from India will be very unlikely. However, you can easily book an affordable health insurance through Fintiba.
There are a number of ways to find a place to live in Germany.
1. Students halls of residence: Studentenwerk offers a number of affordable places for international students in their halls of residences.
There are only 194.000 places in halls of residence across Germany and a long waiting list so you must apply at least a few months before the start date of your course in Germany.
You can expect to pay an average monthly rent of 246 euros including all utility costs with Studentenwerk accommodations.
With a German student visa, Non-EU students can:
- Work part-time: You may work for up to 120 full days or 240 half days per calendar year.
- Work as a freelancer: According to § 21 paragraph 6 of the German Residence Act (AufenthG), non-EU students may freelance in Germany along with their studies. As a full-time student, you are permitted to work 120 days or 240 half-days. There’s no upper limit on your income. You will have to pay freelancer taxes once you cross a certain income threshold. You have to apply for a separate German freelance permit to be able to work as a freelancer in Germany.
- Extend your student residence permit: This is possible if you haven’t yet completed your planned studies within the visa period, and you’ll be completing them in a reasonable time.
The German student visa from India is valid for three months. Within this period, you should:
- fly to Germany
- apply for a longer residence permit to study
- register yourself as a resident in Germany
The maximum length of a full-time student residence permit is two years. You have an option to extend the residence permit depending on the length of your studies.
Non-EU graduates of a German university are eligible for an 18-months job seekers resident permit.
You can apply for this permit after you successfully graduate from your university.
With a job seekers resident permit, you can search for full-time employment or become self-employed in Germany. During this 18-month period, you are also allowed to take up a temporary/ side job while searching for a permanent job which directly matches your academic qualifications.
2. German Work Visa
A work visa is one of the most popular ways of moving to Germany from India.
A German work visa is granted to individuals who have a job offer from a German employer.
All Non-EU (including Indian) nationals can apply for a German employment visa if they fulfil the conditions to work in Germany.
Once you have found a job in Germany, you can also apply for the EU Blue card.
What is an EU Blue Card?
The EU Blue Card is the main residence permit for university graduates from abroad. It is a simple and unbureaucratic procedure geared to third-country nationals keen to put their talents to use in Germany.
These special permits are issued by EU member states to third-country nationals. The holder of an EU Blue Card is entitled to take up residence in the EU for the purpose of taking up gainful employment.
The EU Blue Card is designed particularly to attract highly qualified third-country nationals to jobs in occupations where there is a shortage of qualified personnel or where a shortage is likely to arise in future.
EU Blue Cardholders are entitled to a permanent residence permit after 33 months
Requirements of the EU Blue Card:
- You have a German degree, a recognised foreign higher education degree, or you have a foreign higher education degree that is comparable to German higher education degree.
- You already have a full-time job offer from a company in Germany.
- The position must be appropriate for someone with your qualifications (higher education degree).
- Applicants must have a job that would offer gross annual earnings for at least EUR 56,800 (in 2021). A gross annual salary of at least EUR 44,304 (in 2021) is required for employees in the fields of mathematics, IT, natural sciences, engineering and human medicine.
FAQs: German Work Visa For Indian Citizens
According to the German Residence Act, Indian citizens may apply for a German Employment Visa, if:
- they have a job offer in Germany and their employer is based in Germany
- they are qualified for the job
- they must have an approval from the ZAV. The ZAV must confirm that the position can’t be filled by a German or an EU citizen. Blue Card applicants do not need this preapproval from ZAV.
- they must have German health insurance
- they must have proof of accommodation
Any Indian nationals who meet the following criterion can apply for a German work visa from India.
- There is a shortage of skilled workers in the profession you want to practice in Germany
- You have a concrete job offer by a German employer
- Your education must be recognised and equivalent to a German degree
To get your German work visa from India you must prepare a number of documents for the caseworker at your German consulate.
You will need the following documents to apply for your German work visa application as an Indian citizen. Your caseworker may request you for additional or different documents since the individual cases can differ from one another.
- Two fully completed and signed German visa application forms
- Two passport photographs
- Valid national passport
- An employment contract: with details of gross annual salary and a detailed description of the employment in Germany
- Approval by the Federal Employment Agency (ZAV): If applicable
- Proof of residence: A driver’s license or any utility bills in your name work fine as proof of residence in India.
- Health insurance: You will get health insurance coverage from your German employer. Everyone has the option to take out either public or private health insurance in Germany.
- Curriculum Vitae: Your CV detailing your academic qualifications and job experience.
- Proof of Qualification: University diplomas, School certificates, etc.
- Personal covering letter: Explain the exact purpose and duration of stay.
- Proof of paid visa fee: The visa fee for a German work visa is €75.
- Declaration of Accuracy of Information
The processing time for a German work visa can take from 4 to 12 weeks from the application day.
If you submit incomplete or incorrect documents for your visa application, the processing time could take even longer.
3. German Freelancer Visa
Freelancing is one of the alternative ways of moving to Germany from India.
Freelancing is huge in Germany. In fact, there’s an ever-growing self-employment economy in Germany.
So when I finished my master program in Germany, I had two options – either get a full-time job or start my own business.
Since I had already freelanced before I moved to Germany, I decided to give it a go. Read here why I decided to freelance in Germany instead of working full-time?
What health insurance do freelancers need in Germany?
Freelancers in Germany have to take out health insurance but can choose between statutory and private health insurance. This obligation has applied to private health insurance since 2009 at the latest and to statutory health insurance since 2007.
Read more about how to pick the right Health insurance for freelancers in Germany (2020 Update).
FAQs: German Freelancer Visa For Indian Citizens
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 freelance resident permit at their responsible foreigners’ office.
Currently, there are no known restrictions for a German freelancer visa for Indian nationals. Anyone who meets the requirements for this resident permit can apply for a German self-elf-employment visa.
The document requirement can differ from case to case. Nationality and career history plays a big role in your visa application process.
Here is a list of documents that I had to prepare for my visa application as a long-term resident in Germany.
Here is a list of typical documents that you should prepare for:
- Valid passport
- A biometric photo: This photo should not be older than six months
- A duly filled form “Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels” (Application for Issuance of a Residence Permit): Only required for first-time application
- Health insurance for freelancers in Germany: Ideally from a German statutory insurance provider. If you are applying from outside of Germany, then here is an overview of visa office approved German health insurances.
- Anmeldung (Proof of residency): This is the document that you receive when you register at visit your local Bürgeramt, or citizen office.
- Curriculum vitae: Details of your professional career, qualification certificates, diploma, references/sponsors) OR Portfolio (bring copies of any recent and relevant work, especially if your profession is more creative).
- Academic Certificates: Certificates of your Bachelor, Master and other studies
- Business Plan
- Proof of business viability: You can submit an Einkommensbestätigung or a Netto-Gewinn Ermittlung if this is your first year of freelancing. It is a revenue forecast signed by a tax consultant. If you have been freelancing and paying taxes for the past few years, then ABH accepts a tax declaration from past years.
- Adequate pension plan: Only if you are above the age of 45
Take original documents to your appointment. Your caseworker will make a copy on the spot and return the originals to you right away.
Yes, you can! I have been working remotely in Germany since 2014, so way before Corona pandemic enforced a nationwide remote work situation.
In the post-Corona world, you can expect to find a number of remote jobs in Germany as a freelancer. Here are some high paying remote marketing jobs that you can do in Germany (or pretty much anywhere really!).
The processing time for a German freelance visa from India may take from one to three months from the application day. The processing time depends also on the number of applications the embassy is receiving at the time, as well as your situation.
Yes, you can freelance in Germany with your Upwork clients!
At the end of the day, your visa officer is concerned about your monthly or yearly income, and not the geographical origin of your clients. Having said that it is helpful to have some German clients to avoid raising any unnecessary issues during your visa processing.
Once you have arrived in Germany on your freelancer visa, you must first register with the German citizen’s office. This is known as ‘Anmeldung‘.
Then you must register yourself as a freelancer in Germany with the local tax office.
Getting your German freelance visa is only the start. If you want to work as a freelancer you have to register yourself one with the German tax authorities (Finanzamt).
First and the foremost, learn about various German tax IDs – National tax number, German freelance tax ID and VAT number.
At this stage, you will have to formally decide what self-employment category you belong to. Read here to understand whether you are a Freiberufler or Gewerbe in Germany.
Registering with Finanzamt is a fairly simple process, but it can be really difficult for anyone new to the German language. Here is the step by step guide to Register for self-employment in Germany.
The registration process starts with filling up the notorious German tax registration form. Here is a line by line English Guide to Fill Fragebogen zur Steuerlichen Erfassung 2020.