What is the foreigners' registration office?
The foreigners' registration office is the federal immigration authority in Germany. This is the place where foreign citizens get their residence permit issued.
Who needs to go to the foreigners' registration office?
In principal, the foreigners' registration office is designated for foreign citizens. Meaning: people who do not hold a European citizenship and need a visa in order to stay long term in Germany.
Who doesn't need to go to the foreigners' registration office?
European citizens and German citizens. Please note: relatives of European citizens who are not Europeans themselves would have to go to the foreigners' registration office in order to have their visa issued.
So how does it work?
First of all, one needs to make an appointment in the Berlin foreigners' registration office. The foreigners' registration office is divided to departments, and so, you should make an appointment in a certain department according to the type of visa you would like to apply for. The waiting time for an appointment at the foreigners' registration office tends to be long, and so it is better if you make the appointment even before arriving in Germany. All documents should be prepared before the appointment and one should come in as ready as possible. In many cases, the decision whether to issue the visa is made on the spot.
Please note he difference between visas and residence permits: according to the German law, people who intend to stay long term in Germany need to apply for a national visa in the German consulate in their home country. In this case, one is allowed to move to Germany only after having one's national visa issued. One of the firsts steps in Germany will be to apply for a residence permit, which will be issued in the foreigners' registration office. However, citizens of specific countries are exempt from this process. For further information, please feel free to contact me.
What are my chances of getting a visa?
According to the German law, each case is reviewed individually. This means that the agents at the foreigners' registration office have a certain freedom of action, which affects their decision regarding your visa. Even if you come from a "preferred" country, this does not ensure that you will get your compatible visa on the spot. It is highly recommended to arrive in the foreigners' registration office as well prepared as you can be and comply with every demand you can. If you do not meet all the needed requirements, or if you are not sure what the most compatible visa for you is, it is worth your while to consult with a professional in order to come to a decision on the matter.
How would I know what visa is most compatible for me?
There are a number of visas you could get depending on your professional training and the application file you are able to arrange. Some of the visas allow working while others do not. People often get a visa which is not right for their needs due to insufficient comprehension of the system. Remember: the foreigners' registration office officials are not there to consult you, but only to authorize your application. Therefore, it is recommended to prepare yourself well, during which we would be able to see what visa is most aligned with your needs.
How much time do I have to get my affairs in order?
If you come from a preferred country, or have the permission to stay in Germany without a visa within a period of 90 days in every 180 days, you will need to apply for a visa within those 90 days. If you hold a national wisa (which you got at the German consulate), you will need to apply for a residence permit before it expires.
Could I go there by myself?
Like other governmental offices in Germany, the agents at the foreigners' registration office are usually not allowed to speak English. There are some agents who will bend the rules and speak English with you, while other won't. Due to the importance if the appointment, it is recommended to go with an experienced translator who will translate the content of the appointment for you.
I was not able to make an appointment, what do I do?
If you need to urgently get your affairs in order, you will need to go to the foreigners' registration office early in the morning before it opens. In this case, you should go to the foreigners' registration office as early as possible to get a spot in the queue lining up in front of the entrance to the institution before opening. It is important to note that at some point the appointments for that day will run out, and people who showed up too late will go back home without talking to anyone. For that reason, you should try and avoid this option and look for online appointments in the foreigners' registration office's appointment booking system.
And how much is the fee?
The visa fees vary. Generally, they vary between 50-110 Euros, depending on the type of visa you get and its format. However, a family reunion with European citizens visa usually costs only 8-24 Euros. According to the German law, the payment is for the application and not for the visa itself, so you will have to pay even if your visa application had been denied.
What types of visas are there?
In order to answer this question, one needs to understand that foreigners are tied to purposes of stay. Meaning, you cannot stay in Germany long term because you want to, you need to have a reason. The german immigration law defines three main purposes of stay: family, studies and work. Please feel free to talk to me in order to find out what purpose of stay, and accordingly which visa is the most compatible for you.
I got a visa, but I would like to replace. Is it possible?
The answer to this question depends on the change you wish to do. If you wish to change your purpose of stay, it also might depend on your nationality. Given the possible complexity of this matter, it is recommended to consult with a professional.