Frequently Asked Questions


 + Quick facts about visa and entry requirements +

  • Your visa must be issued before entering Germany.
  • You have to apply in person with all required documents. A list of documents can usually be found on the website of the responsible Embassy/Consulate.
  • There are different visa types depending on the purpose of your stay (with/without a working permit).
  • Allow enough time (minimum 2-3 months) for the visa to be issued.
  • Inform yourself directly at the German Embassy/Consulate in your country of residence. Requirements vary from country to country.


As of 01.01.2021 British citizens will be able to enter the Federal Republic of Germany for long-term residence purposes such as studying, research, taking up employment or joining their family without a prior visa procedure. British nationals therefore do not have to contact the German Embassy before entering Germany. However, in some cases it makes sense to apply for a national visa (D-Visa) before entering Germany (e.g. in case of a research work contract). You will have to apply for a residence permit after arriving in Germany.

For detailled information please look at our website as well as at the website of the British Embassy in Berlin.


+ My visa/residence permit is going to expire soon. How should I proceed? +

To apply for or extend your residence permit you currently have the following options:
• Booking an online appointment with the Berlin Immigration Office (LEA) under:
• Going to the LEA during their opening hours on Thursdays     - NOT POSSIBLE AT PRESENT -
  (Please read on for more information on this option)
• Consulting our team and submitting your complete application with ALL required documents (no original documents and only coloured scans of your documents in 1 PDF per person) via email to ISS. Our team will then be able to hand in your application for you. If you prefer this option, we kindly ask you to read the following information carefully:

As we are no longer having appointments at the Berlin Immigration Office (LEA) in person, you can ONLY submit your documents via email.

Moreover, it is your responsibility to submit your full application in the required manner, i.e 1 complete PDF in a specific order, coloured scans. We are unable to submit incomplete applications, nor are we in a position to edit PDFs for you. We do NOT accept original passports!

Should your application be incomplete, you will face a delay of submission. We recommend that you make sure to contact us 4-6 weeks prior to expiry of your residence permit to avoid legal complications.

We kindly ask for your attention and understanding.

The Immigration Office needs one to three weeks to  check your application, after which you will be invited to submit your fingerprints, show your original passport and pay the fee. You will receive an email with detailed information from us. Afterwards, they order the electronic residence permit card at the federal printing office what takes another 4-6 weeks. As such, the whole process usually takes between 8 and 10 weeks. Please note that there is no option to accelerate the process as it is out of our control. You will receive your residence permit per post. It is very important that your name is written on the letterbox, and that you always keep us informed about your current address.

For more information please visit the Immigration Office's website:

To further contain the corona infection, the service at Friedrich-Krause-Ufer and Keplerstraße locations will be restricted as follows:


+ My work contract with HU is going to expire soon. What should I do? +

As an employed researcher you will probably be entitled to receive unemployment benefit (Arbeitslosengeld I/ALG I). Therefore, you need to register as "seeking employment" at least 3 months before the expiration of your work contract to ensure you receive benefits from day 1 of your unemployment. Also, you need to register as "unemployed" the first day of your unemployment. The final decision whether you qualify for unemployment benefit depends on your residence permit type and is made by the "Bundesagentur für Arbeit." We recommend you to be accompanied by a German speaking person.

Please also note that you usually need to change your residence permit type in case of a unemployment. ISS are here to help! If you do so and based on our experience, the Immigration Office usually requires a proof about your registration as "seeking employment"

Please have a look at the following websites for more details:





+ I am interested in a research visit at the HU. Are research visits currently possible and what do I have to consider when entering the country? +

Research stays at HU Berlin are, under certain circumstances, possible again. Relevant information can be found here:


As of July 17, 2020 residents of certain countries are allowed entry to German federal territory. These countries as well as detailed guidelines are listed on the website of the  Federal Foreign Office and/ or Federal Police under



Please note that the information on the above-mentioned website is subject to recurring updates due to the Covid19 pandemic.

Should your country of current residence (NOT your citizenship!) be not listed on the above-mentioned list, there will be entry restrictions for you. As such, entry will only be permitted with proof of necessity/urgency of physical presence, for instance when a significant function is to be practiced. In order to claim necessity, a hosting agreement which confirms the researcher’s stay at the Humboldt-Universität is strongly recommended. Additionally, a letter of support from the hosting institute which clarifies and confirms the necessity of the visit will also be needed. This letter needs the signature of the hosting professor and must be on official HU letterhead. Our ISS team can provide a draft letter upon request.

We recommend that you carry all the above mentioned documents with you upon arrival in Germany, and present them alongside your confirmation of recruitment to customs authorities if required.

Prior to setting on the journey, we recommend to check the website of German consular office in your current area of residence.


Please note that the information on the above-mentioned website is subject to recurring updates due to the Covid19 pandemic.

We at ISS cannot guarantee a successful entry to German federal territory. The decision is solely made by officers of the German federal police.

Please pay careful attention to current regulations as pertained to mandatory covid19 testing upon arrival in Germany. Since November 2020 travellers from high-risk territories are obligated to get registered prior to their trip.  More information on the subject can be found on the following websites: 






+ I would like to do a PhD at HU. What is the procedure like? +

In order to participate in a PhD program at the HU, candidates need a formal invitation from the university. This invitation is extended to the candidates who do have a HU professor’s agreement to supervise their dissertation. Candidates must identify, contact and win the support of the professor of their choice on their own. We advise candidates to contact professors only when their PhD proposal package is finalized. Identify a professor whose research interests include your chosen PhD subject/topic, and send them your finished proposal. More information on the subjet of international PhD candidates can be found on the following pages:

Homepage for International PhD Candidates:


List of Faculties:


First Steps for Residence at HU:


Admission Office for International Students:


For general questions regarding admission procedures and registration, candidates can also contact the Humboldt Graduate School under promotionsinfo@hu-berlin.de .

Candidates should also contact the office of doctoral studies at their respective faculties.


+ Information on enrolment procedure +

Registration of those PhD candidates who are planning to do their PhD at HU continues to take place as usual. Any candidate who has been admitted to a PhD program must enroll within 4 weeks of receiving the admission notice. More information on enrollment procedures at HU can be found here: www.hu-berlin.de/de/studium/bewerbung/formulare/prom-ausl-engl.pdf/view

Should you be unable to travel to Germany due to the pandemic, you are required to submit via postal service all required documents within 4 weeks of receiving the admission notice.  

For those international students/PhD candidates who are not seeking a degree from HU, enrollment procedures are currently done digitally. Such individuals must submit the following documents for registration:

-Confirmation of supervising professor

-Proof of registration at home university (where the individual is seeking the degree)

-Proof of health insurance through a German health insurance company or the European Health Insurance Card – EHIC

-Proof of payment of semester fees

For all other questions related to enrollment at HU, please contact HU Incoming Team under  exchange-students@hu-berlin.de


+ How do I register myself in Berlin? +

Due to the Covid19 pandemic, citizen centers (Bürgeramt) across Berlin observe strict regulations regarding admission of visitors. As such, making an appointment in advance is mandatory. Everyone else will be denied access to the center, as part of infection protective measures.

We encourage you to visit the website of Berlin-wide citizen centers in the early hour of the morning, and refresh the page several times, as spontaneous appointments become available on the website frequently.

Should you NOT be able to schedule an appointment as such, please contact your local citizen center (Bürgeramt) per email or phone. Opening hours of these centers across Berlin can be found under: service.berlin.de/standorte/buergeraemter/