Every international student in Germany knows that they need to apply for a residence permit before their visa expires. The residence permit usually allows students to continue staying and studying in the country for another year (depending on the student’s country of birth). The process of obtaining a residence permit can be complicated, involving prolonging waiting time. I first contacted the Ausländerbehörde at the beginning of December, and will be receiving my residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) in the middle of April. But this is also due to my missing documents and holidays. Otherwise, I should have received it sometime in February. It is important to keep in mind that the employees at Ausländerbehörde are extremely busy. They know that your visa is expiring soon and will contact you about eight weeks before and ask for documents for your residence permit. So you can wait for them to contact you and just follow their instructions.
But if you are anxious and a bit of a control freak like me, then read on. I first came to the Einwohneramt Stadt Nürnberg, took a form called “Antrag Aufenthaltstitel” and filled out my basic information (name, birthday,…etc.), my wish to renew my visa, and how I can financially support myself during my stay in Germany. Now, you can prove this in three ways. The first way, also the most common way, is to have around 8,700 euros in a blocked account. The second way is to have a scholarship. The third option is to have a German citizen sponsor you. The German citizen would have to go to the Ausländerbehörde, bring all his or her documents regarding income, tax…etc. and fill out a form stating that he or she is responsible for you. The document is called “Verpflichtungserklärung”, and is valid for five years. You then send the document along with the rest of your application.
The process of proving you are financially independent is pretty straightforward, which also means that there is no way around it. I tried to prove that I could pay for myself with my student job, with which I earn around 800 euros a month, but it was not accepted. This is because I need to prove that I can support myself during the entire period of my residence permit, which is 12 months, and my work contract is only for six months.
About four weeks after I sent the form, I received a letter listing all the documents required for my residence permit application. The list may differ based on your country of birth. But basically you would need to show your enrollment in an university, or your reason of staying in Germany, a proof that you have a health insurance, a place to live, how you can pay for yourself. Other documents are your passport, and your entry visa. After emailing all your document and having waited another considerable amount of time, you will be given an appointment, when you can bring all your documents, a photo of you, and some cash to pay for the residence permit.
Moreover, It is important to bring the exact amount of money you have to pay in cash because you will have to put the money in a vending machine that cannot give you back change money. I was one euro short and all I had left was a 20 euros bill, which of course, was not accepted by the machine. Luckily, a kind stranger lent me one euro to finish my transaction.
Now, in case the Ausländerbehorde did not process your documents before your visa expires, which was also my case, then pack your bags because you have to leave Germany. No just kidding. The Ausländerbehörde will issue a “Fiktionsbescheinigung” that allows you to stay in Germany, while they process your documents. To my knowledge, this acts as a “temporary” residence permit, allowing you to re-enter Germany after travelling, renew work contract,…etc. The Fiktionsbescheinigung costs 13 euros. And after waiting for some more time, the Auslanderbehörde will give you an appointment to pick up the “official” residence permit.
During the waiting time, your attempt of calling and asking for information would be fruitless. The phone is always busy. They won’t give you a more satisfying answer rather than keep on waiting. So this is a good time to practice your mental strength or whatever you believe in, religions, law of attraction, karma,… etc. that things will turn out fine in the end. Maybe burn some sage.
Please also keep in mind that what I wrote here are not official announcements from the Ausländerbehörde; you should always check their website and have your German friend standby to translate all the mails. There were about 30 international students in my study program, we all had to apply for a residence permit, and no one got deported so far, so you should be fine too.