Bringing a friend from Eastern Europe into Germany for a visit.

It is quite simple to arrange for a tourist visa for a person from Eastern Europe to visit you in Germany. I have done this myself with Russian visitors and a close friend of mine did this to allow the Bulgarian wife of a friend of his to come to join her husband (also Bulgarian) while he was on an extended business trip to Germany.

Remember, I am not a lawyer, I am not giving you legal advice. I am just telling you that I did this and it worked for me.

What I am writing is relevant to visitors from most parts of the former Soviet Union and also to people from most parts of Eastern Europe. The process is easier if you have a visitor from a country that is on the fast track to join the EU.

I am an EU citizen living and working in Germany and at the time of writing, I am legally resident in Germany. If you are just visiting Germany or if you do not have EU citizenship then what I am writing will not apply to you.

The actual process is very simple. You go to your local city office and explain that you want to make an invitation for a person from (say) Russia to come and visit you.

They will ask some questions and complete some formalities and then, on receipt of a small fee, they will issue with an invitation document. You send that to your friend in Russia and they take it to the German Embassy or Consulate and, after some more formalities, they will normally issue the visa.

So, to add some details to the above:

You should go to the office at which you registered your residence in Germany and ask them where you must go in order to make the invitation. In some cities this will be the same office. That is the case in Paderborn but in Ulm, there is an office which does nothing but process these invitations.

They will ask to see a number of papers from you:

Your contract of employment.
Your last three payslips.
Your passport.
Your Aufenhaltserlaubnis. (Only if you are not a German citizen.)
Your Mietvertrag if you are living in rented accommodation.

They will then check that you are legally resident in their part of Germany and that you have enough space in your apartment and that you earn enough money to support your visitor.

If you pass all of these tests, they will ask for the following information about your visitor:

Current Address
Place and Date of Birth.
Relationship to you.
Duration of Visa

The latter can be for up to three months. It may be worth asking for a longer duration than the planned stay to allow for flexibility when it comes to purchasing plane tickets or booking holidays. The people in the office understand these things and will not be unduly concerned about you asking for a two month invitation for a visitor who will only spend a week with you.

If all is OK, you will be given a form which you must then send to your intended visitor.

So, you put the form in the post and wait.

On receipt of the invitation, your visitor must take this as well as their passport to their nearest German Consulate. Normally, the Consular official will ask them a set of questions and then make an appointment for them to come back. At busy times, this second appointment may be a month later so make sure that you do things in good time. At the second visit, they will perhaps have some follow up questions and may want to see some documents. In particular, they will want to see some evidence of medical insurance to cover the visit to Germany. This can be bought in Russia for a lot less than in Germany and I expect that the same is true in other countries.

Despite everything that you will hear, it is not necessary to have a return plane ticket before the visit to the Consulate. The Consular staff know that people buy these after the visa is issued. They also know that the immigration officer at the German airport is quite entitled to turn somebody back if they have arrived with a one way ticket for a one week visit.

So, if the second visit to the Consular official is OK, your friend will be asked to return one or two days later when the visa will be issued and attached to their passport.

Note that my knowledge of the procedures at the Consulate is based on the practices of the German Consulate in St.Petersburg in Russia. Things may be a little different in other places.

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