Residence and Work Permit

General information

In contrast to visa applications, applications for a residence permit and their extensions are processed by the responsible local Immigration Office in Germany. In Dresden, the responsible office for highly-skilled applicants (such as PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and guest researchers/lecturers) is the Dresden Welcome Center, a specialised branch of Dresden’s Immigration Authority.

Caution: Despite the similarity in the names, please don’t confuse our guidance service for researchers (TU Dresden Welcome Center, run by DRESDEN-concept e.V.) with the city’s official immigration office (Dresden Welcome Center)!

Types of residence and requirements

In principle, four types of residence purposes are relevant for researchers and their families:

1) residence for the purpose of education (PhD-students)
2) residence for purpose of research (PostDocs and PhD-students working more than 20 hrs/week)
3) residence for employment purposes (employment with a Blue Card as a researcher at a listed research facility),
4) residence for the purpose of family reunion.

Note that different funding and family situations may fall under various residence categories. For instance, PhD students can be considered in education, in employment or coming for a family reunion depending on a combination of factors. Note that residence permits are issued based on the type of entry visa. Therefore it is vital to apply for the correct type of visa from the very start, as well. All residence permits, especially the residence permit for researchers, come with very specific conditions and consequences attached. Therefore please contact us well in advance of your stay for guidance regarding which type of visa and residence permit to apply for. To enable us to assist you in the best way possible, please have your institute send us a mandate (“Beauftragung”/Mandate for your host institute).

Residence permit (all purposes)

Any Non-EU national entering on a visa who is planning to stay for longer than its validity must apply for a residence permit at the local Immigration Office. Non-EU nationals who are eligible to enter Germany without a visa initially and want to stay longer than 3 months must also apply for a residence permit after arrival. Residence permits are processed upon prior appointment only, with waiting periods for an appointment of up to 2 months at busy times of year. Therefore we recommend requesting an appointment to apply for a residence permit as early as possible, at the latest 2 months before expiry of your entry visa (or 2 months before arrival for those eligible to enter without a visa but wanting to work or for those arriving to Dresden with a current residence permit from another German city or EU country), to make sure you receive an appointment before your entry visa, entry period or current residence permit expires.

Work permit (as part of a residence permit)

Any PhD student or research stay, whether on a scholarship or your own expense, without concurrent enrolment at university, is considered employment (i.e. work, requiring a residence permit which includes a work permit). Be aware that residence permits are issued based on the type of visa you enter with. A work permit should therefore already be part of your visa application, if you fall under the above categories.

If you are eligible to enter without a visa in principle but intend to work in research in Germany, note that you must obtain a work permit before you can legally start your research work at the Dresden host institution. The visa exemption only applies to stays with a purpose other than employment. Without a work permit it is not possible to sign a contract of employment or a guest researcher contract.Therefore it is highly advisable to apply for an entry visa including a work permit approximately 3 months before the intended departure and start date of your contract.

Alternatively, and only if it is too late to apply for a visa, you should plan to arrive in Dresden several weekdays prior to your intended start date at work to prepare the paperwork and attend your interview for the residence and work permit. If you choose this path, inform the local Immigration Authority of your intended arrival date at least 2 months in advance of arrival and request an appointment for your application for a residence and work permit for a date immediately following your arrival.

If your appointment is not scheduled for soon after arrival or if any paperwork is missing on the date of your appointment, this could result in a delayed issuance of your residence and work permit. To reduce the risk of not receiving your work permit in time for the intended start of your contract, we definitely recommend the path of applying for an entry visa (including a work permit) instead.

EU Nationals

…are free to move and work anywhere in the EU and do not need a residence or work permit for a long-term stay. The only obligation is to register your address at the Central Registration Office within the first 2 weeks of arrival for a stay longer than 2 months.

For the essential information on residence and work permits for incoming researchers, please read the corresponding section of our Welcome Guide  carefully first.

Whom to contact

General information

Follow this link to get general information about the types of residence in Germany.

Dresden-specific information

For Dresden-specific information about obtaining a residence permit, go to this website of the City of Dresden.

Requesting an appointment at the Foreigners Authority (Immigration Office)

To request an appointment for the application for a residence permit (with or without a work permit), send an e-mail to stating

  • your surname
  • first name
  • date of birth
  • nationality
  • expiry date of your entry visa / your arrival date
  • your specific request

Ask our advice before you do this, if you are unsure which type of residence to apply for.

Status of your application

To find out about the status of your application for a residence permit, contact the Dresden Welcome Center (the Dresden Immigration Office’s branch for the highly-skilled).