As a Filipino married to a German national, we had to ensure that all necessary documentations are complete extensively so I will not have any issues in the future. This means marriage certificates being authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country where we got married (UAE), my countrys’ embassy (Philippines), and the German Embassy, and it goes the same with our children’s birth certificates, they need to be authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, my countrys’ embassy (Philippines) and the German Embassy. Authentications are not always straightforward and may require you to come back, especially when you don’t have all the requirements on hand during the application. Yes, it can be tedious and time-consuming, but it’ll be worth it.
Nine years post our marriage; the pandemic breakout has drastically affected our livelihood – my husband was let go by his company amongst more than 400 employees, so we had to leave Dubai. It was heartbreaking to go, especially for me, who’s been in love with the city itself; Dubai was my home.
Once we’ve decided to leave UAE, we immediately prepared all the necessary documents we’ll need for me to apply for a German National Visa. There are many types of German National Visa – so you have to ensure you choose the correct one for your status. We will be particularly discussing here the National Visa – Category D (Family Reunion) which is intended for non-German nationals who:
- wishes to join their family in Germany
- for minors (ages 16 and below) who wanted to join their family in Germany
- and non-German nationals who intend to be married to a German National
You will be able to find all the information on the Consular Services Page of the Consulate General of Germany website in the UAE. I’m just here to share my experience about the process and share with you what you need to know to manage your expectations. If you are not from the United Arab Emirates, I suggest you visit the country’s Consulate General of Germany website, where you are located instead.
Your country’s Consulate General of Germany website should provide a checklist similar to the German National Visa (Category D) checklist that is available in the UAE. Only use this form if you are in the UAE; if not – again, please visit the Consulate General of Germany website of the country where you are located and find/ask for a similar form; the checklist is a straightforward guideline that will help you be prepared for your application.
I have listed herewith the highlights of what you’ll need for your German National Visa (Category D) application for your easy reference:
Visa Application Forms
- National Visa Application Form – available online and free of charge
- Declaration of true and complete information – this is also available online and is free of charge, you will be able to find this form as part of the application form when you print them, or it could be on a separate link. You will be able to identify this form as it will be written on the title itself.
The German authorities recognize not all passports, but if you are from one of the countries where your passport is recognized, you have to ensure that your passport is valid for a minimum of one year, signed, not older than 10 years, with an undamaged picture page, with at least two visa pages available (for the visa sticker to be placed on) and with valid UAE residence permit if you are a UAE resident.
If your passport is nearly expiring, it’ll be worth renewing your passport soon, this will save you the stress of having to look for your country’s embassy in Germany.
You also need to bring all your old passports, especially if they’ve got the original tourist visa stickers from your previous travels to Germany or Europe along with the entry and exits stamps during your visit.
Three recent biometric passport sized pictures
You’ll have to submit a passport picture that is not older than 6 months. I suggest you opt to go to a photography studio with professionals who understand the requirements for German National Visa applications.
Previous Stay in Germany and Previous Schengen Visa
Similar to when applying for a Schengen Tourist Visa, you’ll have to gather all your previous Schengen tourist visas, or if you have already been a non-German resident before, you will need to submit a copy of your resident visa document as well.
Details of Spouse
Prepare a copy of your spouse’s passport, along with his/her residence permit that’s called ‘Meldebescheinigung’ if he/she has been living in Germany (not older than 6 months). Meldebescheinigung is a one-page document that states the person’s address within the city/country he/she lives in.
In my case, since we all live in Dubai at the time of my application, I have submitted in addition to my spouse’s passport, the German passport copies, UAE authenticated birth certificates, and German birth certificates of my two children, who are minors.
You will feel very rewarded when you finally get to the stage of having your due diligence recognized. When I’ve applied for my National Visa, I did not have any problem with my documentation, particularly with my marriage certificates. I have both German and Foreign marriage certificates with me that were rightfully authenticated by the governing authorities. You should, too, as this is very important for you to get your national visa application approved.
If you have been divorced or widowed, you’ll have to submit in addition – your original divorce certificate or the original death certificate of your former spouse.
“Please note that foreign certificates are often only recognized by the authorities of the state if their authenticity and evidentiary value has been determined by a special procedure”
“Verification of documents can only be initiated after the visa process has started – In countries where the German Foreign Missions have noticed that the prerequisites for legalization of official certificates are no longer given, verification of documents is required. By means of legal and administrative cooperation, a Foreign Mission can assist German authorities and courts by having certificates checked for the veracity of the facts certified and thus supports German authorities in their decision making. Private individuals cannot request verification of certificates – During the verification process, original documents have to be submitted to the German Consulate in Dubai, which will forward the same to the responsible German Mission in the country where the documents originate. Depending on the country, the processing time varies (not less than 4 months) and involves additional charges.” –Missions of Federal Republic of Germany – Recognition of Foreign Documents
Proof of Accommodation in Germany
Just like when applying for a tourist visa, you’ll have to prove that you will have a place to stay within the country; if your partner or ‘family member’ is renting an apartment in Germany, you’ll have to present a copy of the lease certificate of the apartment. All residents’ residential apartments and houses are registered within the ‘Bürgeramt’ or the Citizen’s office. Therefore this certificate is something that German authorities are going to be able to recognize immediately. Your proof of accommodation would not just be a simple temporary residence contract.
If you own the house where you will be living, you need to include a copy of the property deed as your proof of accommodation.
Proof of Sufficient means of subsistence
You will have to prove that you and your family will be able to sustain your new life in Germany. To prove this, you’ll have to submit a copy of your spouse’s (or your own) salary certificate or employment contract, salary slips or bank statements, whatever necessary that can prove your financial ability to sustain your cost of living in Germany.
Knowledge of Basic German Language A1
Knowledge of the basic German language is imperative; you’ll need to know how to communicate to integrate with the community around you, or even to start making friends, especially if you are planning to apply for a job. Once you get here, You’ll understand why you must submit proof of German Language proficiency by a recognized institute per ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe).
I have attended two German Language courses (A1 and A1.2) at Goethe Institute in Dubai. However, I did not continue my studies because I didn’t feel that I’m not learning up to my full potential; I find it difficult to learn a new language when you speak your mother language and English outside the class most of the time. Although I stopped continuing my course, I practiced and tried to learn a bit with my children from time to time. My Goethe Institute courses were from seven years ago. I have kept and included my course certificates as proof that I’ve passed these courses. However, these were not enough, and I still need to take a test for Level A1.
Thankfully, parents of German minor children/unborn children are exempted from the German Language Level A1 Certificate requirement. Therefore I did not have to worry about taking a Level A1 exam. For the record, as I am here now in Germany and currently taking my German Language courses, I find it so much easier to learn when you can practice speaking every day, you learn new words every day, and you get yourself corrected by your peers.
Incoming Medical Insurance or proof of public / private insurance
You don’t have to submit this yet, but you must be ready with it as soon as you get your National Visa approved. It’ll be one of the requirements you’ll have to provide to the consulate.
Please note that as when your national visa is finally approved you'll have to submit a copy of your Incoming Medical Insurance, your incoming health/medical insurance must be valid for at least 90 days from the intended date of travel and your visa will only start as per the starting date of the insurance. Therefore you have to make it sure that your insurance starts from the date when you wish to travel to Germany. Regular travel health insurance is insufficient and only incoming travel health insurances are accepted such as: Mawista, BDAE or Care Concept. If your spouse or family member have enrolled you into a German public or German private health insurance, in this case, you'll have to present a copy of the insurance certificate and/or a copy of your insurance ID, and state on a piece of paper the date of your intended travel to Germany.
Prepare three sets of documents, one file with all the original documents, and two files with all copies of documents, organized/labeled per the checklist.
Now that you have completed all the required documents for your application, you now have to reach out to the Consulate General of Germany to make an appointment for your National Visa Application; they will give you the appointment schedule based on their availability. Be on time!
Your appointment is more likely to be in the morning; ensure you clear any other appointments you have in the morning because the waiting time could be extensive, depending on how busy the consular office is. There will be people sitting in the waiting area just across the teller window waiting for their turn to be interviewed.
Once your turn has been called, relax and compose yourself together. You’ve got this!
During the Interview
The interviewer or the Consular Executive will ask you random questions, things that you should already know the answers of course! Why, Who, What, Where, and When: Why are you applying for a National Visa?, How are you related to the person you are joining with? What does he/she do for a living? Where does he/she live?, Do you speak the language? Have you visited Germany before? When? .. some questions may particularly be intrusive if you are applying for National Visa Category D for civil marriage. I’m certain it’s different for family members like myself with two minor children who are both German nationals.
After the interview, you will be asked for your documents; The Consular Executive will check your documents. Ensure that copies correspond to the original documents presented and ensure that you have signed all the spaces that require your signature. Original documents will be returned to you, including your original passport.
Once all your documents are submitted, and fees are paid (fees will be stated in your country’s Consulate General of Germany webpage), you will be given a document with a barcode number as a reference to your submitted application.
Your National Visa Application Processing
During your interview, you may want to ask how long would the visa processing take. My husband and I presumed it’d only take about three days, similar to whenever I apply for my tourist visa (every two-three years); we thought it’s going to be that straightforward, and yes, we were wrong. Because of the pandemic, the document would take a ‘minimum of two weeks before it reaches the city in Germany (where I will live with my family). The city will validate the documents being submitted and finally decide its approval. The approval for your national visa application does not depend on the consular office where you submitted your visa application; it will be decided by the city where you intend to live in.
Congratulations! Your National Visa has been Approved!
Almost four weeks (or more) after and you’ve finally received the good news via email! That your national visa application has been decided upon. You will be requested to hand over your original passport and valid incoming health insurance, and date of intended travel (on a piece of paper) in an envelope *to be placed in the dedicated dropbox of the consular office.
You will be given a schedule as to when you can drop your documents along with instructions on what you need to do; in my case, I was asked to note the barcode number which was provided at the time of the visa application, my full name, and telephone number written on the envelope.
*Instructions as to how you are to submit to your original passport for the visa sticker to be placed varies from each country consulate, I'm just sharing my experience as an example.
You have to be aware that the consular office security staff is NOT authorized to assist in any matter about the visa process or its finalization.
Your passport will be ready for collection after 3 working days; again, you will be given a schedule for the collection schedule. You have to collect your passport in person, or if you can’t and need someone to collect it for you, you’ll have to submit a signed authorization letter stating the details of the person collecting your passport on your behalf.
This blog should only serve as a guide for your national visa application based on my personal experience; I will still suggest checking the local Consulate General of Germany website in the country you are in to manage the requirements that you’ll need to submit. Nevertheless, I do hope you’ll find this post helpful.