How To Get A Visa To Germany From The USA

18 Oct 2022

18 min read

The hardest type of visa application is, by far, Schengen visas. The European Union (EU) takes serious precautions regarding safety. Therefore, getting a visa to Germany from the US can be tedious and intimidating.

For that reason, this post will cover everything you need to know about a visa to Germany from the US. First, we'll look at the Germany Schengen visa requirements for US citizens and Green Card Holders.

We'll also discuss the Schengen visa application process and how you can book a Germany visa appointment.

Let's jump right in:

Walchensee and Kochel green landscape

Germany Visa For US Citizens

First, let's discuss the Germany Schengen visa for US citizens.

Here's what we'll cover:

Regensburg Tower

What Is The Germany Visa?

A Germany visa, or Schengen Visa, is an entry permit that allows visa holders to travel to Germany for a specific number of days.

Although it sounds straightforward, there's much more to the Germany Schengen Visa.

Do I Need A Visa To Go To Germany From The USA?

No. US citizens do not need a visa to go to Germany. This means US citizens can travel to any part of the Schengen Area without a visa.

Can A US Resident Go To Germany?

Yes. US citizens can go to Germany. Remember that I just mentioned US citizens do not need a Germany Schengen Visa.

How Long Can I Stay In Germany?

US citizens can stay in Germany for 90 days within 180 days.

"I don't understand this?"

Don't worry. We get this a lot, and we know the 90/180-day rule can be very confusing.

Luckily, the European Government has a free Schengen visa calculator. I suggest you use it to ensure you do not overstay your visa-free 90 days in Germany.

What Are The Visa Requirements For US Citizens To Germany?

Now that you've determined you do not need a visa to Germany from the US, let's take a look at some additional information:

Coudy rainy day in Heidelberg Germany

Do I Need Travel Insurance?

No. Travel insurance is not mandatory. However, we always advise travelers to get travel or medical insurance.

"I know nothing will happen with me, so why waste money on it?"

The chances of something bad happening to you is small, but not zero. It's always good to have travel insurance and not need it. Rather than need it and not have it.

What Are The Financial Requirements To Travel To Germany?

You must prove that you have at least 45 EUR for each day you spend in Germany.

You will be denied entry if you can't prove that you meet the German financial requirements. Therefore, it's very important to prove that you have the means of subsistence.

Remember that each Schengen country has its own financial requirements. Therefore, please check out our blog on financial requirements for each Schengen country if you want to know more.

What Are The Passport Requirements?

US citizens must have a passport to travel to Germany. Although you do not need a visa, you require a passport when arriving at border control.

Arriving In Germany - What To Expect?

Once you've touched down and got your bags, it's time to face the border control authorities. I don't know why but this part always makes me feel stressed.

When you arrive at the border control desk, the officer will ask for your passport and travel details.

VERY IMPORTANT: Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your exit date.

The officer might ask you for additional documents regarding your trip. I suggest having a file in your hand luggage with the following documents:

  • Hotel itinerary
  • Flight itinerary
  • Proof that you meet the financial requirements (bank statements, employment contract, etc.)
  • Invitation letter (it's always good to have one when visiting family or friends)

For your convenience, I've linked Atlys' free visa tools above. We believe in making traveling easier for everyone.

Can I Extend My Stay In Germany?

No. If you want to stay in Germany for more than 90 days, you must apply for a long-stay or Type D visa.

The National Type D visa requires you to submit additional documents. You'll also need to prove why you want to stay in Germany for more than 90 days.

What Is ETIAS And Do I Need It?

You've probably heard about "ETIAS," but what exactly is it?

Like ESTA, the EU introduced the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).

Although ETIAS is not yet implemented, US citizens must apply for it starting in November 2023.

Please check out our guide on the ETIAS for more information.

Visa To Germany For US Green Card Holders

Next, we need to discuss the visa to Germany for US Green Card Holders. Whether or not they need one is a tricky question to answer. For that reason, this section will make it much easier to understand.

We'll cover the basics, the requirements, and how to apply.

Hamburg cityscape

Germany Visa For US Green Card Holders - The Basics

As I mentioned, the first thing I'll cover is the German Schengen visa basics. Then, remember to keep reading, as we'll discuss the fastest way you can get a Schengen Visa later.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Can A US Green Card Holder Travel To Germany Without A Visa?

Yes, but it depends. Let me explain by using an example:

Let's say you are a US Green Card Holder but have an Indian Passport. Therefore, you must get a visa to Germany.

That's why it's important to check if your country of citizenship needs a Schengen visa.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Germany Visa?

The Germany Schengen visa processing time is anything between 15 to 30 days. However, some travelers only get theirs 60 days after their visa appointment.

We suggest you apply for your visa at least 2 months before your planned departure date. This leaves you with enough time to get all your documents in order.

Check out the next section for a priceless tip on how to get your German visa as quickly as possible.

How Can I Get A German Visa Fast?

Atlys is a visa app that holds the record for the fastest visa application in the world.

One of our users completed their visa application in just 87 seconds. Although the Germany Schengen visa application is not an e-visa application, you can still apply for it online.


How Much Is The Visa Fee From The USA To Germany?

The visa fee for a Germany Schengen visa depends on if you are applying for an adult or a minor. Let's break it down:

  • Germany visa fee for adults: 80 EUR
  • Germany visa fee for children between 6-12: 40 EUR
  • Germany visa fee for children younger than 6: Free

What Are The Germany Visa Requirements For US Green Card Holders?

Now that you clearly understand the basics, let's discuss the important requirements. First, we'll look at some of the documents you'll need and details about the photo requirements.

Then, we'll discuss the financial requirements and some free tools you can use when gathering your Germany visa requirements.

Brandenburg Gate

What Are The Germany Schengen Visa Document Requirements?

Unlike US citizens, some US Green Card Holders must apply for a visa to Germany from the US. Those who need a Germany Schengen visa must have the following documents when applying:

You might need to submit additional documents depending on what type of Germany visa you are applying for. Check out our guide on everything you need to know about Schengen visas.

What Are The Schengen Visa Photo Requirements?

Now that we've covered the required documents, let's look at the [photo requirements]:

You can now use Atlys' free passport photo tool to get yours. It's as easy as taking/uploading a photo, and the tool crops and resizes everything for you.

  • 2 identical photos (not older than 6 months)
  • Must be in color
  • Size: 35mm (width) x 45mm (height)
  • Your head must be in the middle and facing the camera
  • You must have a natural facial expression
  • Ensure your photo does not have marks, creases, or stains

Please check out our Schengen visa photo requirements guide for more information.

What Are The Financial Requirements To Travel To Germany?

As I mentioned, Germany requires you to prove that you have at least 45 EUR per day.

"I don't understand this."

Let me explain:

If you are traveling to Germany for 14 days, you must have at least 45 EUR per day. This means you must have a total of 630 EUR for 14 days in Germany.

"Why is it important?"

Because you must prove to the border officials that you are traveling for tourism and not looking for work. Therefore, you have enough money to support yourself during your trip.

Suppose you need a visa to Germany, but someone sponsors your trip. In that case, we suggest you add a sponsorship letter to your application.

Free Atlys Tools You Can Use To Travel With Certainty

I know you will be very excited about this next section because I am. You've probably noticed that we've linked some of our tools, such as the flight itinerary and hotel itinerary tools.

These tools were created by travelers for travelers to make traveling easier. Here's a list of Atlys' free tools that will make your next visa application a breeze:

How To Schedule A Germany Visa Appointment?

Booking visa appointments can be confusing. That's why we suggest you use our visa appointment tool I mentioned above.

Here's how you'll use it:

  • Step 1: Go to our visa appointment tool
  • Step 2: Select The Country You Are Traveling To
  • Step 3: Select an appointment slot
  • Step 4: Enter your email address

Once you have verified your information, you will get an email verifying your visa appointment booking.

Also, the German Embassy decides how many appointments they are willing to take. That's why it's important to ensure you book yours well in advance with Atlys' free appointment tool.

How To Apply For The Germany Schengen Visa?

Okay, now you know about our fancy tools, but how can you use them to apply for your visa?

We've made an easy 6-step guide on getting your visa to Germany from the US.

Please remember: Whether you are applying through Atlys or yourself, you can still use our free tools to get your visa without a hassle.

Here's how you'll apply for your visa:

Step 1: Gather All The Required Documents

First, you'll need to collect all the required documents I mentioned. Ensure that you start collecting these documents as soon as possible.

Remember, if you apply through Atlys, you'll get your required documents via email. These documents must then be used when submitting your visa application.

Note that your documents must be submitted in English or German. You can get your documents translated and certified by a certified translator.

Please do extra reading on certifying your documents before traveling to Germany.

Step 2: Fill Out The Germany Schengen Visa Application Form

Once you've collected your documents, you can start filling out your German Schengen Visa application form. You can download your application form online and submit it later at your appointment.

When you start filling out your application form, ensure that the information you provide is correct and accurate. If you provide incorrect information, your visa might be denied.

The Atlys app has a function where you can scan your passport's barcode. This means you won't make any mistakes while completing your information.

Step 3: Schedule Your Schengen Visa Appointment

This can be done by using the convenient appointment tool on Atlys. You can also call your local Embassy to schedule an appointment.

Remember to check which Germany Embassy is near you.

Step 4: Attend Your Germany Schengen Visa Appointment

On the day of your appointment, you must travel to your nearest Embassy and attend an in-person interview with an embassy official.

During your interview, you'll be expected to answer some simple questions surrounding your trip and the purpose of your trip. Be sure to answer all these questions honestly and truthfully.

Also, you're required to submit all your supporting documents at your appointment. I advise you to read up on how to ace your Schengen interview

Step 5: Pay The Germany Schengen Visa Application Fee

After completing your interview, you'll need to pay the German visa application fee.

You can pay your visa fee with a credit card or debit card. However, I always advise travelers to have at least enough cash if the card facilities are out of order.

Step 6: Collect Your Germany Schengen Visa

Now all you need to do is wait for feedback from the German Embassy. You'll receive feedback via mail, email, or the preferred contact method you've selected.

If your visa is approved, you must travel back to the Embassy to collect your new German Schengen Visa. However, if your visa application is denied, you can appeal the initial visa decision.

What Happens After I Apply?

The hard part is finally over. But what now?

In this section, we'll discuss what you can expect after applying for your visa.

Spire river in Germany with traditional houses

How Will I Be Notified About My Visa Status?

You can expect an email 7-15 days after submitting the visa application. This email will state if your visa application is approved or denied.

Once receive the email, you must head to the German Embassy to collect your approved visa.

If you do not hear anything within 2 weeks, I suggest you contact the German Embassy. Remember that you must contact the Embassy where you submitted your application.

What Does The Schengen Visa Look Like?

You've heard the term visa, but how does a Schengen visa look?

Please note that visas come in different shapes and sizes. For example, the Schengen visa is a sticker visa attached to your passport.

Here's an example of the Germany Schengen Visa:

Germany Schengen Visa Example

What Can I Expect At Immigration?

Arriving at Immigration can be terrifying and stressful. I mentioned earlier that I always get stressed when I see border officials.

Luckily, I have you covered. When you arrive at Immigration, ensure you have the following documents ready:

  • Your passport (with your visa inside)
  • Hotel itinerary
  • Flight itinerary
  • Proof that you meet the financial requirements (bank statements, employment contract, sponsorship letter, etc.)
  • Invitation letter (it's always good to have one when visiting family or friends)

Once the official approves your documents, you will be allowed to enter the Schengen area.

Expert Tips To Get Your Visa Fast

Okay, so we've covered everything about getting a visa to Germany from the US. But now, let's discuss a few tips on the fastest way to get your visa:

White Castle in green German landscape

Use Atlys

The first tip is to use Atlys. With Atlys, it's as easy as downloading the app, entering your travel and personal information, and paying the visa application fee.

Once you've completed the relevant information, Atlys will do the rest for you. No strings attached.

Apply At A Smaller Schengen Country

Suppose you decide to rather go through all the hassles yourself. In that case, we suggest you apply for a Schengen visa through a smaller Schengen country.

Remember, you can either apply for a Schengen visa to the country you'll be entering or where you'll spend most of your time.

Here's a list of all the Schengen countries:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Have A Detailed Cover Letter

It's very important to include a cover letter when submitting your application. This is because your cover letter serves as communication between you and the Embassy.

Therefore, ensure you have a detailed visa cover letter and that your information is correct. Please check our guide on how to write the perfect cover letter.

Apply Early

We see that travelers leave their visa applications till the last minute. So please ensure you apply at least 2 months before your planned trip.

Embassies can receive large amounts of visa applications, therefore, ensure you plan ahead.

Schedule Morning Visa Appointments

The last thing is to try and schedule a visa for the mornings. The reason, therefore, is visa appointments can run late.

You don't want to book an appointment close to lunch and risk sitting there while staff members take their break.

Rather book an appointment slot when everyone is still fresh and ready for the day.

COVID And Germany

You're probably so sick of hearing about COVID-19, but unfortunately, it can impact your travel plans. Therefore, I suggest you keep updated with the most recent COVID-19 restrictions.

What Are The COVID-19 Requirements For Germany?

There are no COVID-19 requirements to enter Germany. This means you do not have to provide the following:

  • Proof of vaccination
  • Proof of recovery
  • Proof of negative COVID-19 test

Germany lifted their travel restrictions on the 12th of July, 2022. This also allows traveling to Germany for all purposes.

I still advise you to always check the latest COVID-19 updates. You can do this when electronically getting your visa to Germany through the Atlys app.

And There You Have It

I think we officially covered everything you need to know about the Germany Schengen Visa. However, check our FAQ section for additional information about getting a visa to Germany from the US.

Written By: Armando Du Preez
Fact Checked By: Richard Nathan

Frequently Asked Questions

Do US citizens need ESTA for Germany?

No. ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is only required for German citizens who want to travel to the US. However, citizens from the US must apply for the ETIAS starting in 2023.

What Are The Document Requirements For Minors?

If you are traveling with a minor, they'll also need a visa. Therefore, you must submit the following documents for minor Schengen visa applications:

  • A visa application form (must be signed by both parents)
  • A notarized parental authorization (signed by both parents)
  • ID or Passport copies of both parents.
  • Students must provide a school certificate of enrolment/attendance and absence.
Can I Extend My Visa, And How?

Yes, but only in certain conditions. You can only extend your visa if:

  • You cannot leave the Schengen Area due to civil unrest, natural disaster, global pandemic, etc.
  • You are still in the Schengen Area, and one of your loved ones passed away (Humanitarian reasons)
  • Unrest in your home country (Force Majeure)
Common Reasons Why My Visa Was Rejected?

The most common reason visas are rejected is due to application forms with incorrect details. Therefore, always ensure the details in your application form matches your documents.

You can use the Atlys app to scan your passport barcode, which prevents typing errors when completing your visa application.

What To Do If My Visa Has Been Rejected?

If your visa application to Germany has been rejected, you have the right to appeal the decision.

I suggest you go through the rejection letter and find out why your visa application was rejected. Then, write an appeal letter to the German Embassy, which handled your application.

For more information about appealing for a rejected Schengen visa application, please check out our blog on denied Schengen visa applications.

Why Is The Processing Time Taking Long?

There are a few reasons why your visa processing time is taking longer than expected. Here's some posibilities:

  • The Embassy received a lot of visa applications (due to COVID-19 travel bans being lifted)
  • You made a mistake on your visa application form
  • You did not submit all the necessary documents

Please contact the Embassy if you have been waiting for more than 14 days.

What is a Mail-in Schengen Visa Application? Are you Eligible?

Germany lets certain travelers mail-in their visa applications. This saves travelers having to visit the German consulate for in-person appointments.

Only travelers that have obtained a Schengen visa in the past 59 months and have a valid United States residence status are eligible to mail-in their applications. There is no need to inform the consulate ahead of mailing in your application. However, mail-in applications have 2 additional requirements:

  • The filled Germany visa application and a copy of your United States residence status have to be notarized by a notary public.
  • The application has to be shipped to the appropriate consulate along with a pre-fixed return label addressed to you.
Which income proofs can be submitted to show the ability to cover the travel and stay expenses?

Many qualify however showing a bank statement is the most straightforward. You can also use one of these:

  • invoices of prepaid travels and accommodations
  • Pay stubs
  • travelers’ cheques
  • attested documents showing spouse’s consent in covering the expenses, etc.
What Is The Proof of Employment For The Germany Visa?

A letter from your employer is required as proof of employment. The letter should state:

  • Today's Date
  • Employer name
  • Position and title
  • A declaration that you will continue to be employed during your Germany visit
  • Contact and address information of the supervisor along with their signature.

For students, this is a letter from your university. For homemakers or those unemployed, a letter of support from any individual/organization. This includes but is not limited to your spouse or parents too.

How long is a short stay visa valid for? Can I leave the Schengen area and come back with the same visa?

The visa sticker contains information on the visa’s validity period and the duration of the authorized stay. A visa can be issued for one entry or multiple entries.

Note: You must have left the Schengen area at the latest on the day on which the visa expires and you must not exceed the authorized length of stay during the validity of the visa. If you have an authorized stay of 90 days, you must not stay in the Schengen area for more than 90 days in 180 days, this period not having to exceed the duration of the visa and the period of 90 days starting on the date of the first entry.

Can I apply for a visa on arrival?

No, Germany does not provide a visa-on-arrival.

Which country is responsible for processing my visa application?

The Member State competent to handle a request visa and decide on it is the one whose territory constitutes the sole destination (or main) or the trips.

Do I need a transit visa to Germany?

Nationals of the following countries are required to be in possession of an airport transit visa when passing through the international transit area of airports in Germany:

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Sudan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan Eritrea, Syria and Turkey.

Nationals of the aforementioned countries do NOT require an airport transit visa if:

  • they hold a valid visa for the United States of America, or
  • they hold a used valid or expired visa issued by the USA and return from the USA and travel to a non-Schengen Member State within 24 hours after the expiration of their visa
  • they hold a valid visa for a Schengen Member State, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Japan, Romania or UK,
  • they hold a used valid or expired visa issued by Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Japan, Romania or UK and return from the country of visa issuance and travel to a non-Schengen Member State.

Note: Airport transit privilege does not apply and you'll need a visitor visa if you have to pick up your baggage and/or have to check-in again (please verify with your airline) or if you are transiting through two or more airports in the Schengen Countries (for example: Miami-Frankfurt-Paris-India or New York-Frankfurt-Munich-India) or you hold an open ticket.

I have a double/triple nationality. Which one should I enter in my visa application?

You must enter the nationality of the passport with which you wish to travel. When you complete your application form, you will need to indicate your nationality of origin and your current nationality (that of your passport).

I am a visitor to the US with a B1/B2 visa and would like to spend two weeks in Germany after my trip to the US. Where do I

apply for a visa?

Only legal resident aliens in the US can apply for a visa in the United States. If you are only visiting you need to apply at the German Embassy or Consulate in your home country.

What is the difference between the German Tourist Visa and German Schengen Visa?

They are one in the same. Many people refer to the German Schengen Visa as a German Tourist Visa or the other way around

What are the proper Employment status documents?

If You're Employed:

  • An employment contract.
  • A letter from your employer that permits you to take leave from work.
  • Your bank statements for the previous 6 months.
  • An Income Tax Return (ITR) Form

If You're Self-Employed:

  • A copy of your business license.
  • An Income Tax Return (ITR) Form.
  • Your company's bank statements for the previous 6 months.

If You're A Student:

  • Proof that of enrollment at a recognized educational institution.
  • A letter from your educational institution that permits you to be absent from your studies.

If You're Retired:

  • A document that proves you're a retired (or any similar document).
  • Pension statement of the previous 6 months.
What Are The Germany Visa Photo Requirements?

The photo requirements for a German Schengen visa follow ICAO standards:

  • Two identical photos. Not older than six months.
  • Photo size: 35x45mm or 2 in x 2 in
  • In color. No black and white.
  • Head should cover most of the photo. Germany may make exceptions for religious reasons. Exceptions to this and the other requirements may be made in case of a permanent medical condition.
  • White background.
How do I travel to Germany with children?

You'll have to provide the following:

  • Application form signed by both parents
  • Birth certificate of the child
  • If a child is traveling alone, a notarized parental authorization is signed by both parents or guardians.
  • Copies of both parents

If the child travels with one of the parents, then there must be a notarized permission letter issued from the other parent.

Furthermore, in case of the parent's absence (divorce, death, etc.), a relevant official certificate (i.e., divorce, death and etc.) must be presented.

The visa photo requirements for children vary slightly. Children aged 5 and under do not need to have a neutral expression or look directly at the camera, and their heads do not have to be centered in the photo. Babies under one year do not have to have their eyes open.

Germany Schengen Visa Children Photo Requirements
Finally, Avoid These Common German Visa Application Mistakes:
  • Applicants forget copies of their passports. Yes! As easy as it sounds, many people forget two copies of their passports.- -
  • Expired H1B but a valid I-797. While this lets you legally stay and work in the United States, you're ineligible to get a Schengen visa regardless of how the United States interprets your status. A valid visa or Green card is a must.
  • Wrong consulate! This is especially bad in California, where there are 2 consulates - San Francisco and Los Angeles. To find the correct consulate for you, make sure to enter the right zip code on Atlys.

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