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5 ways to realistically estimate the length of a visa process

One of the most common questions we are asked regarding relocating candidates from abroad is, “how long is this going to take?”

The truth is that obtaining visas for candidates, along with performing the required relocation tasks, is composed of many small variables, which, together, generate the bigger picture. When we are asked to consult regarding the length of a process and the probability of success within a certain time period, we have to consider many parameters in order to complete the puzzle.

In this article, I tried to summarize some of the most important parameters to be taken into consideration and to provide you with guidelines, which will assist you while recruiting internationally.

1. Candidate´s country of origin: Candidates from most countries in the world have to apply for an entry National visa type D (or short: D-Visa) at the German embassy in their country of origin before relocating to Germany.

This D-Visa processing is a very central parameter in the length of the visa process. Although this is the normal practice, there are some exceptions:

Candidates from Australia, Canada, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea and the USA are exempt from the requirement of a D-Visa and could change their legal status from within the country, meaning, they could apply for their first visa after relocating to Germany.

Furthermore, some candidates already live in Germany and posses a work visa or a Blue Card. Others have just graduated from their studies in Germany. Those candidates could also apply for a work visa from within Germany, which means a shorter process.

2. Waiting times for a visa appointment: Assuming your candidate will have to attend an appointment at the German embassy in their home country, they will also need to book one and wait for it. In this prospect, whereas in some German embassies (such as in Moskau, Cape Town or Washington D.C) one can find relatively short-notice appointments, in other embassies (such as in Bangalore or Islamabad) we experience long waiting times for an appointment. This is however manageable in comparison to other embassies (such as in Lagos or Teheran), where it is almost impossible to get an appointment for the next coming year.

Even though our office managed to get some earlier appointments in the past, the waiting time for an appointment should be taken into consideration as a given and international hirings should be planned accordingly.

3. D-Visa processing times: As a rule, German embassies do not make decisions by themselves, but rather just take applications from candidates and send them to Germany for further processing. However, in some cases (for example, if your candidate is eligible for a type 1 Blue Card) the embassies have the authority to process applications and make decisions, which could shorten the processing times greatly: from several months to several days in certain cases.

4. Personal candidate parameters: How flexible is your candidate? Some candidates get their D-Visa and only then give notice at their current office (which makes sense, of course). Others need time to prepare themselves towards relocating. Some will, however, hop on a flight two weeks after they got their visa and start working two days after their arrival.

5. Residence permit application: Hurray, your candidate arrived to Germany! Please remember that the entry visas are usually valid for 3-6 months, and that your candidate will have to apply for a residence permit before their visa expires.