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I went on a business trip to Frankfurt from Aug 27 until Oct 3rd. Initially, I was supposed to stay there until Sept 23rd, but some work emergency happened and I stayed a little longer. While extending my stay, I only paid attention to the expiry of my visa, which was on Oct 10th, and I had no idea about the number of days I was allowed to stay there (29 in total).

So long story short, I was trying to get on my airplane at the FRA airport and they took me aside and told me that I have overstayed by 11 days (which is wrong, I only did for 9) and they assigned me a case number. I had no idea about this. After telling my boss, he said that he can write me a letter to explain the extra days if I need it.

I was very scared at the airport and I was crying very heavily so I didn't fully understand the next steps that I need to take for this. What should I do next? What consequence will this have for me? Can I ever go back there?

Additional chuck of information: I might have to move to Germany for a few years in 2024 for my work. While this pose an issue?

They gave me a paper stating that I have committed a criminal act § 95, paragraph 1, no. 2 German Residence Act.

Please help!

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    I'm sorry this has happened to you, visa rules can be absurd and often completely arbitrary. I hope you successfully get a work permit in the future despite this extremely minor transgression.
    – JonathanReez
    Oct 11, 2023 at 19:55
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    This isn't an answer but a summary of the correct action to take when getting a visa: Look it over carefully. Note exactly what the stay limitations are. Typically, it has both an expiry date AND a limit of # of consecutive days. e.g.: expire in 90 days, stay maximum of 30 days, cannot stay past its expiry, and re-entry limitations. Make sure you understand when you MUST leave, and what happens if real emergencies happen and how to get emergency extension. Immigration will absolutely frown upon negligent treatment of its visas.
    – Nelson
    Oct 12, 2023 at 1:10
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    Firstly: This in Germany, in the EU. You won't forcefully disappear or spend time in prison. No-one will harm you. Try to remain calm. Oct 13, 2023 at 15:19
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    I was very scared at the airport and I was crying very heavily so I didn't fully understand the next steps that I need to take for this. What should I do next? This is how you got into this situation - by not paying attention and understanding your obligations, and then assuming things were OK or asking the internet for clarification. The world is uncaring - I don't intend to be mean but you need to pay attention and ask for clarification immediately if you do not comprehend your obligations.... Unsolicited, but critical life tip.
    – SnakeDoc
    Oct 13, 2023 at 22:54

5 Answers 5

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There is now an official record that you apparently did break German law. I write 'apparently' because you have not been sentenced in court. Violating §95 AufenthG could lead to a fine or even to a prison sentence (the latter is not a realistic outcome), but they didn't do that.

In your favor, you did leave voluntarily after a few extra days. But the people who decide about your work permit next year will be aware that you broke the rules before.

  • Regarding the 11 days or 9 days, partial days count in full. Did you consider that?
  • A 'work emergency' is not what is normally considered legitimate grounds for an extension. Those would be (for instance) medical emergencies, or a volcano cloud interrupting flight, or things like that. If a legitimate emergency happens, it is important to contact the immigration authorities of the respective Schengen state before the visa expires. An unexpired visa can be extended in emergencies, an expired visa cannot be extended.
    That won't help you now, but it might help others reading this Q&A.
  • It was your duty to read and understand the terms of the visa, not those of your employer. A letter from your employer may not be helpful, especially if it raises the 'work emergency' as an explanation. It sounds as if you should consult a qualified lawyer on this before you make any more communications with the German authorities. Your employer might help with that.
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    What Mark Johnson quotes, but doesn't understand, is the significance of the word 'negligently'. An overstay is an administrative offence only if it is commited negligently and I sincerely doubt that 'not bothering to read and understand the visa conditions' is a good enough excuse to get an easier outcome. If you are accused of a criminal act, you will also likely be convicted for one. It might be a good idea to already now get a German immigration lawyer to handle your case instead of awaiting a potential conviction. Oct 11, 2023 at 10:58
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I’m looking for German lawyers now and will get one asap. Do you know what entails a negligent act in this situation?
    – Sarah20
    Oct 11, 2023 at 11:41
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    Oct 11, 2023 at 15:09
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Just to address the After telling my boss, he said that he can write me a letter to explain the extra days If I need it. part.

Whatever your boss writes in that letter, it will most probably work against you.

First, it is an admission of guilt. Not that this point is at dispute right now.

Second, and way worse, it sends the message that you feel like you can disregard your visa obligations whenever you or your boss decide to do so.

Neither you nor your boss have any authority to extend your visa, no matter how convenient(*) it is for both of you. A judge will not take it graciously that someone says otherwise, because it will send a clear message that you will break the law again the next time you want to.

And your boss cannot accept any legal responsability for your actions. Even if he ordered you to do so, it was you who did chose to remain for longer than allowed in Germany. It was you who broke German law.

Given how out of touch you and your boss seem to be with the realities of visa laws, you really should follow o.m.'s advice and get a lawyer before your situation worsens, specially if you want to go back to the EU for any reason.

(*) It is important for you to understand that. Having more work to do in Germany is not an emergency. Claiming that you decided not to leave because it would have been unconvenient to you or your boss is not going to get you on the good side of any judge.

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    "Whatever your boss writes in that letter, it will most probably work against you." Probably but what if his boss rights that the Company takes responsibility for bad advice and assure the Judge they have changed the process and will not repeat the mistake. Something like that might help.
    – deep64blue
    Oct 11, 2023 at 19:17
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    The intention of the boss’ letter would not be to imply that anyone thinks they have any authority over visa rules – it’s obvious to all parties involved that they do not. The boss’ letter would be to explain why the original return date was changed. The fact that the new return date was after the visa’s expiration is not directly related to that; the actual overstay is exclusively the asker’s fault, and must be handled as such, but during the process, she will likely be asked why she changed her original ticket home, and the boss’ letter would be useful to answer that question. Oct 11, 2023 at 22:19
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    @deep64blue that’s the issue, the company is trying its best not to expose itself to any potential legal issues and the compliance department will make sure of it somehow.
    – Sarah20
    Oct 12, 2023 at 2:55
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    It's definitely better to speak to a lawyer before getting a letter; the lawyer will be able to advise if a letter might help, and what to say in the letter.
    – Stuart F
    Oct 12, 2023 at 11:10
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    If your boss wants to actually help, instead of writing letters that (as this answer rightly points out) are meaningless, he'll get the company to pay for a decent immigration lawyer to sort this out.
    – MadHatter
    Oct 13, 2023 at 12:42
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FYI, from Visa-FAQs

If you overstay and do not contact an Aliens Department in Germany before the expiration date of your visa, you will automatically be denied your next Schengen visa. If contacted in time, the Aliens Department will examine the reason (e.g. illness, cancelled flights) and decide on a possible extension based on the extenuating circumstances.

FAQs are country-specific (and rules may be as well), and FAQs for US/UK don't include the question "What happens when I overstay?". Nevertheless, you should consider the possibility of being denied a visa for your trip next year. Consult an immigration lawyer beforehand, start your visa application well in advance, and have a plan B ready in case of refusal.

Also note that you got pretty lucky of not being fined before being let go (I assume they let you leave Germany after all). Some touristic EU destinations like Greece / Croatia always collect such fines even for minor overstays, apparently, Germany is more forgiving.

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Get your employer to hire you a competent German immigration lawyer - your company should be able to find one, even if you can't. Make sure when you talk to him that he is representing you - not your employer (you have different interests in this matter, yours are the ones you care about).

Listen to what he/she tells you and go from there.

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They're really strict in Germany immigration - I've lived there and unfortunately yes this will likely affect your ability to return next year. You'll likely be subject to a 3 year exclusion period at the very least, as it was your own responsibility to apply for an extension in your case. They don't make exceptions - my suggestion would be to be thankful you weren't fined or arrested, and consider making different plans for next year.

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    @Sarah20 Note the lack of the legal basis for the 3 year ban claim. Wait until the prosecuter decides to pursue the matter further or not. Oct 11, 2023 at 13:51
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    This answer is nonsense. They'd probably have to build several new prisons if they'd start imprisoning people for misreading the terms of their visa. Also really bad PR. "Germany will imprison tourists and business travellers for misunderstanding some piece of paper".
    – Jan
    Oct 11, 2023 at 14:47
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    While long term jailing would be absurd, detaining someone caught on the street (vs during an exit check) until a return trip was arranged wouldn't be unreasonable. Especially if they overstayed long enough that it appears that they had planned to do so indefinitely, instead of just misunderstanding their visa terms. Oct 11, 2023 at 17:54
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    @Jan They do not need prisons, just to put the offending person in SIS, then you will not get a Schengen visa or residence permit anywhere in the Schengen area. And that is a low barrier for them and a high cost to anyone overstaying their visas.
    – Dr. Snoopy
    Oct 11, 2023 at 19:06
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    @Jan The image of Germany abroad is so detached from the image of Germany abroad that the germans have ... The fact that it is really bad PR acrually plays in favour of it being realistic, see this example of a reaction to "Germany": morgenpost.de/politik/article237546067/…
    – EarlGrey
    Oct 12, 2023 at 13:39

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