I am a non-EU citizen. I am travelling to Germany for a summer internship, which will last around two months. I am being paid money for local expenses through a fellowship, but I am covering the rest of my travel myself. Additionally, I have only received an invitation letter from the institution.

I have applied for a Schengen visa, as the duration is less than 90 days. My PI said I will not need the work permit, however, it is specified in the visa requirements on the VFS Global website.

Will I require the work permit for this period (Bundesagentur fur Arbeit), or can I be exempted from it?

Update: I did need it. My visa has been rejected for the very reason that I did not have the permit.

  • 2
    I do not know the answer but I seem to recall it also depends on the type of organisation hosting you. You mentioned a PI, is that an internship at a university?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Apr 9 at 17:09
  • @Relaxed it is an observatory, and a state observatory at that.
    – S.K.
    Commented Apr 10 at 2:16
  • VFS Global is a private for-profit company. I would take their suggestions with a pinch of salt ...
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Apr 10 at 7:16
  • @EarlGrey VFS Global is also (unfortunately) the authorized visa application center (that you are forced to use to apply for a German visa) for many countries.
    – ave
    Commented Apr 10 at 21:07
  • @ave Schei.....
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Apr 11 at 7:35

3 Answers 3


Will I require the work permit for this period

EDIT : No, you won't

The German mission in India has the form for a Short-Stay Fellowship visa, you can use it to apply for it

A fellowship (German translation: Hospitation) is only allowed for observational purposes and is legally not considered as “work”. Detailed information as described under B) is required to determine if this requirement is met or if the legal purpose of the trip is an internship. Failing to provide proper and complete information may result in a denial of the application due to missing proof of travel purpose. Please note that it might have legal consequences for the applicant as well as the hosting institution in Germany if proper permits especially of the Federal Employment Agency are not obtained

  • @NicolasFormichella thanks for the help! that pretty much clarifies everything
    – S.K.
    Commented Apr 10 at 17:48

You are probably in a grey zone: you have a fellowship, so in the german system you are not considered a worker, therefore you are not "working".

As a student, you may be required to have an health insurance, but since you are staying less than 90 days, you may apply for an exemption (it is still a good idea to have some insurance, though). Not being formally affiliated with an university is also something that precludes you the full status of "student".

Basically you can be considered a tourist with a strong interest in academy (terms and conditions apply, I am not lawyer).

  • I have applied for health insurance, that would anyways be a requirement, I am just slightly concerned about the work permit requirement. But thank you for your response!
    – S.K.
    Commented Apr 10 at 2:17

Working visa for Germany:

Different types of work visa

The following types of work visa exist, depending on the applicant’s level of qualification:

  • Visa for skilled workers holding a university degree (Section 18b of the Residence Act [AufenthG])
  • EU Blue Card (Section 18g of the Residence Act [AufenthG])
  • Visa for skilled workers with vocational training qualifications (Section 18a of the Residence Act [AufenthG])
  • Visa for employment in the case of practical professional knowledge (Section 19c (2) of the Residence Act [AufenthG] in conjunction with Section 6 of the Ordinance on the Employment of Foreigners [BeschV])

There are also special regulations for certain groups of professionals, such as healthcare assistants and professional drivers, and for nationals of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia (Western Balkans Regulation).

(Source, as of 04/2024)

For interns coming from abroad (non-EU/non-US):

Interns from abroad

Would you like to offer a student from abroad the opportunity to do an internship in your company or business? This is feasible as long as the visa and residence requirements are met.

If the intern comes from the EU or EEA, they can be employed without any further restrictions. The same labour law regulations apply for German interns.

Does the student come from a third-country and they travel to Germany in order to complete an internship? Generally, a residence title is required. With the residence permit for the purpose of doing an internship, for example, third-country nationals can be employed as interns for up to 6 months without the approval of the Federal Employment Agency (BA). Read more about the visa for a study-related internship EU.

(Source, as of 04/2024, highlight added by me)

Students from abroad can also find further information here.

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