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I am a doctoral student in Germany and am inviting my parents from India for a short visit. I sent them an official invitation letter from the Ausländerbehörde which is called Verpflichtungserklärung. This invitation clearly states that they will be accommodated at my apartment (a studentwohnheim - student apartment) which is big enough for all of us.

The German Consulate in India is not accepting this letter and is saying that it cannot be used as a proof of accommodation, is it really true?

They are asking me to book a hotel and show the confirmation of the booking. But my family is going to stay with me and not at a hotel. What do I do now?

I am in a fix, really can't understand these people. Is it OK if I just book a hotel and then cancel it once they get the visa?

Is it safe to do that, or are there any new rules regarding this?

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    "which is big enough for all of us" - this might play a role: Is that your estimate and opinion, or is the "big enough for all of us" actually based on any numbers with respect to apartment area? – O. R. Mapper Mar 25 '15 at 16:38
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    The embassy employee may also suspect that your rental contract doesn't actually you to host guest other than for very few nights. They may also suspect that you just rented a single room in a student dorm with a shared bathroom and shared kitchen, which they would deem to be unsuitable for lodging guests. Not sure if this is why they rejected the letter, thoguh. But this may be what they thought when doing so. – DCTLib Mar 25 '15 at 19:30
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    They are being uncharacteristically indulgent to provide you an opportunity to improve the quality of your application. You should be grateful for that! – Gayot Fow Mar 25 '15 at 19:48
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In this case the German consulate is right.

You wrote that you are a doctoral student in Germany, meaning that you have not acquired permanent residence there. But the Verpflichtungserklärung is intended for permanent residents and citizens only. It means you do not have the standing to use that form of assurance.

benötigt Ihr Gast in der Regel eine Verpflichtungserklärung eines Gastgebers, der seinen ständigen Wohnsitz in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland hat.

(emphasis mine) Source: https://service.berlin.de/dienstleistung/120691/

or roughly...

...your guest needs a 'commitment explanation' (liability undertaking) from the hosts, he who possesses permanent residence in the Federal Republic of Germany'

You can make a hotel confirmation and send it to support the application. If you later cancel the reservation that's fine as long as your parents have something to show for their NEXT visa application.

Short answer: give them what they ask for.

Adding: please see http://www.linguee.de/deutsch-englisch/uebersetzung/st%C3%A4ndiger+wohnsitz.html for more.

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    Sorry, but "ständige Wohnsitz" only means that the person who invites lives more than 180 days per year in Germany. It has nothing to do with permanent residence permit. E.g., I did the Verpflichtungserklärung, although I do not have a permanent residence permit. See de.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120606064755AAXE8Ux and tagesgeld.info/ratgeber/wohnsitz-in-deutschland – Andrey Sapegin Mar 25 '15 at 19:12
  • @AndreySapegin, good point, answer updated with link – Gayot Fow Mar 25 '15 at 19:29
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    " It means you do not have the standing to use that form of assurance." - actually, it means that he has to use it, since he lives more than 180 days per year in Germany. – Andrey Sapegin Mar 26 '15 at 7:57
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"This invitation clearly states that they will be accommodated at my apartment (a studentwohnheim - student apartment) which is big enough for all of us."

I must correct you.
A student apartment in Germany has normally something like 10-20 square meters which is not sufficient for three people. While it may be spacious enough for India, in Germany the rule of thumb is 1 room for 1 person. And a student apartment has a shared bathroom and kitchen, so other roommates will inevitably notice your parents. Worse of all, this is not your apartment, you got the room only by accepting the rules of the Wohnheim.

Practically students will be light-hearted and normally you will have no problems that your parents are visiting you, but you put yourself at risk if you continue your approach. I have sometimes the feeling that foreign students do not take German bureaucracy seriously until it is too late. Remember: They can kick you out anytime without paying attention how much trouble it causes you.

So the German Consulate is quite correct, you may not offer your room to your parents. I also think you were careless: As already noticed by Gayot Fow you are not able to use a Verpflichtungserklärung (which they probably see as inexperience).

So pay the hotel rooms (if you cannot, there is a good reason for the Consulate to deny the visit. Papers, flight tickets and money can be stolen and if you are not able to handle this, your parents should not have visited you in the first place).

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    I just wrote the similar in the edit to my answer. However, the rule is not 1 room for person, it is 12 sqm per person. I also think that if you rent a room in the dormitory, you could able to invite guests (but this depends on the dormitory, of course). See gutefrage.net/frage/… – Andrey Sapegin Mar 25 '15 at 19:38
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    +1 "Worse of all, this is not your apartment, you got the room only by accepting the rules of the Wohnheim" - gold! forgot about that part in my answer. – Gayot Fow Mar 25 '15 at 19:39
  • @Gayot Fow. Well, if you rent a room in the dormitory, you still have some rights;) – Andrey Sapegin Mar 25 '15 at 19:45
  • @AndreySapegin, LOL, yeah but a quick tryst is hardly comparable to two parents in the same quarters :) Even in Germany... – Gayot Fow Mar 25 '15 at 19:56
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According to the German law (§ 68 AufenthG), you do not need an "official invitation letter from the Ausländerbehörde" (the law says that you need an 'Verpflichtungserklärung', but it does not say that it should be approved by Ausländerbehörde). You could write 'Verpflichtungserklärung' by yourself, just by hand. I also do not think, that German Consulate in India is right about it, however, they could have some internal country-specific rules.

EDIT: From my experience, German Consulate is not completely right, or you just do not know their reasoning. It makes no sense for them to ask for hotel, since the accomodation will be at your apartments. However, I'm not sure if your should push them, maybe the hotel will be an easier way...

If you will decide to push them, this could be a useful link:

http://www.mth-partner.de/auslaenderrecht-anwalt/auslanderrecht-rechtsbehelfe-gegen-ablehnenden-bescheid-der-botschaft-remonstration-und-klage/

http://www.anwalt.de/rechtstipps/visum-abgelehnt-was-tun_016432.html

However, probably, you first need to get a "decline" from the consulate to write a complaint on it. So your parents will not get to Germany so fast in this case.

What I would try to do, just call the consulate and talk with them about the situation. Or directly ask for the phone appointment with the embassador. Usually, an embassador is obliged to have some time for conversations with "usual" people.

2 more things to consider:

  1. For the formal Verpflichtungserklärung, there could be also different text in it. Depending on the State of Germany where you live and your financial status, it could be written there, that your financial status is not proven/enough and so on. In this case the people you invite should show that they have enough money for the trip.

  2. Maybe your appartaments are too small (12 square meters per person, http://www.ailebirlesimi.de/html/ehegatten_von_auslaendern_in_deutschland.html?t=)

  • I did write them an informal invitation at first; but then they asked for an official invivation. And now after this another proof of accomodation :D I guess I have to book the hotel and cancel it - hope it does not create problems when they arrive here... – Pony Mar 25 '15 at 15:25
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    From what I have seen when inviting non-European guests, a "Verpflichtungserklärung" is a formal document (like this) that can be issued by town administration (Bürgerbüro) in exchange for various documents that prove your steady income etc. You cannot just write it yourself. – O. R. Mapper Mar 25 '15 at 16:37
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    ... However, WP does agree with you in that strictly speaking, one is not absolutely obliged to use the form. This information is not always readily provided by the respective administrative agencies, and I suspect it is maybe not known to them, though. – O. R. Mapper Mar 25 '15 at 16:53
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    @GayotFow: See stackoverflow.com/editing-help#comment-formatting for comment formatting info. – Greg Hewgill Mar 25 '15 at 19:12
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    @AndreySapegin Visits of parents are not uncommon, so if seems to be clear that there will be no trouble, consulates may be more lenient. §68 Abs.2 in fact only requires that the declaration must be in written form. And you are likely (?) from a more prosperous country than the OT. But it really sounds like: CHILDREN, DON'T DO THIS. THIS IS SOMEONE TAKING RISKS AND IT CAN HURT. – Thorsten S. Mar 25 '15 at 19:58
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I tried once to invite family members with an Invitation + "Verpflichtungserklaerung" and the visa was denied (sorry don't remember the exact reason).

Instead my family members applied for a "Tourist Visa". Here they had to get a Hotel reservation. I got a booking.com Reservation with "Free Cancellation" and canceled the reservation after the Visa was granted.

My family members reported that when applying for tourist visa the process was a lot easier and the interviewer at the consulate were less suspicious and more friendly.

So if the financial situation of your family allows applying for a tourist visa I suggest taking that route.

  • One should be aware that whether getting a tourist visa is easier or not depends on the country of origin of the guests. For guests with an Indian passport, it may actually be the other way around. – DCTLib Apr 3 '15 at 10:23
  • absolutely agree. I have no experience with Indian citizens. – arved Apr 3 '15 at 12:46

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