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Apply for a residence permit for self-employed persons who have completed their studies or are working as scientists or researchers

If you have successfully completed your studies at a state or state-recognised university or comparable training institution in Germany or have a residence permit as a researcher or scientist, you can apply for a residence permit to carry out a self-employed activity.

The prerequisite for university graduates is the successful completion of studies that enable them to pursue a self-employed activity. Your intended self-employment must therefore be related to the knowledge you have acquired in higher education.

If you are in possession of a residence permit as a researcher or scientist, the desired self-employment must show a connection with your previous activity as a researcher or scientist.

The residence permit for the purpose of self-employment is a temporary residence permit. It is granted for a maximum of three years and may be renewed.


  • You have a recognised and valid identity document (e.g. passport or passport substitute) and, if this was required for entry - an appropriate visa.
  • You want to pursue a self-employed, freelance activity in Germany.
  • You can secure your livelihood and health insurance coverage without using public benefits.
  • If you have reached the age of 45: You can prove that you have an adequate old-age pension.
  • There is no interest in expulsion against you.

Your stay does not endanger or impair the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Which documents are required?

  • Recognized and valid identity document (for example, passport or passport substitute)
  • Current biometric photo in passport format (45 x 35 mm)
  • For university graduates: proof of completion from a state-recognised university or comparable training institution in Germany
  • For scientists and researchers: previous employment contract
  • Proof of securing one's livelihood (e.g. equity, blocked account, declaration of commitment)
  • Proof of health insurance coverage
  • Current registration certificate
  • After reaching the age of 45: proof of adequate retirement provision (e.g. proof of own assets, acquired pension rights, business assets)

In individual cases, the Foreigners' Registration Office may require less or further proof.

What are the fees?

Fee 100 EUR


Additional fees may apply for the issuance of the residence permit in the form of an electronic residence permit, which can also be used as an electronic proof of identity.

What deadlines do I have to pay attention to?

At the latest 8 weeks before the expiry of your still valid visa or residence permit, the application should be received by the Foreigners' Registration Office.

Processing duration

The duration of the application processing depends on the local conditions as well as on the factual accuracy of the information in the application and the completeness of the application documents.

Applications / forms

Forms available: No

Written form required: Yes

Informal application possible: No

Personal appearance required: Yes


  • Appeal against the decision of the Foreigners' Registration Office
  • Action before the court named in the notice of opposition if the objection is not complied with

What else should I know?

  • The issuance of a residence permit is at the discretion of the Foreigners' Registration Office.
  • Self-employment is any self-employed, permitted, profit-making and long-term activity, unless it is an employment relationship.
  • Scientists are persons who belong to the scientific community, i.e. essentially the scientific staff of universities and research institutions. Researchers also fall under the concept of scientist.
  • Holders of the residence permit can obtain a permanent right of residence (settlement permit) after three years of successful self-employment under simplified conditions.

Portal of the Federal Government for skilled workers from abroad:

Information from the Federal Employment Agency on access to the labour market for people from abroad (e.g. Migration Check for Employees, Leaflet on Employment of Foreign Workers in Germany):

Technically approved by

Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior and Sport

Source: Serviceportal Niedersachsen (Portalverbund des Bundes und der Länder)