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Apply for a residence permit to participate in the Federal Volunteer Service

The Federal Volunteer Service is a predominantly practical volunteering activity in institutions that are oriented towards the common good, particularly in social, cultural or ecological institutions in Germany. These include, for example, kindergartens, schools, care facilities, rescue services, forestry offices, theaters, museums, sports clubs and much more.

The Federal Volunteer Service lasts a minimum of six and a maximum of 18 months. As a rule, it is carried out for twelve consecutive months. Exceptionally, it can be extended up to 24 months if this can be justified as part of a special educational concept.

You will receive pocket money for your voluntary service (as of 2024: 453.00 euros per month).

  • Before entering Germany, you must usually apply for a national visa for Germany in your home country. In addition to EU and EEA citizens, nationals of Australia, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the United States of America do not require a visa.
  • After entering the country, you must then apply for a residence permit. The residence permit must be applied for before your visa or visa-free stay or your current residence permit expires.
  • Find out whether your immigration office allows you to apply online or has a special application form.
  • If the application can only be submitted in person, make an appointment with the foreigners authority responsible for your place of residence. If you apply online, the foreigners authority will contact you after receiving your application to arrange an appointment.
  • During the appointment, your identity and documents will be checked (please bring your original documents with you to the appointment). Your fingerprints and signature will also be taken for the electronic residence permit (eAT card).
  • You will receive notification by post that your application has been approved and that Bundesdruckerei has been commissioned to produce the eaT card, or that your application has been rejected.
  • You will receive information by post that you can collect the eAT card from the Foreigners' Registration Office. As the eAT card is linked to an online ID function, you must collect it in person.

The authority responsible for processing the application is the foreigners authority responsible for the applicant's place of residence.

You can find out which one this is online here:

  • You are a citizen of a non-EU or non-EEA country.
  • You can secure your livelihood (including health insurance cover) for the entire duration of your voluntary service without claiming public benefits. The subsidization of the Federal Volunteer Service by the Federal Government is not an obstacle to the granting of a residence permit.
  • There are no reasons of public safety and order to prevent your stay in Germany. There is no interest in deporting you.
  • If you are a minor: you have the consent of the person entitled to personal care for your planned stay.
  • Recognized and valid identity document (e.g. passport or passport substitute)
  • If you have recently entered the country: Visa, if this was required for entry
  • For a previous stay in Germany: Current residence permit
  • Current biometric photo in passport format (45 x 35 mm)
  • Proof of intended participation in the Federal Volunteer Service (e.g. agreement with the Federal Volunteer Service provider or the Federal Office of Family Affairs and Civil Society Functions)
  • Proof of means of subsistence (e.g. equity capital, proof of income, blocked account, pension certificate, proof of receipt of benefits such as parental or child benefit, maintenance payments, declaration of commitment)
  • For minors: Declaration of consent from the legal guardian to participate in the Federal Volunteer Service

The documents and information must always be submitted in German. In individual cases, the foreigners authority may require less or further proof.

Fee amount (fixed):

  • 100.00 Euro for adult applicants
  • 50.00 euros for underage applicants


Additional fees may be charged for issuing the residence permit in the form of an electronic residence permit (eAT card), which can also be used as electronic proof of identity.

The time and form of fee collection and payment vary depending on the authority.

In certain cases, fee reductions or exemptions may apply (e.g. for persons entitled to asylum or recognized refugees). Lower fees may apply for Turkish nationals.

Application deadline: The residence permit should be applied for at least 6 to 8 weeks before the expiry of your visa, your visa-free stay or your valid residence permit - but in any case in good time before the start of your voluntary service.

Period of validity: The residence permit is issued for the duration of the Federal Volunteer Service, which can last between six and 18 months.

Approximately 6 to 8 weeks

The processing time may vary depending on the workload at the immigration office. The production of the electronic residence permit by the Bundesdruckerei takes about 4 to 6 weeks.

Forms available: No
Written form required: No
Informal application possible: Yes
Personal appearance necessary: Yes

  • An appeal against a negative decision by the immigration authority can be lodged with the competent administrative court.
  • There is no preliminary procedure (objection) in Lower Saxony.
  • Detailed information can be found in the negative decision.
  • There is no entitlement to a residence permit for participation in the Federal Volunteer Service. It is always a case-by-case decision.
  • The residence permit is only valid for participation in the Federal Volunteer Service. If the purpose of your stay changes, you must inform the relevant immigration authority immediately.
  • The procedure is usually carried out in German. If your knowledge of German is insufficient, it is advisable to speak to a person who can act as a translator.
  • All information provided to the Foreigners' Registration Office should be correct and complete to the best of your knowledge and belief so that your application can be processed without major delays.
  • Incorrect or incomplete information can slow down the procedure and be detrimental to the person concerned. In serious cases, incorrect or incomplete information that is not completed or corrected in good time vis-à-vis the immigration authority can result in the revocation of previously granted residence rights, a fine, a prison sentence of up to three years or expulsion from the federal territory.
  • Due to the complexity of residence law, this description is for information purposes only and is not legally binding.

Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior and Sport


The text was automatically translated based on the German content.

Data protection information

Landkreis Emsland
Address: Ordeniederung 1 , 49716 Meppen
Postal address: Post Office Box 15 62 , 49705 Meppen
Telephone: 05931 44-0
Fax: 05931 44-3621
Transport Connection:
Station Haltestelle Kreishaus
Bus: 993

Building Access
elevator available, wheelchair-accessible
bank account:
recipients: Landkreis Emsland
bank: Emsländische Volksbank
IBAN: DE26266600600120050000
recipients: Landkreis Emsland
bank: Sparkasse Emsland
IBAN: DE39266500010000001339
recipients: Landkreis Emsland
bank: Postbank Hannover
IBAN: DE36250100300012132306


Marc-André Burgdorf
responsible for:
Bernd Otten (Datenschutzbeauftragter)
Telephone: 05931 44-1605
Fax: 05931 44-391605
responsible for:

Landesbeauftragte für den Datenschutz Niedersachsen
Address: Prinzenstraße 5, 30159 Hannover
Telephone: +49 511 12045-00
Fax: +49 511 12045-99

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