1) What is the Ausländerbehörde?
The Ausländerbehörde, or foreigners’ registration office, is an essential part of the bureaucratic journey to a German visa. Anyone applying for a visa to Germany after their arrival in Berlin must visit the Ausländerbehörde in order to attain one. There are two Ausländerbehörde in the city, each of which cover different services. The Ausländerbehörde on Keplerstraße covers the following visa services: student visas, research visas, blue card visas, internship visas, language course visas, working holiday visas, and many more. To see their full list of services click here. The Ausländerbehörde on Friedrich-Krause Ufer offers artist visa, freelance visa, work visa, job seeker visa, and family reunion visa services amongst many others. Their full list of services can be seen here.
2) How can I make an Ausländerbehörde Termin?
Termine, or appointments, can be made online by visiting the Berlin website, selecting your desired service, and picking an available time and date for your appointment. Unfortunately, this process is often much more difficult than it sounds. Appointments are only available up to three months in advance, and because the appointments that are posted online go incredibly quickly the Ausländerbehörde appointment booking website often lists no available appointments. An insider’s tip for this issue is to download a browser extension that auto-refreshes the website and notifies you when changes are made (Medium). Sometimes people cancel their appointments at the last minute and an appointment in the near future will free up. Alternatively, if you speak German or have a friend who does, you can call up 115 for the Bürgertelefon and book an appointment. This is a great alternative as they are not reliant on waiting for the Ausländerbehörde website to update and will know immediately when an appointment is free.
3) I don’t have time to wait and I need an appointment ASAP, what should I do?
If you have run out the clock on getting a visa extension and are in desperate need of an appointment, try going without one. This certainly is not the fan favorite route and yields varying results in terms of wait times, but when you do not have time to wait for an appointment this option is always available. Familiarize yourself with Berlin Ausländerbehörde Öffnungszeiten, or opening times, and be prepared to live by them. Both foreigners’ registration offices in Berlin are open from 7AM-2PM on Mondays and Tuesdays, 9AM-5PM on Thursdays, and exclusively at the Freidrich-Krause Ufer location 9AM-3PM on Fridays. If you do not have an appointment, you can arrive at the Ausländerbehörde before it opens and stand in line to receive a small wait number slip (allaboutberlin). After opening, those with a small wait number will be worked in between the regular appointments. Some suggest arriving as early as 1AM, but in my personal experience I have arrived two hours before opening at the earliest and one hour after opening at the latest and still managed to get an appointment the same day. That being said, the earlier you come the less you have to wait. Arriving at 8AM on a Tuesday without an appointment meant staying until they closed at 2PM the one time I tried it. No matter when you arrive, you will probably be waiting a while, so bring along some water, some snacks, and something to keep you occupied.
4) What should I bring with me to my appointment?
You should bring all necessary documents for your visa application, which can be found listed on the page of your particular Ausländerbehörde service. If you are unclear on which documents your visa application requires or if you have correctly fulfilled them, we offer a low-cost legal consultation service that can answer any questions regarding your visa application process. In my personal experience it is not a problem if you bring only a digital copy of your documents, but they will just need to be printed there by the person who attends to your appointment which will take extra time. At the Friedrich-Krause Ufer location, you can pay to use the copier in the Kassenbereich. Ideally you should bring your own physical copies. Additionally, you should bring the cash amount necessary for your service if you do not have a girocard. At the conclusion of your appointment you will be given a card to insert into a payment machine where you can pay for the price of your service. This machine only accepts cash or girocard, German debit cards. There is no ATM in the building, so you will have to walk to an ATM and then come back in order to finish your appointment if you do not have either a German debit card or the cash amount with you. Only once you return the receipt from the payment machine to the person running your appointment will you be given back your passport and other documents (LEA).
5) Is it possible to have an appointment in English?
Unfortunately you cannot specifically request an appointment in English at the Ausländerbehörde. Many of the employees do speak English, but it is better not to bank on the hope that the person helping you will. If you do not speak any German or are unsure if your German will be up to the task, consider taking a German speaking friend along with you to the appointment. There is, however, an english version of the Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels, or application for a residence permit, which is a part of every visa application and can be found here in German, English, French, and Italian.
Between the two Ausländerbehörde in Berlin, they have an average of 2.8 stars on google maps, so suffice it today they are no one’s favorite part of the visa process, but if you prepare well for your appointment it can be a relatively painless experience.
Good luck and wilkommen in Berlin!