Navigating the Ausländerbehörde in Berlin: A guide for foreign professionals
Sooner or later, almost every expat in Berlin will find themselves needing to make contact with the immigration office (Ausländerbehörde). Jetztpat, a company on a mission to simplify, enhance, and digitise the relocation experience in Germany, brings us a guide to navigating dealings with this authority.
If you're a foreign professional living in Germany, you've probably had your own experiences with Berlin's Ausländerbehörde. The immigration office in Germany's capital city is one of the busiest, making securing an appointment feel like a real challenge.
Bookmark this page! You never know when you'll need to tackle the Ausländerbehörde, and this guide is your trusty sidekick for the adventure. Whether you're renewing your residence permit, changing employers, or upgrading to a Blue Card, this guide will assist you in navigating the process successfully.
How to get an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde in Berlin: 4 paths
The first step to dealing with the Ausländerbehörde is to bag yourself an appointment - not always as easy as it sounds! Here are four ways you can go about it.
Booking an appointment online is the most common route. Unfortunately, securing an appointment online is a herculean task due to high demand. Appointments are sporadically available, and it's normal for the website to have limited slots. Be persistent, as new appointments randomly appear, mostly during business hours. We have experienced that short-notice appointments are more likely to come up on Wednesdays and Fridays.
As of October 2023, you can now submit your initial Blue Card applications online. Follow the instructions on the website, upload your documents, and the immigration office will schedule an appointment once they've verified your application.
Sometimes obtaining an appointment seems impossible, but unfortunately you can’t attend in person without an appointment. Therefore, your next choice is to apply by email. To do so, you need to find the correct contact form on the website of the “Landesamt für Einwanderung" in Berlin, which is split into "Referate" (departments).
For instance, if you need an appointment for your Blue Card renewal, you would choose Referat B1. When filling out the form, write your message in German if possible and provide specific details about your background and request. Attach all necessary documents to expedite processing. We have had mixed experiences with this method; in some cases, we successfully received an appointment, but in others, we did not.
Believe it or not, fax is still a common method of communication in Germany, especially for transmitting sensitive data in compliance with GDPR. There's a rumour in the relocation industry that using a fax might expedite the appointment process. While this remains a topic of debate, it's worth trying. For some offices, it might still work, while others have already shut off their fax machines. You can check this document to find the correct department and locate their fax number.
4. Registered mail
Alternatively, you can send your application by registered mail. Unfortunately, this method doesn't necessarily speed up the process compared to email, but it does at least ensure you get confirmation that your documents have been received and read.
We recommend sending your letter via "Einschreiben mit Unterschrift" so you can track if your letter has been received. This is important because a residence title stays valid so long as you submit all documents correctly and on time to the authorities, which can save you some trouble later.
The ultimate guide to a stress-free appointment: BIS
If this all sounds a bit much, the stress-free alternative for accessing the foreigners' office is the Business Immigration Service (BIS). They specialise in work and spouse visas and offer a more efficient route to secure an appointment. Unfortunately, this service is only available to companies. Here are some ways you might be able to access it:
1. Seek help from your company
Consider reaching out to your HR department to explore the possibility of registering your company with the BIS. Once registered, you can conveniently submit all the necessary documents online through the BIS portal, simplifying the process. Keep a close eye on your email for an appointment notification. On average, we receive appointments within four to eight weeks.
2. Use a relocation company
Another effective avenue for a smooth appointment experience is enlisting the expertise of a reputable relocation company. These professionals not only have established relationships with the BIS but also possess an in-depth understanding of the Ausländerbehörde's processes. They can guide you through the correct documentation, ensuring a seamless experience.
If you're ready to embark on your appointment journey with confidence, Jetztpat is here to assist you every step of the way. Reach out to them at [email protected] or visit their website for more information. Bureaucracy is a beast that consumes your time, energy, and sanity. Let Jetztpat handle the red tape for you!