If you need to apply for a residence permit or renew a German visa, you must go to the Ausländerbehörde. There are two ways to go to the Ausländerbehörde in Berlin:

  • With an appointment
    Get an appointment online, then go to your appointment. It's often impossible to get an appointment in time. You must check Berlin.de again and again. Appointments are only released for the next 3 months. New appointments are released every day.
  • Without an appointment
    Go to the Ausländerbehörde early in the morning, and wait in line. You could get an appointment on the same day, or in a few weeks. If there aren't enough appointments for everyone, you must try again another day.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: The Ausländerbehörde offers appointments online. It is also possible to queue outside, as described below. You must arrive earlier, because the line is longer than before1.

The original guide was a guest post by Kathleen Parker from Red Tape Translation. It was completely rewritten in 2020, again with Kathleen's help.

Go to the correct Ausländerbehörde

The Ausländerbehörde on Keplerstraße

The Keplerstraße office handles the following visas1:

  • Blue Card
  • Internship visa
  • Job seeker visa (for graduates of a German university)
  • Language course visa
  • Permanent residence
  • Research visa
  • Student visa
  • Vocational training visa
  • Working Holiday Visa

The full list of services is on Berlin.de.

The Ausländerbehörde on Friedrich-Krause-Ufer

The Friedrich-Krause-Ufer office handles different types of residence permits:

The full list of services is on Berlin.de.

Go at the right time

If you don’t have an appointment, both offices have the same opening hours1, 2:

  • Monday and Tuesday from 7:00 to 14:00
  • Thursday from 9:00 to 17:00

If you don’t have an appointment, go to the Ausländerbehörde many hours before it opens, get in line, and wait until the doors open. You will wait outside. There are no bathrooms, no chairs, and no protection from the rain. You must arrive between 4 and 6AM to get an appointment1, 2, 3. If you arrive too late, you will not get an appointment, and you will have to come back another day1.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: There are more people waiting in line than before. You should arrive before 4AM to get an appointment1. At 5AM, there are hundreds of people in the line.

Each Ausländerbehörde has multiple offices (A, B, C, D...). Each office handles different types of visas. You must wait in the correct line.

Useful links:

When the opens

When the doors open, they let people come inside in groups of 301. They don't always have enough appointments for everyone. If they run out of appointments, they will tell you to come back another day.

If you are lucky, you will get a ticket with a number on it. When you have a ticket, you must go in the waiting room, and wait for your number to be called. There are multiple waiting rooms. Make sure you are in the correct one.

The numbers are called on the television. When your number is called, you must go to the office number shown on the television.

When your number is called

Your number will be called a first time. You will sit in front of an Ausländerbehörde employee and show your documents. This takes around 5 minutes. The employee will tell you to go in the waiting room again, and call your number again in 20-40 minutes.

Some Ausländerbehörde employees speak English, but many don't. Always bring a German speaker with you. Red Tape Translation and c/o Germany can go to the Ausländerbehörde with you. We personally recommend their services.

If your visa application is approved

If you are lucky, you will get your new residence permit immediately. They will put a sticker in your passport. You only need to pay for the residence permit and you're done!

If you are not lucky, you will get your visa in a few weeks. You will get an email or a letter that tells you to go to the Ausländerbehörde again. If your current visa is about to expire, don't panic! You usually get a temporary permit that lets you stay in Germany a bit longer.

If you need to pay something, you will get a plastic card. You must bring that card to a payment machine in the same building. You put the card in the machine, then you pay with your credit card or debit card.

If your visa application is rejected

If some documents are missing, you can often come back on the same day.

If your Schengen visa is expires soon, but your permit application is incomplete, don’t assume you’ll automatically get an extension just by visiting the office. Your caseworker might advise against submitting your application, knowing that it won’t be approved because it is incomplete, and if there’s no submitted application, there’s no reason to give you an extension while they wait for a decision. In other words, don’t leave this until the absolute last minute.

If you get a rejection letter, it will either ask for more information, or tell you that your application was not approved. You will still have a month to respond or appeal. At this point, you should probably hire an immigration lawyer.

Where to get help

If you need someone to go with you, we recommend Red Tape Translation and c/o Germany. Kathleen and Johanna regularly help us with our Ausländerbehörde questions, and contributed to many of our guides.

There is a Facebook group for people who are trying to get an appointment. People say where they went, and how long they had to wait.

Useful resources: