As I mentioned in a previous post about the requirements and procedures for applying for a Schengen Visa, we opted to get a formal obligation for my parents' visit this coming July. This document is only needed if the visitor's travel will be sponsored or paid for by a host in Germany. Applicable for the purpose of business, visiting family/friends and participation in a Language course. Remember this is just an option but you may have to provide other and sometimes more documents in absence of this formal obligation.
WHAT IS A FORMAL OBLIGATION (VERPLICHTUNGSERKLÄRUNG)?
In our case, since we will be sponsoring my parents' travel, we opted to get a formal obligation rather than just sending my parents an informal invitation. A formal obligation seems more, well, formal and binding as it involves going to the aliens authority (Ausländerbehorde) to get one. And because we want to make sure or at least increase our chances of getting a visa for them, this option seems more viable. Additionally, this means that my parents do not have to submit their bank statement of accounts for the last 6 months to the embassy but I asked them anyway to get one as well. More is better in this case.
By signing a formal obligation, the hosts agree to the following responsibilities:
- to pay all costs of subsistence for the visitor
- to refund any public resources, if the visitor should need social assistance (including accommodation, medical care, nursing care)
- to pay any costs for removal procedures (if the visitor should have to be sent back to the country of origin by German authorities)
Hosts have to live in Germany. Non-EU nationals need to be holders of a permanent residence permit or a temporary residence permit exceeding the validity of the formal obligation. A formal obligation may also be signed by a company residing in Germany.
The obligation includes all the costs which are needed to ensure the visitor´s maintenance and accommodation during the stay, such as expenses for food, clothing, accommodation (private or hotel) as well as costs for seeing a doctor, medicine, nursing homes or other medical treatments that are necessary. For this reason, it is recommended to take out a health insurance policy. In the case of sickness, the inviting party also has to pay the costs which are not covered by the insurance company or which exceed the insured amount. The inviting party also has to bear the costs in case of enforced removal. Such removal costs are for instance travel expenses (flight ticket and/or other transportation costs), possibly the costs for escort as well as costs for detention.
Note that the formal obligation should not be older than six months when the visa application is submitted (interview). The original document should be sent by the sponsor/host to the visitor as part of the Schengen Visa requirements.
REQUIREMENTS AND PROCEDURE FOR APPLYING FOR FORMAL OBLIGATION (VERPFLICHTUNGSERKLÄRUNG):
The host or inviting party should go or call the Ausländerbehorde responsible for their area of residence in Germany and make an appointment.
On the date of appointment, the host should bring the following.
- Passport or Identity Card of the host
- Salary statement for the last three months of the host. If not applicable, other proof of income (rental contracts, current statement of income, savings account, etc.) may be presented to show that the host is able to sufficiently support the visitors during their planned stay. To be sure, ask your Ausländerbehorde about which documents will suffice. Note also that there is a minimum required amount (income) that a host/sponsor should meet in order to be approved and it is different from municipality to another. In our case, it was a minimum of 1,200€ monthly net income to host both my parents.
- Personal details of the visitors:
- Full Name (including middle name)
- Date and place of birth
- Residence address
- Passport number or copy
- €25. This the issuance fee you have to pay per formal obligation. The formal obligation we got applies already for both my parents.
- Additionally, our Ausländerbehorde also required us to bring our Mietvertrag (tenancy agreement/apartment rental contract). This is for them to check that we have enough space to accommodate them during their stay. This was not included in the list of requirements when I did my research online. But the Ausländerbehorde in your area has the prerogative to ask for other supporting documents like this one.
The whole process of applying took us about less than an hour. Then we had to go to the Payments counter to pay the fee. After paying we went back to the Ausländerbehorde to present the receipt and we were able to take the Formal Obligation with us on the same day.