In order to enter higher education studies in Germany, especially in German Programme (with German courses only and mixed courses of German & English), the candidate must have the appropriate German language proficiency. Often, universities ask for a Language Certificate in order to prove your language ability.
There are few types of German language ability certificates which the universities in Germany recognize. Three main of them are as follows:
- Test of German as a Foreign Language (TestDaF)
- Goethe Institute German Language Diploma (GDS)
- German Language Diploma of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, Level II (DSD)
If you don’t have a Language Certificate, universities often require you to undergo a course in order to get one of the above mentioned certificates in Germany, which may last up to three months, or even more, in order to be able to get enrolled in your studies in Germany.
Citizens of the European Union member states, the European Economic Area and the European Free Trade Association are not required to obtain any type of visa in order to enter Germany and stay for a Language Course. They are only required to bring a valid passport or an ID card.
Certain limitations might only apply to new EU member states, therefore if your country has recently joined the European Union, then check at the German embassy or consulate website if you are required to obtain any visa in advance. Internationals coming from the above mentioned category of countries must register their new address at the local city hall or with the police.
Meanwhile, citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and the United States of America, do not need to apply for language visas, in order to enter Germany and attend a language course. However, they must apply for residence permit upon arrival in Berlin directly at the Immigration Office.
On the other hand, internationals not included in the categories mentioned above, must obtain a visa in order to be able to enter Germany and attend the language course they wish to. This is why immigration authorities in Germany have established the so called Language Course Visa, which is part of the National Visa, also known as D Visa.
A Long Term German Language Course visa is valid for three months, with the possibility to be extended for up to one year but no longer.
Language Course Visa types
There are two types of Language Course Visas that you can apply for, depending on what you are planning to do after the completion of the course:
- Language Learning Visa – if you are intending to learn German and then return to your home country.
- Residency for Study Preparation – if you’re intending to learn German as preparation for a recognized degree programme at a German University or Higher Education Institute at the end of your language course.
The Language Learning visa holder who wishes to apply for a German Student Applicant or a German Student Visa upon the completion of her or his course, must return to his or her country first, from where he or she can apply for the respective visa. Please note that if you have already been admitted to a university, but the completion of a language course is a condition, you only need to apply for a student visa which will also enable you to attend a course prior to getting enrolled at the university.
Requirements for Visa Application
Some embassies or consulates, may ask you to prove that you already have knowledge of German and may even request you to pay your language course fees in advance. If a visa is granted, you will have to attend classes regularly. Please note that you have to sign up for at least 18-25 hours per week. Find below the application requirements for a Germany Long Stay Language Course Visa:
- Two completed visa application form – The application form may change depending on your country. Fill the application form with detailed and accurate information about yourself and the purpose of your travel.
- Letter of permission from both parents – applies to minors (individuals under the age of 18).
- Your passport with at least 6 months of validity beyond the end of the visa period requested, with two blank pages available for the visa.
- Birth Certificate – applies only to minors (individuals under the age of 18).
- Confirmation letter of language course registration, or, certificate of enrollment. The course must contain at least 18 hours/week of classes for a duration of at least 3 months.
- Means of Subsistence – Proof of sufficient financial means for the period of stay. According to the European Commission information, a foreign applicant applying for a German Visa, must be able to prove the possession of 45€ per day to the German Embassy or Consulate for the period of stay in German territory. When the applicant is unable to finance his / her own travel and living expenses, a host, who is resident in Germany, can agree to take full responsibility for all charges and expenses accrued by the applicant during his / her stay. Any such declaration of personal commitment must be submitted for approval to he Foreigners’ Registration Authority in the host’s place of residence.
- Proof of covered health insurance – for the entire period of stay in Germany.
- Two recently taken portrait photographs – taken according to biometric specifications, not older than 6 months.
- Three copies of your passport – pages with information of the passport holder.
- Earlier Schengen Visas – if applicable.
- Letter of motivation – in which the applicant shows the reason why he or she wishes to attend a German language course. The letter of motivation is very important and one must try very hard, to convince the authorities for the reason behind the visa application, through it-.
- Proof of covered accommodation – for the entire period of stay in Germany. If you are staying in a hotel, you must show hotel booking. If you are staying at relatives or friends, they must submit proof that they have enough room for you.
- Leave approval letter by the employer (if employed) – this is very important because it shows that you have no intention to stay in Germany after the expiration of your visa, since you have a job to go back to.
- Proof of paid visa fee – 60 Euro (Since 14 May 2008, the fee for all types of visas has been EUR 60).
*Note: Each original has to be offered with 2 (two) photocopies
Depending on the embassy, you may also need to provide proof that you do not have any criminal record. You shall obtain the document at the authorities in your country of residence.
Extra documents may be required by the visa officer upon the visa interview.
- Fill out the application form for a national visa. Answer the questions honestly and be careful not to make any technical mistake. If any of the information you have given in the application form do not comply with the information in other required documents then you application might get refused.
- Ensure you have all the required documents – submit your documents in as many copies as they are required (usually in two copies). Submit in original, the documents that are required in original, otherwise your application will be canceled. Please keep in mind that your passport will remain at the Embassy / Consulate where you have applied during the entire process of visa proceeding. If you need to withdraw your passport for any reason, you will have to apply again from the beginning.
- Schedule an appointment for visa interview at the German embassy or consulate in your country as soon as possible. If you don’t book an appointment before you go to the Application center (embassy, consulate in your country of residence) to submit your documents for a German VISA, they will not accept your documents or application. All visa applications are accepted only if you have made prior appointment.
- Go to visa application center for the interview and submit your visa application. Don’t be late for the interview, and prepare yourself prior to it in order to avoid stress and unpleasant situations during the interview.
- Make sure you have paid the visa fee – after you pay the visa fee, you will be issued a receipt which you have to keep in order to collect your processed application.
Please apply on time for your visa for your German language course. Depending on the time you apply, the processing of your visa might take up to three months. Keep in mind that if you enter Germany with a tourist visa you can not extend it under no circumstances or modify the purpose of stay (i.e. from “tourist” to “language learning”) after your arrival in Germany.
If your visa application is refused, most of the courses will send back the fees you paid. Just take care to send back to the course the original letter confirming the course registration as well as the original letter of refusal from the relevant authorities and your bank details, or other documents they may require from you. However, the registration fee most of the time will be forfeited.
Working in Germany with a Language Course Visa
Note that under no circumstances, you will be allowed to work in Germany with a Language Course Visa. However, if you hold a Student Visa, but you are attending a course as a preparation for university, then you are permitted to work since you are a holder of the ‘student’ status.