The Federal Republic of Germany has lured many bright students around the world to study at one of its prestigious universities in the past decades, with around 300 educational institutions with more than 15,000 different study programs.
The European country attracts a lot of international students every year, not only because of the eminent universities, but also because of the free educational system that it offers to its nationals and students coming from other countries around the planet.
Even though many citizens of the world do not need a visa to study in Germany, some of them might need a residence permit. There are also many others who need a visa in order to be able to enter Germany and request residence permit. Check below if you need a visa to study in Germany or not:
- Applicants who are nationals of one of the member states of the European Union, of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein do not need any visa in order to be able to study at one of the universities in Germany.
- Applicants who are nationals of the Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, United States of America and South Korea also do not need a visa in order to study in Germany. However, within two weeks of arrival in the country of Germany, citizens of these countries must register at the local Residents’ Registration Office and the Aliens’ Registration Office.
- Applicants who are nationals Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, San Marino or Taiwan shall apply for a visa only if they wish to work during or after they receive their degree in Germany. Otherwise, if they only plan to complete their studies and go back to their country, then they do not need a visa. However, both of them, who plan to work and who do not plan to work, must register for a residence permit within two weeks of arrival.
- Applicants who are nationals of other countries of the world, not mentioned above, must apply for a visa, and obtain one in order to be able to enter, stay and study in Germany.
German Long Stay Visa Types for Study Purposes
The respective German authorities offer different types of visas depending on the purpose of study. Find below the three types of German Study Visas:
- Language Course Visa – is for those who wish to learn the German language in Germany before applying to a German University, or for another reason. The validity of this visa may be from 3 to 12 months.
- Student Applicant Visa – if you have applied for a course and have a confirmation letter (plus other prerequisites, such as a secondary school certificate) but have not received a formal admission yet, you should apply for a German Student Applicant Visa. This visa is also for those who need to take acceptance exams for the university they have applied at in Germany. With this visa one can enter and stay in Germany for three months, with the possibility to extend it for 6 more months.
- Student Visa – if you have already received your admission letter from the German university you have applied at, then you can apply to receive a ‘student visa’.
Germany Student Applicant Visa Requirements
If you have not received your university admission yet, you shall apply for the Student Applicant Visa. You cannot obtain a Student Visa for as long as you are not admitted to any university in Germany. Aside from the Recognized School Leaving Certificates and documents proving Means of Subsistence, which are two of the very important requirements, you must also submit other documents.
This type of German visa is typically valid for a period of 3 months, but you can later apply for an extended period of six more months. You must apply at the at German Consulate or Embassy in your country.
The required documents to apply for a Student Applicant Visa are:
- Two completed visa application forms which you can download online.
- Two recently taken portrait photographs – taken according to biometric specifications, not older than 6 months.
- Recognized School Leaving Certificates – abitur or equivalent, or, proof of getting admitted to follow a Preparatory Course – “Propaedeutic Courses”.
- Proof of German Language Proficiency (if applicable).
- Confirmation Letter of Language Course Registration (if applicable) (the course must contain at least 18 hours/week of classes).
- Proof of submitting a university application and/or correspondence with university/ies – to prove you have a great probability of admission.
- Means of Subsistence – You must have 8,640 euro per year in order to be able to study in Germany (monthly amount of 659 euros). This might be a document of personal financial statements of the last three months, a document that shows you have a scholarship, fixed deposit statement, written confirmation of parents or sponsor that he/she will cover your costs along with a document that shows they have the means to do so, or other).
- Proof of covered health insurance – for the entire period of stay in Germany.
- Leave approval letter by employer (if employed).
- Proof of covered health insurance – for the entire period of stay in Germany
- Valid passport – issued within the last 10 years and that will remain valid for at least another year after your scheduled return from Germany. Passports with at least two empty pages are accepted.
- Proof of paid visa fee – 60 Euro (Since 14 May 2008, the fee for all types of visas has been EUR 60)
Germany Student Visa Requirements
If you are applying for a Student Visa then there are some requirements you must fulfill in order to be eligible to enter and stay in Germany during your period of studies. Aside of an admission letter from the university, you will also be asked to show proof of means of subsistence, in order to prove that you can cover your expenses while you are in Germany.
This type of German visa is typically issued for a period of 3 months. If you have to stay more, then you must apply at the Alien Registration Office in the German city where the university you are going to study at is located and get the proper Residence Permit.
You have to apply for a Student visa at the German Consulate or Embassy in your country.
The required documents to apply for a Germany Student Visa are:
- Two completed visa application forms which you can download online
- Two recently taken portrait photographs – taken according to biometric specifications, not older than 6 months
- Valid Passport – issued within the last 10 years and that will remain valid for at least another year after your scheduled return from Germany. Passports with at least two empty pages are accepted.
- University Admission Letter – you must submit the letter from the German academic institution/university (in German language) confirming the admission.
- Authenticated Certificates of Earlier Education (formal and informal) – Submit your mark sheets & other certificates of educational qualifications for high school classes, Graduation, Post-Graduation & others, as applicable.
- Means of Subsistence – You must have 8,640 euro per year in order to be able to study in Germany (monthly amount of 659 euros.). This might be a document of personal financial statements of the last three months, a document that shows you have a scholarship, fixed deposit statement, written confirmation of parents or sponsor that he/she will cover your costs along with a document that shows they have the means to do so, or other)
- Proof of Covered Health Insurance – for the entire period of stay in Germany
- Proof of Paid Visa Fee – 60 Euro (Since 14 May 2008, the fee for all types of visas has been EUR 60).
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.
For programmes in German, international students must provide a TestDaf or DSH score. Whereas, for courses in English, students will have to provide a TOEFL or IELTS score.
Visa application along with the necessary documents should be submitted at least 8 weeks prior to the date traveling to Germany in order to avoid any possible delay.
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, whether it be traveling or else, you will have to apply again from the beginning.
Extra documents may be required by the visa officer upon the visa interview.
- Fill out the application form for a national visa
- 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. If you have been told that you might submit later some of the documents, by a non-authorized person (friend, relative), most possibly it is not true. Therefore take care to have all of the required documents with you. If for any strong reason you have not been able to collect any of them, inform the consulate or the embassy in advance. They will probably ask you to schedule another appointment when you have collected all of the required documents. It is better to do so, rather than to attend the interview and then get turned down.
- 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.
Working in Germany With a Student Visa
Foreign students in Germany are allowed to work with a student visa while carrying their studies, but the number of hours they can work is restricted. Citizens of EU/EEA countries and Switzerland can work freely in Germany, but for no more than 20 hours a week during term time, (including voluntary work).
Students coming from other countries are also allowed to work, but they cannot exceed more than 120 full days a year or 240 half days. Unused days cannot be carried over to the next year.
International students with a residence permit wishing to stay in Germany and work after the completion of their studies, can extend their permit for up to 18 months, as long as they have found a job in their field of study.
Graduates from EU/EEA countries can stay and seek work without any restriction or permission. After two years of employment in Germany it is possible to apply for the permanent residency status.