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The numbers of foreign people choosing Germany for their abroad studies are increasingly growing each year. Most international students will likely need to get a German student visa at a German consulate in their country before they can come to Germany to study.
Depending on the country you come from, you might be exempt from needing a visa to study in Germany, but you are still required to obtain a residence permit for studies lasting more than 90 days, once you arrive in Germany.
Do I Need a Visa To Study In Germany?
- For studies that last up to 3 months, you need a Schengen visa.
- For studies that last more than 3 months, you need a German national visa
If you enter Germany with a national visa you have to extend your stay by getting a German residence permit for studies at the Foreigner’s Office. You should do this while your entry visa is still valid.
The first thing you’ve got to do is to find out if you need a visa to study in Germany as an international student, and if you do, what type of visa you need to apply for considering the length and nature of your planned studies.
Types of Germany Study Visas
You may be issued a Germany visa for studies for a range of study levels and degrees. This includes undergraduate, exchange, graduate, or postgraduate studies. This also covers participation in a pre-academic measure or in a non-academic German language course.
There are three types of Germany student visas you can apply for:
- German Student Visa. This is the standard student visa for international students who have been admitted to a German university and are ready to start their studies at a full-time university program.
- German Language Course Visa. You need this type of visa to study for a German language course in Germany.
- German Student Applicant Visa. You need this visa if you need to be in Germany to apply for university admission in person. This visa doesn’t allow you to study in Germany, it’s only valid for the university application process.
German Student Visa Requirements
The most important requirements for getting Germany student visa are:
- University Admission Confirmation Letter.
- Proof of Financial Resources “Finanzierungsnachweis”. €8700 deposit confirmation at a German blocked bank account.
- Student Health Insurance.
- University entrance qualification.
- Certificate of German or English Language Proficiency.
- Visa Application Required Documents. (See below)
Applying For A German Student Visa?
The best time to apply for a German student visa is immediately after receiving the university letter of admission, or the confirmation on registration in the course/preparatory measure.
To apply you’ll need to schedule an online German visa application appointment online on the website of a German mission in the country from where you apply.
It’s advisable to book a German visa application appointment for studies, minimum 3 months before you travel to Germany. So, don’t risk your chances for a timely enrollment in studies!
After you set your appointment, you’ll be invited for an official visa interview session with an authority at the embassy. Here are some of the most common student visa interview questions and answers.
In case you won’t need a German visa for studies, you’ll be able to enter Germany with a valid national ID or a valid national passport. If your studies will last longer than 90 days, you have to get a German residence permit appropriate for your studies at the Foreigner’s Registration Office “Ausländerbehörde”.
This applies if you have a citizenship from EU, US, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, or the Republic of Korea.
Keep in mind that you will be required to get a study visa with the necessary work permit if planning to work, partake in an internship or involve in a research project right after entering here.
List of Required Documents For German Student Visa
- Duly filled out and signed national visa application form.
- Your valid national passport.
- Two photocopies of your passport.
- Your certificate of birth.
- Your marriage certificate. (If relevant).
- Your child’s certificate of birth. (If relevant).
- Your recent passport-style photographs. (Up to 3).
- Photocopies of previous German residence titles. (If applicable).
- Previous Schengen visa.
- Previous German resident permit.
- Proof of financial resources “Finanzierungsnachweis”.
- Letter of commitment Evidence of your parent’s incomes and financial assets.
- Letter of commitment by a German resident “Verpflichtungserklärung”. This letter is taken at the Alien’s Registration Office, by the German resident whose going to cover your costs during your studies.
- German blocked account.
- Scholarship awarding certificate. It must show the amount of costs it covers.
- Bank guarantee. Issued to you by a recognized German bank.
- Proof of admittance in studies.
- Confirmation of admission in studies “Zulassungsbescheid”. Issued by a recognized higher education provider in Germany, showing when you’re starting your studies and the language of teaching.
- Proof of conditional admission “Bedingter Zulassungsbescheid” and a confirmed intensive course “Intensiv-Sprachkurs”. The letter must show you’re conditioned and confirmed to participate in an intensive language course before getting the final university admission. The course must last more than 6 months, with not less than 18 hours of lessons in a week.
- Proof of conditional university admission.
- Letter from “uni-assist”.
- Confirmation of admission as an applicant.
- Communication with the university, regarding conditions for final admission.
- Proof of having paid the language course. Accompanied by a confirmed place in the course. The payment must cover at least 3 first months.
- Confirmation of admission in a university preparatory course “Studienkolleg”.
- Proof of having been confirmed as a participant in the course.
- Recognized German language certificate. (For a German study program).
- Recognized English language certificate. (For an International study program).
- Evidence of your earlier education.
- Original school-leaving certificate.
- Degree certificate. (If you’re entering Master or PhD studies).
- University entrance qualification.
- Motivational letter.
- Covered travel health insurance. It must be valid for the entire period of your stay, since your arrival. (Original and two photocopies).
How long does it take for a German student visa to be processed?
It takes up to 25 days for your German student visa application to be processed.
If you’re a beneficiary of a German scientific organization scholarship, you’re likely to get a visa decision a few days from the application date.
Other German visa applications for studies are normally processed within 3 months.
Activities for which a Germany student visa can be issued
- Non-academic language course studies. A course lasting 3 – 12 months, with at least 18 hours of lessons in a week. The course must not be aimed to prepare you for further academic studies.
- Pre-academic measures. A course lasting more than 3 months, aimed to prepare you for full-time academic studies.
- Pre-academic German language courses. Participation on a preparatory course before sitting any of these recognized tests before studies must be a university prerequisite before your final admission in studies.
- Preparatory foundation course ‘Studienkolleg’ studies. The course has to prepare you for the qualification test ‘Feststellungsprüfung’. By passing this test you must expect to obtain a recognized university entrance qualification ‘Hochschulzugangsberechtigung’. (This applies if your foreign high-school leaving certificate is not recognized in Germany).
- Propaedeutic course studies. These courses must offer language and academic skills and specific knowledge regarding the education system and methodology in Germany. They must be held by the education provider you’ll be studying at.
- Partaking in a mandatory preliminary internship. Participation in an internship must be a precondition for admission in the study program, i.e. at the University of Applied Sciences.
- University degree awarding studies. You must have received the confirmation for admission in studies from a recognized higher education provider here. This is relevant for studies leading to a recognized higher education degree, such as Bachelor (BA, BSc, BSEng), Master (MA, MSc, MEng), or PhD.
Formalities to take care of after coming to Germany
1. Find your permanent house. In the first week of your arrival in Germany with a visa for studies, you’ve to find a permanent accommodation.
2. Register at the Resident’s Office. Immediately after this, you’ve to register such living address at the local Resident’s Office. Upon registration, you’ll be receiving the confirmation on registration “Meldebescheinigung”.
Required documents to register in Germany as an international student are:
- Your valid national passport or national ID card. It must show you have a valid visa if you’re a visa-regime citizen.
- Rental contract.
- Letter confirming your living address. Issued by your landlord of the place you’ve rented.
3. Enroll in studies. You have to officially enroll at the university to be able to participate in studies and get access to university resources. This has to be done within the enrollment period, within deadline announced to you in the letter of admission.
This process known as matriculation is completed by submitting a list of documents at the student’s affairs office “Studentensekretariat” of the university where you’ll be studying. Additionally, you’ll have to pay a semester fee before getting the ID and password and lastly the ID card as a student.
Required documents to enroll in university studies in Germany as an international student are:
- National Passport/national ID Card. It must show you have a valid entry visa for studies if you’re a citizen who qualifies for a visa to enter.
- Confirmation of admission in studies.
- German University Entrance Qualification. Or, equally recognized qualification, permitting you to start university studies in Germany.
- Recent passport-sized photographs.
- Student Health Insurance. (Not required for applicants for preparatory measures or PhD program). You’ve to get covered with a statutory health insurance i.e. AOK, TK, BEK for your entire period of stay here. This rule applies regardless if you’ve already covered with a private health insurance.
Note: The international office “Akademisches Auslandsamt” of your university is the key address where you may get a range of information about your studies and residence requirements
4. Apply for a residence permit for studies. As you’ve been registered in studies you’ve to get your visa extension by applying for a residence permit for studies as the local Foreigner’s Authority “Einwohnermeldeamt”.
Required documents to apply for a residence permit for studies in Germany:
- Duly completed application form for a residence permit. The original name ‘Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels’.
- Your national passport/national ID card. It has to show you have a valid entry visa, if you’ve entered with a visa.
- Documents showing your permanent address in Germany.
- Confirmation of registration.
- Rental contract.
- Letter from landlord confirming your permanent address.
- Recent passport-type photographs.
- Proof of financial subsistence. (Send the same evidence you’ve provided when applied for the visa).
- Proof of being admitted in studies. (e.g. certificate of enrollment, confirmation of admission, or evidence of conditional admission in studies.)
- Money to pay the application fee. The cost of applying is 56-100 euros for first-time applications, 49-96 euros for an extension of the residence permit. For Turkish people it’s 28.8 euros.
German Student Visa FAQ
What’s a university admission confirmation letter?
A university admission confirmation letter is a written confirmation that verifies that you’ve been accepted as a student. The confirmation letter usually contains the following information:
- Details of the education provider. The one you’ve been admitted to study.
- Acceptance reply card. You’ll be required to confirm you accept the offered place for studying. This is done by replying to the university admission office with a signed card.
- Enrollment deadline. Dates within you should register as a student.
- Exam dates. When the German language test or university preparatory entrance examination will be held. (If conditionally admitted).
- Details about the orientation day. A day when new students are informed about the university’s premises and activities.
What’s the university conditional admission confirmation letter?
It’s a decision taken by the university admission office after you apply, but that conditions you to complete a few more requirements before you become a student of that university officially.
This may usually include participation in preparatory measures and/or passing specific pre-academic tests.
What’s the University Entrance Qualification (HZB)?
Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB) is one of the key documents you need to apply for admission at a German higher education provider. It confirms the equivalence of your foreign education certificate with the German Abitur.
If your earlier education doesn’t qualify as equal to a HZB, you’ll have to undertake a test for recognition. This is relevant only if you also meet other university admission requirements.
Which language proficiency certificates are valid for studying in Germany?
The recognized German language certificates for studying at a German university are any of the following:
- TestDaF level IV. For having passed the TestDaF, Test of German as a Foreign Language for Foreign Students in all sections.
- DSH Certificate II or III. For having passed the DSH test, the German Language Test for Admission of Foreign Student Applicants.
- Assessment test at the end of institutional preparatory classes.
- DSD Certificate of level II. Language diploma of the permanent conference of ministers for education and culture affairs, level II.
- Goethe Certificate C2. For having passed the Goethe Test of level C2.
- Telc Deutch C1 or B2 Hochschule Certificate. For having passed the Telc C1 or B2 Hochschule tests.
To prove proficiency of English language, send any of the following certifications below::
- Official Score Report of TOEFL Test. The required scores: IbT-88, Pbt-66.
- Official Score Report of IELTS Test. Sent directly or to you by the British Council. The required group score in the IELTS Academic must be 6.5+.
- Cambridge Advanced English Certificate A, B, or C. Together with Cambridge Proficiency English Certificate A, B, or C.
- Alternative forms are exceptionally accepted.
Keep in mind that certain universities can have their own language proficiency requirements and not all language test and scores are accepted.
What are the transcripts of grades from earlier studies?
It’s the official document that your university/other HEI where you’ve previously studied at issues, showing all grades received during studies. It has to be signed and sealed.
What’s an accreditation certificate?
It’s a document issued by the relevant national ministry of education or similar national authority for recognition of an education provider or/and study program. By having this document you can confirm that your qualification is received by a state-approved provider.
What’s notarization of documents?
Notarization (also known as authentication) means that photocopies of your original documents must hold the official seal and authentic signature of the relevant authority.
The rule is irrelevant for signatures, certifications, and verifications provided in digital form.
What does the equivalence to bachelor/master degree in Germany mean?
If you want to start master studies in Germany after previously studying completing i.e. Bachelor degree studies outside the Bologna process, you must confirm the equivalence of these studies with Bachelor studies in Germany. You must get this document from the provider of such earlier academic degree.
What’s a curriculum for studying in Germany?
Curriculum for studying in Germany is a document with all understanding and skills obtained in your previous studies are listed in. However, such potentials must have relation to the requirements for the specific university program you’re applying.
The curriculum must be accompanied by a catalog of relevant study modules, where a detailed description of a degree program, department, division and university is offered.
What’s the information to include in the curriculum vitae?
When a CV is required you must include information about your earlier formal and informal education, internships, employment activity, national services in chronological order.
It must also cover information about your skills and other special talents. The formal education must include information about schools and universities where you’ve studied, study subject and graduation dates.