Applying for the Correct Visa
International students applying to study in Germany may require an entry visa, depending on their country of origin and planned length of stay. Information about individual requirements can be found via local German embassies or consulates, the locations of which can be found via the German Federal Foreign Office, or via online resources.
Prior to an application for a student visa, the following points must be considered:
- Apply early. Visa processing can take several months and admission to Germany will not be allowed without a complete visa.
- Apply for the correct version. Other styles of visa, such as tourist or language course, can not be converted into a student version. Failure to do so, or providing an incorrect version, will mean ejection from Germany.
- Schedule your trip to Germany correctly. Enrolment at an University is a prerequisite for the residence element of a student visa.
- Check your passport to make sure it covers the entire prospective stay. If a student’s passport expires during their stay in Germany, they will have to return to their home country in order to renew.
Visa Requirements for your Country
Visas are generally required for most prospective students prior to any trip to Germany. However, they differ from country to country. Details for specific countries’ requirements and all other information regarding the process can be found at local German diplomatic institutes, or via the German Federal Foreign Office website online.
The Correct Visa
Visas for students generally fall into one of two styles, depending on the state of a prospective student’s application with a German university. They are as follows:
1. Student application visa (“ Visum zur Studienbewerbung”)
This three-month visa is designed to allow a student to meet the requirements necessary to gain admission to a German university before acceptance has been gained. It may be extended to a maximum of six months. If an acceptance is gained during this period, application may be made for a student visa.
2. Student Visa (“Visum zu Studienzwecken”)
Once admission has been gained for a university course, a student may obtain a student visa. These are generally valid for a period of three months, during which time a student must apply for an extended residence permit at their local Alien Registration Office.
Required Documents for a Visa Application
While an extensive list for each country can be obtained at local German diplomatic institutes, a general list of documents is usually required. They are as follows:
- Certificate confirming health insurance coverage
- Proof of financial ability
- Certificates of academic work and achievements
- Certificate of German language proficiency, or proof of future intent on attending language courses in Germany
- Either a university entrance qualification for a student applicant visa, or notification of acceptance from a German university (or a statement proclaiming potential success) for a student visa
Residence permits are for those:
- Not a citizen of an EU member state, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, and
- Intend to study longer than 90 days
Application for a residence permit must be made in a student’s local University town, within the first three months of residence in Germany. The following documents will be required:
- Confirmation of registration from the Residents’ Registration Office
- Confirmation of private or public health insurance coverage
- Student ID from the German University in question (certificate of enrolment)
- Proof of financial resources (if not provided during visa application)
- Valid passport and current visa, if applicable
- Certificate of health, if applicable
- Tenancy agreement, if applicable
- Biometric passport photos, if applicable
- Payment for the residence permit fee (current rate available at the International Office)
An initial residence permit for two years is provided, which can be extended if necessary. Applying for this visa is via the nearest Alien Registration Office in Germany. This extension is granted based on the student’s ability to proceed satisfactorily in their degree programme. The university will provide a notice to this effect. Extensions must be requested prior to the expiration of the residence permit, as the process may take some time.