Germany is raising more and more popularity among international students, especially since the country abolished tuition fees for higher education. There are over 15,000 German degree programmes and some of them were especially designed to be taught in English.
When it comes to applying to a German Master's or Bachelor's degree, you may find differences between requirements for some of the countries. Citizens of countries that are not members of the EU/EAA or not from Switzerland have a different application and enrolment process, that involves organising information, gathering documents and a restricted time schedule. This stage may sound tedious and long lasting, but it insures your way to an accredited and free degree.
If you do not know the status of your country regarding the necessity of a student visa, you may find out more from this list of visa requirements or exemptions.
What type of visa do I need for my study in Germany?
- Student applicant visa: a document you will need in order to enter Germany if you haven't been admitted to a university yet. If you are interested in visiting German university campuses, checking out study possibilities or ways how to spend your stay in the country, than this visa is the right one for you. Student application visa is usually issued in several months and grants you a stay of three months with the optional extension of up to six months.
- Student visa: If you have been accepted to a German degree programme or a foundation course, you can enter Germany through the visa for study purposes, which is also valid for three months. This is the most popular type of student visa in Germany.
- Residence permit: After you received a student visa and found accommodation, you are required to apply for a residence permit. The document is issued in four six weeks and it is valid for one year. For exceptional cases, the permit is valid for two years. However, you will need to extend it during your studies.
When should I apply for the student visa in Germany?
It is time to apply for a student visa after you have set your higher education and future career goals and you were admitted to a university programme in Germany. Apply for visa at the German embassy or consulate in your country.
The visa issuing is a personalized process, so requirements may change along the way. You are advised to apply for a student visa at least three months before your arrival to Germany. The processing of your application may take up to 25 days.
After you submit the required documents, they will be sent to the Immigration Office of your university for approval, than returned to the embassy or consulate in your country.
Once you received a student visa and arrived in Germany, you need to begin procedures to apply for a residence permit, so that the processing and issuing period can cover the three months of your student visa.
Tips about my visa application
- It is important that you first mention the type of visa you apply for. If, by accident, you select the option of a tourist visa or a language course visa, you will not have the chance to convert it into a student visa.
- If you complete your study, you have the opportunity to extend your residence permit for a maximum period of three years, while you are responsible to seek employment in the field you studied.
- You are recommended to apply to a student visa, instead of a student application visa, since the last one also involves an approval of the university.
- Besides student visa, you will also need to earn a health insurance and prove your German language skills. You will need to begin to learn German before arriving to the country, especially since English is not widely spoken in all cities of Germany.
Conditions to apply for a residence permit
The residence permit is required after you arrived in Germany and you began to prepare for the new school year. In order to apply for a residence permit, you will need:
- Not to be a citizen of the EU/EAA countries and Switzerland and to intend to study more than ninety days.
- Additional documents, such as the confirmation of registration from the Residents Registration Office, confirmation of a health insurance coverage and student ID from the German university, among others.
- You apply for the residence permit after you found accommodation and you are required to submit your tenancy agreement.
Language requirements for my study in Germany
Many of the programmes are taught in German, so you will be required to prove your language abilities. You can do this by taking Test DaF or DSH.
Test DaF (German as a foreign language) is available in Germany and in other 90 countries throughout the world, so you may even take this exam in your home town. The DSH (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber) can be when you arrive in Germany and is available in many of the national universities.
If you applied for a programme in English, enrolled in a programme that lasts less than two semesters or if you took the Abitur school leaving exam at a German-speaking institution, you don't need to prove language skills.
Documents for a student visa in Germany
In order to become an international student in a German university, you will need to obtain one of the visas mentioned above. In your application, you must submit:
- A certificate that states your health insurance coverage, which is also necessary when you enrol in the university. In Germany public health insurances from the EU states, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Israel, Morocco, Macedonia, Lichtenstein, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia, Turkey and Tunisia are accepted .
- Proof of financial resources, for the amount of 8,000 EUR/year.
- Transcript of certificates that state your past academic background, achievements and qualifications
- In case you enrol in a programme taught in Germany: certificate of German language proficiency
- Completed application form
- A valid passport
- Two photographs
- Letter of admission from the university
- Declaration of authenticity for all documents.
Useful information about my student visa in Germany
Below you will find some useful addresses of embassies and consulates of Germany in some of the countries that are required to apply for a visa.
Financial tips for international students in Germany
Since German universities are tuition-free, you will only have to pay occasional charges such as the enrolment fee, social contribution to the student union, contributions to the student government or the semester transportation pass and other social funds. Usually, these fees ad up to an average amount of 300 EUR/semester.