Germany is constantly rising in popularity among international students, especially since the country abolished tuition fees for higher education. Also, language barriers are coming down, as over 1,300 Masters in Germany are taught in English, specifically designed for international students.
If you decided to study abroad in Germany and come from an EU/EEA country, good news! You won’t need a German student visa.
If you're from a non-EU/EEA country and you want to study a long-term degree you should read further to get a list of main steps you need to take in order to get your German student visa.
1. Apply to a German university and get your acceptance letter
If you’re still not sure where you want to study in Germany, you will have to decide before you can start your student visa application process. After being accepted at a German university, you’ll get an acceptance letter required for the visa application.
Here are a few universities we recommend in Germany:
- RWTH Aachen University
- IU International University of Applied Sciences
- University of Bonn
- Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
- University of Cologne
2. Find out what type of visa you need
There are three main types of student visas for 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 to spend your stay in the country, then this visa is the right one for you.
A student applicant visa is usually issued in several months and grants you a stay of three months with the optional extension of up to six months.
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. After the initial 3 months, you need to apply for a residence permit to continue your studies. The student visa is the most popular type of visa in Germany.
Language Course Visa
If you want to come to Germany for German language courses. This type of visa is valid for a maximum of 1 year.
3. When and where to apply for the German student visa?
Apply for a visa at the German embassy or consulate in your country. Check the available dates on the website of the German embassy in your home country and schedule an appointment for the visa interview.
You are advised to apply for a student visa at least three months before your arrival in 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, then returned to the embassy or consulate in your country.
Tips about my visa application:
- 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.
- In addition to the student visa, you will also have to get health insurance and prove your German language skills. You will need start learning German before arriving in the country, especially knowing that English is not widely spoken in all German cities.
4. Language requirements for studying in Germany
If you apply to a long-term visa, you need to have at least basic German skills, so you will be required to provide the results for one of the following tests (the results should not be older than 4 years):
- A1 certificate from the Goethe Institute
- KCSE certificate from KNEC
This requirement applies even if you enrol for an English-taught degree. The visa interview at the German embassy will also include a discussion in German, so you will have to prove that you understand and can communicate using basic, conversational expressions in German.
5. Documents required for a student visa in Germany
In order to become an international student at a German university, you will need to obtain one of the visas mentioned above. For your application, you must submit:
- A certificate that states your health insurance coverage, which is also necessary when you enrol at the university (in Germany, public health insurances from the EU/EEA states, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Israel, Morocco, Macedonia, Lichtenstein, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Serbia, Turkey and Tunisia are accepted) Learn more about international student insurance for students studying in Germany.
- Proof of financial resources to support your studies (around 10,236 EUR per year)
- Transcript of certificates that state your past academic background, achievements and qualifications
- In case you enrol in a programme taught in German: certificate of German language proficiency
- Filled-in application form
- A valid passport
- Application fee (around 60 EUR)
- Two photographs
- Letter of admission from the university
- Declaration of authenticity for all documents
This list is by no means exhaustive. Others documents might be required depending on your nationality and the type of visa for which you apply.
6. Apply for a work permit in Germany
EU and EEA students can work in Germany without any restriction or time limit. Non-EU/EEA students are allowed to work 120 full days or 240 half days during one year. This means 20 hours per week during a semester.
However, if they want to exceed this time limit, they should apply at the "Agentur für Arbeit" (Federal Employment Agency) and the foreigners' authority for a work permit.
7. Conditions to apply for a German residence permit
The residence permit is required after you arrive in Germany. EU/EEA and Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein citizens don't need a residence permit. If you come from a different country and plan to study in Germany for more than 90 days, you have to apply for a residence permit.
These are some of the documents required for a German residence permit:
- Confirmation of registration from the Residents’ Registration Office
- Confirmation of health insurance coverage
- Student ID from the German university
Find more up-to-date information about the German student visa on the official German visa website.