Last Updated: May 01, 2021
Germany Student Visa
Germany offers good quality education to international students with globally ranked universities that offer various courses, degrees, and scholarships, with a promise of high employability across the globe. Germany is also known for its rich culture and affordable cost of living and education. It is a popular destination for international students.
Choosing a Course
Universities in Germany offer a lot of courses and degrees. The students can choose from the following options:
- Foundation Courses
- Study Programs
- German language courses
- Bachelor's Degree
- Master's Degree
- PhD Degree
Types of Student Visas for International Students and their Validity
Non- EU or non- EEA students need to apply for one of the following types of German student visa depending upon the course selected by them:
- Student Visa/National Visa: It is the most popular type of German student visa for students who have been accepted by a German university. It is valid for the first 3 months and the student will have to apply for the Residence Permit before the expiration of the Student Visa to be able to stay for a period of over 3 months.
- German Student Applicant Visa: This visa is a short-term visa for students who have not yet been granted admission to a German university. This visa gives the students a chance to visit university campuses in person and make a better judgment. The visa is only valid for 3 months but upon being accepted to a German university, the student can extend their visa by 6 months.
- German Language Course Visa: This visa is available to international students who are looking to study a German language course from Germany. The validity of this visa is up to 1 year.
- Student Schengen Visa: This is a less popular approach for international students. This visa is only valid for 3 months and cannot be extended. This visa might be a good option for international students looking to take short-term language/art courses.
It is very important to apply for the right type of visa. In case the applicant tries to study while on a tourist visa, they will be required to leave the country as soon as their visa expires. Also, visa conversion is not a possibility while in Germany.
Who Needs to Apply for the German Student Visa?
All non-EU and non-EEA students have to apply for a German student visa. Students from EU/EEA are exempted from applying for the German Student Visa.
Cost of German Visas
The cost of applying for a German visa depends upon the type of visa being applied to. The cost can vary anywhere from 60 euros to 80 euros. While Schengen Visa costs 80 euros, a German Student Visa costs 75 euros.
The visa fee is non-refundable and the applicant will not get their money back if they are denied the visa.
Steps to Applying for a German Student Visa
There are certain prerequisites to applying for a German Student Visa and it is important that they be fulfilled before moving forward with the visa process. Below are the general steps to be followed while applying for a German visa for studying:
Applying to a German University
An international student needs to first apply for admission to a German university of their choice. Once the student receives the acceptance letter allowing them to study at a German university, they can move forward with their application process. This is the most tedious part of the application process and the most time-taking one.
German language proficiency
German is a widely spoken language in the country. The international student is expected to have at least basic German language knowledge to be able to stay in Germany. English is not a popular language in Germany, unlike many other countries. There are German proficiency tests that the student is required to take to prove their fluency in the German language. They can take either of the following certificates:
- Goethe Institute German Language Diploma (GDS)
- KCSE Certificate
- DSD Certificate
Financial resources to cover up the costs
An international student needs to show that they have adequate financial support to be able to sustain them for the duration of their course. The proof has to be included with the visa application. The best way to do this is to have a blocked bank account, although there are other ways to show the proof of funds by including the income documents of a family member. Students need to show that they have at least around 10,500 euros in their blocked account to cover their expenses for the first year.
Applying for health insurance
It is mandatory for every individual in Germany to have health coverage - be it a German citizen, student, or visitor. That being said, an international student needs to get health insurance in Germany. They can choose between public health insurance and private health insurance based upon eligibility. The coverage should be good for the duration of the course. One of the most popular private health insurance plan in Germany is EDUCARE24 by the health insurance company DR- WALTER.
English language proficiency
Although German is the widely used language in Germany, most of the degree courses are offered in English which makes it important for the students to prove their proficiency in English. This can be done by taking any of the popular English proficiency tests like TOEFL, IELTS, or Cambridge English Proficiency test.
Applying for the German Visa
After completing the above steps and collecting the required documents mentioned below, non-EU and non-EEA international students can apply for a German student visa by visiting their local German embassy or consulate. The time and specific requirements can be checked on their specific website. The visa application, which can be obtained from the local embassy's website, needs to be filled in it's entirety and submitted with all the documents at the time of the interview.
The international students are encouraged to apply for the visa at least 3 months before their intended arrival in Germany because of the time taken to process the applications.
Documents Required to Apply for German Student Visa
- Visa application form - filled out in entirety and signed
- A valid passport
- 2 copies of the passport - A4 size. In case the applicant has an expired passport, that needs to be submitted along with the current valid passport
- Two recent biometric portrait photographs, with a neutral gray color as the background and 80% face area
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate/child certificate - if applicable
- Copies of any previous German visas - if applicable
- Copy of university acceptance letter confirming the course admission or conditional admission letter
- Previous academic qualifications - translated if needed which includes original school leaving certificate and college degrees (if applying for graduate courses)
- Curriculum vitae mentioning previous internships or work experiences
- Proof of financial resources
- Proof of health insurance coverage
- German Higher Education Entrance Qualification or HZB requirements fulfilled based upon the course being enrolled in
- Motivational letter
- Proof of German language proficiency
- Proof of English language proficiency
- Proof of payment of visa application fee
Steps to be Taken to Extend the Stay in Germany
The Germany Student Visa is valid only for 3 months. To stay in Germany for more than the allotted 3 months, the international student has to apply for a Residence Permit
. The international student cannot stay beyond the expiry of the Student Visa. The Residence Permit should be obtained by the student before the Student Visa expires. Steps needed to receive a residence permit in Germany:
- Looking for permanent accommodation in Germany Upon arrival in Germany, the international student has to find a permanent residence and obtain proof of the same. It can be an apartment lease or a flatshare, with the student's name on the lease.
- Open a German bank account The international student also has to open a bank account in Germany and transfer the necessary funds there. The bank statement is used as proof of financial stability in many places.
- Registering the address at the Resident's Registration Office The next step is to obtain the Confirmation of Registration upon registering with the local Resident's Office. This process will have to be repeated in case the student moves to different accommodation.
- Enroll at the Student's Affairs Office The student then has to enroll in the university they had chosen and start their program to obtain an enrollment certificate. They will be required to pay their fee at this point. This enrolment is done at the individual university's Student's Affairs Office.
- Apply for Temporary Residence Permit The student can then finally apply at the Foreigner's Authority to receive their Temporary Residence Permit which is usually valid for the duration of the course.
- Extension of the Residence Permit In case the student is unable to complete their course before the expiration of the residence permit, they will need to apply for an extension of the Residence Permit. The student has to get the extension approved before the expiration of the current Residence Permit.
Working While Studying in Germany
There are no work restrictions on the students from EU/EEA but non-EU and non-EEA students have a limit on the number of hours they can work. They cannot work more than 120 full days or 240 half days in a year.
After completion of the course, international students can choose to stay and work in Germany by applying for a work permit. They will have to apply to Federal Employment Agency and the Foreigners' Authority to get a work visa which is usually valid for 3 years.
Some Things to Remember
- The international students have to make sure that they have taken all the prerequisite courses as required by the German university they are choosing to study in.
- All important documents listed in the checklist have to be produced at the time of visa interview, else the applicant can be denied a visa.
- The visa application process needs to be started at least 3 months before the start of the course.
- Passports with spill marks, torn pages, burnt pages, or soiled pages will be rejected.
- The students need to re-enroll themselves in their college at the beginning of each new semester, otherwise, they will be removed from the student register.
- Time taken to process a German Student Visa can be anywhere from 1-3 months, though other short-term visas are processed much quicker, in a matter of couple weeks at the most.
- During the visa interview, there is a small round of discussion in the German language to check for German proficiency.
- In case the applicant is denied a visa, they will be given a reason for denial.