If you have secured admission to school at a university in Germany, you will need to find out whether you are required to apply for a German student visa. Many students are not required to obtain a student visa to study in Germany but are required to obtain a residence permit. If you do require a visa, ensure you apply as early as possible, as the process may take up to a few months.
How to Apply for a German Student Visa
If you require a student visa to study in Germany, you should apply as soon as you can, and at least three months prior to your move to the nation. To do this, you’ll need to get in touch with the local German embassy or consulate in your home nation.
The documents you typically need are:
- Completed application form
- Valid passport
- Two photographs
- Letter showing you have been granted admission by a German university
- Transcript of academic record
- Certificate of German language proficiency or evidence that you plan on attending a language program in Germany (if studying in German)
- Proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself while living in Germany (€8,700 per year, which is roughly ~US$10,250)
- Certificate showing you’ve purchased health insurance
- Declaration of authenticity of documents submitted
Depending on the embassy or consulate, you may also be required to show evidence that you don’t have a criminal record. One of the ways in which you can demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to school in Germany is by making a security payment into a blocked account – this means you cannot take out the money until after you get to Germany.
If you intend to study in Germany for more than 90 days you should put in for a National Visa for the intent of study instead of a Schengen Visa, which will only permit you to stay in Germany for three months.
In addition to your student visa, you will also be required to apply for a residence permit on arrival.
How to Apply for a Residence Permit
Once in Germany, you will have to enroll with the Alien Registration Office (Bürgeramt or Einwohnermeldeamt) within two weeks of arrival. Here, you should apply for a residence permit for study purposes. The credentials you’ll need are similar to those required for the visa:
- Evidence of valid private or public health insurance
- Certificate of enrolment from your university
- Proof of sufficient finances
- Valid passport
- Current visa, if you have one
- Certificate of health (if applicable)
- Your tenancy agreement (if applicable)
- Biometric passport photos (if applicable)
- Residence permit fee
Although you will have been asked for evidence of language proficiency as part of your university application process, you may be required to provide this information again so as to acquire your residence permit. For programs taught in German, foreign students need to provide a TestDaf or DSH score, or, for English-taught courses, you’ll be required to provide a TOEFL or IELTS score.
This residence permit is usable for two years, and, if required, should be renewed before it expires. Residence permits cost €100 (~US$120) with a fee of around €96 (~US$115) for every extension.
Students from the EU/EEA (and also Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein) do not require a residence permit but have to register with the local Einwohnermeldeamt or Bürgeramt (registration body) within a week of their arrival. You will need your registration paper from your university for this. EU students also are required to demonstrate they have enough money (€8,700 each year), statutory health insurance if under 30, and proficiency in their program’s language of instruction. Certain nations have bilateral agreements with Germany, which means insurance policies in the candidate’s home nation will be applicable in Germany.
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