How to Apply for a German Student Visa

Do you plan to study or conduct academic research in Germany? Find out if a German student visa is necessary and how to obtain one.

How to Apply for a German Student Visa
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The number of foreign people choosing Germany for their studies abroad is increasingly growing each year. If you’ve accepted a place in a program in Germany as an international student, then you’ll need to ensure you have the correct visa. A German Student Visa is necessary for many international students. Most international students will likely need to get a German student visa at a German consulate in their country before they can come to Germany to study.

However, many students do not need a student visa to study in Germany instead, just need a residence permit. Whether you need these documents depends on which country you are from and how long you intend to stay. If you have gained admission to study at a university in Germany, you will need to find out whether you need to apply for a German student visa. If you do need a visa, be sure to apply as early as possible, as the process may take a few months.

Studying in German

Germany is attracting students from all corners of the world to its excellent universities. The country 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. Germany is a place to be when it comes to the quality of higher education, research infrastructure, teaching methodology, low-cost studies, and career perspective. That is why many internationals continue to believe that Germany is the best place for pursuing their higher education further.

Moreover, with the aim of offering free education in Germany through award-winning faculty, many German universities have inscribed their name on the list like that QS, Times Higher Education, etc. You can also explore the DAAD scholarship to study in a country that is counted among the best education system in the world.

However, not every foreign person is able to pursue such a dream, right away. This is because several nationalities are NOT allowed to enter and stay in the territory of Germany without enjoying the appropriate German Visa. Just like any other country, Germany also has its own requirements when it comes to deciding who enters the country. Additionally, depending on where you come from, you may need a student visa in order to enter Germany and pursue your qualification.

So, If you are planning to study in Germany then here is a blog that will clarify the process of obtaining a German study visa. In this article, we will guide you through the German student visa requirements as well as the application process, if you’re an international student wishing to be, or already enrolled in a German university. You can also check out our previous article on how to study in Germany as an international student.

What is a German Student Visa?

A German Student Visa is a visa needed is the authorizing official document required to permit a non-German national to enter and stay in the territory of Germany for the purpose of studying, in a specific intended period. It is necessary for all international students who wish to study in Germany, with the exception of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), and Swiss nationals who can do so without a visa.

The visa grants you the right to remain in Germany for the duration of your course. A German Student Visa is not particularly costly, but it does require you to jump some bureaucratic hurdles before it will be granted. It could also require a visit to your German consulate. Moreover, it’s important to understand that there are three types of student visas:

  • The main German National Student Visa (Visum Zur Studienzwecken) is for those who have already been accepted onto a university course
  • Language Course Visa (Visa for Language Learning) for those accepted onto a language preparatory course that lasts between three months and one year
  • Student Applicant Visa (Visum Zur Studienbewerbung), which is for those who haven’t chosen their course yet or who are still awaiting confirmation of acceptance.

However, when you want to travel to Germany for study purposes, you have to apply for the appropriate German visa that is related to the purpose of your travel. These three types of visas are meant for people intending to pursue the aforementioned educational activities.

Who Needs a Student Visa in Germany?

Not everyone needs a visa to study in Germany. Here's an overview of the countries that need a student visa in Germany and those that don't.

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Applicants within the European Union (including Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein):

EU/EFTA citizens don’t need a visa to study in Germany. In fact, they can enter the country with a valid passport or ID card and only need to register with their local residents’ registration office

Applicants from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan, and South Korea:

If you are from any of these countries you can enter Germany without a visa and stay for up to three months. This means you won’t need a visa for short courses or training that lasts for less than three months, for example, language courses. However, you will need to get a residence permit if they stay in Germany for longer than three months.

Applicants from Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, San Marino, or Taiwan:

If you are from any of these countries, you can enter to study in Germany without a visa as long as you don’t intend to subsequently work in the country. You will only need a German student visa if you plan to work before or after your degree. However, in some cases, you may work part-time to support your studies. In this case, you should check with the German embassy or consulate in your country to find out the conditions.

For all other citizens, obtaining a German student visa will be required before traveling to Germany to study. You check individual country requirements on the Federal Foreign Office website.

German Student Visa Application Process

Furthermore, here's the application process to get a German student visa.

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.

Find out what type of visa you need

There are three main types of student visas for Germany:

  • German National Student Visa: If you have been accepted to a German degree program or a foundation course, you can enter Germany through a 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
  • Student Applicant Visa: This is a type of visa available to some prospective students that can be used to travel to Germany whilst searching for a university program to enroll in. It provides you with a visa for a three-month stay whilst going through the admissions process and can be extended if required. 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 receive confirmation of admission you can then convert the applicant visa into a student visa or residence permit.

  • 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.

Apply for a German Student Visa

As soon as you receive the acceptance letter from the university, you should begin the process of applying for a German Study Visa. Apply for a visa at the German embassy or consulate in your country. Here is a step-by-step application process you need to follow to get a visa issued:

  • Receive a letter of confirmation from a German higher education institution
  • Fill in an online or paper application form with your personal information (this depends on the country you are applying from) and gather the required documentation, including proof of finances and English proficiency.
  • Visit the German Embassy or Consulate in your home country, submit the applications, and set up a visa appointment if necessary at your local embassy or consulate.
  • Once your appointment is fixed, the embassy will directly call you for an interview. Attend your interview and present the required documents and will be required to prove your financial stability, academic record, nationality, etc to meet the eligibility for the student visa.
  • Receive a decision on your visa. Then, register at a registration office before your visa expires.

It is important to note that the processing time for the visa is around 25 days and can take a little longer based on various parameters. You are advised to apply for a student visa at least three months before your arrival in Germany.

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German Student Visa Requirements

In order to become an international student at a German university, you will need to obtain one of the visas mentioned above. When applying for a visa to study in Germany, you may need to have the following documentation ready to upload or show at your visa interview:

  • Completed application forms
  • Proof of English proficiency
  • University letter of confirmation
  • Academic records and transcripts
  • Passport / ID
  • Any previous Germany permits and visas if relevant
  • Blocked bank account with sufficient funds to support yourself

Moreover, 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.

Germany student visa work permit

A work permit is not required in addition to a student visa. Students are permitted to work part-time in Germany on their student visa or residence permit as long as it does not exceed 120 days or 240 half days a year. EU and EEA students can work in Germany without any restrictions or time limits. 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.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the process of applying for a student visa to study in Germany can be lengthy, so hearing that your application was rejected is especially disheartening. The rejection may have simply been caused by a mistake, or a missing document, so simply reapply, ensuring you correct the error. Any additional applications you make will require an additional fee.

You should write an appeal letter if you don't think the reason for your rejection is fair or valid. Ask your local German Consulate to find out to who to address your letter. Make sure you clearly outline why you think your application should be accepted, but there are no guarantees your appeal will be successful.

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