International students generally require a visa to study in Germany. However, whether you need a visa to study in Germany or not depends on your country of origin and the duration of your stay.
Students belonging to the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland do not require any visa in order to study in Germany. They are only required to register at the local city’s registry office once they have found a suitable residence and obtained the contract from their landlord. Students belonging to all other countries must obtain a visa in order to be able to start a study career in Germany.
Students with the following countries of origin can obtain their necessary residence permit for the purpose of studying after their arrival to Germany: Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States of America. Students coming from Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino also do not require a visa to come to Germany for studying; however, this is contingent on the condition that these students do not intend on working in Germany before or after the completion of studies.
Visa process for international students
International students willing to study in Germany generally require a visa before arrival. You are requested to contact the German embassy in your home country and apply for student visa or applicant visa based on your case. The type of visa you need depends on whether you have received your letter of admission from a German university.
There are two types of visa for studying in Germany:
1. Student applicant visa (Studienbewerbervisum)
If a student has not received a letter of admission from a university or foundation course, he should apply for a student applicant visa.
This three-month visa allows the student to meet the requirements for admission to a German university. However, if he finds that three months is not enough, he can extend his visa to a maximum of six months. In the meantime, if the student is admitted to a university or foundation course within this period, he can then apply for a student visa.
2. Student visa (Studentenvisum)
If the student has already received a notification of admission to university or a foundation course in Germany, he is required to apply for a student visa. Student visas are usually valid for three months. Within these three months, the student has to apply for an extended residence permit at the Alien Registration Office.
After arrival to Germany, students need to visit the foreigners’ authority in their respective city of residence in order to convert their visa to a residence permit for the purpose of study. Additional information on how to obtain a residence permit in Germany for the purpose of studying is available here.
Documents required for a visa application
It is advisable to directly refer to the German embassy in your home country for information on the visa application documents. However, the following documents are generally required:
- A valid passport
- Visa application form
- Documentation of your school, college and academic degrees and employment history (if applicable)
- The admission letter from the university (student visa) or the confirmation of application from the university (applicant visa)
- Proof of funds to finance your studies
- Health insurance coverage
- Passport photos
Proof of Funds
The Proof of funds is required in order to evaluate the students’ ability to finance their studies in Germany. The students are expected to be able to at least cover fully their living expenses for the first year. This means that students are required to block 8,040 euros for the first year of studies, or 670 euros per month. Refer to the German embassy in your home country for more details on the proof of funding that needs to be presented. The following types of proof are generally accepted by the embassy:
- Proof of parents’ income and assets
- A formal obligation (declaration by liability) by a sponsor residing in Germany and with confirmed sufficient financial means
- A security deposit on a blocked account
- Scholarship from a recognized scholarship fund