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Coming to Germany for studies – How to get the visa and residence permit

How to get the visa and residence permit when coming to study in Germany
How to get the visa and residence permit when coming to study in Germany

Study in Germany. German student visa and residence permit. None-EU citizens who would like to come to Germany for studies must apply for study visa at the German embassy in their countries. Here’s how to go about acquiring your German student visa and residence permit:

A student residence permit can be extended for the duration of the program, as long as your studies progress normally.

You have to apply for a student residence permit after you enter Germany. This means you also need to obtain a student visa from the German embassy or consulate in your home country before you are allowed to travel to Germany. However, certain nationalities (USA, Australia, Japan, Canada, etc.) are exempt from the entry visa.

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) states that one can only apply for this visa after admission to a state or state-approved university.

Types of German Residence Permits for Studying:

The main reasons you can get a German student residence permit are:

  1. Residence permit to attend university. If you have been accepted into a German university and you can immediately begin classes after entering the country. (E.g all your degrees are recognised and you speak the required language adequately).
  2. Residence permit to attend a Studienkolleg (preparatory college). If your previous degrees are not recognised in Germany, you have to attend preparatory college and pass a test called the Feststellungsprüfung. After this, you can enrol in your university of choice.
  3. Residence permit to attend a language course. This type of residence permit can be issued for a maximum of one year and allows you to complete an intensive German language course if it is needed for your studies.

How to Apply for a German Residence Permit for Studies?

You have to apply for your student residence permit after you enter Germany. The process is as follows:

  1. Find the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Authority) in your area.
  2. Register your address.
  3. Obtain health insurance.
  4. Prepare your documents.
  5. Submit the application to the Ausländerbehörde.
  6. Pick up your student residence permit card.

Remember: Before you can travel to Germany and apply for a student permit, you need a student visa from the German Embassy (unless you are visa-exempt).

A very important requirement for this visa is proof that you have the means to support yourself during your studies.

Cost of German Student Residence Permit

The cost for a German student permit is:

First issuance€110
Permit extension€100
If you have a scholarshipFree of charge
If you are a Turkish national up to 24 years of age€22.80
If you are a Turkish national over 24 years of age€37

Duration of German Student Residence Permits

Your student residence permit is valid for one to two years. You can extend it, provided that your studies are on the right track and you will finish during the standard timeframe. To extend your German student permit, you need a confirmation letter from your school that your studies are progressing regularly.

You have to submit the request to extend your student permit at the Ausländerbehörde before your current permit expires.

Working Rights With a Student Residence Permit in Germany

As an international student in Germany, you can work part-time (20 hours per week) during the semester and full-time (40 hours per week) during breaks. This means that during a year, you can work a maximum of 120 full days or 240 half-days without requesting approval from the German Employment Agency.

However, there are exceptions to the 120-day rule for certain working categories, such as student assistants or mandatory internships.

Here are your working options if you have a student residence permit in Germany:

Part-Time Job

You can take a part-time job in Germany. Your job should ideally be related to your course of study, but this is not mandatory. You can also work at local restaurants or cafes, as a babysitter, at a shop, etc.

You can only work 20 hours per week or 120 full days per year.


If you have to complete an internship as part of your study course, then the hours you work during the internship do not count towards the 120-day rule. If you are applying for an internship at your own will, then you are allowed to work only part-time.

Student Assistant

The 120-day rule does not apply if you find work as a student assistant at your university. But remember that you still have to inform the Ausländerbehörde that you have been offered a student assistant job and you want to work more hours.

Freelancing and Self-Employment

As an international student, you are not allowed to do freelance work or take up self-employment without requesting approval from the German Immigration Authority and Employment Authority.

If you meet the requirements, then you can request to switch to a German freelancer visa before finishing your studies. The Ausländerbehörde and Employment Agency will decide whether to grant you your request.

Read more information on German Laws and legislation here: Legal News and Guides – Germany

After Graduating

After graduating, you have two options if you want to remain in Germany once your student residence permit expires:

  • Apply for a residence permit for job seekers – if you do not have a job offer.
  • Apply for a residence permit for working – if you have a job offer.

Switching to a Job-Seeker Residence Permit

After you graduate (but before your student residence permit expires) you can apply for a residence permit as a job seeker. This permit allows you to stay in Germany for another six months after graduation, during which time you can look for employment.

If you find a suitable job and meet all the requirements, you can convert it into a work permit and stay in Germany indefinitely.

Switching to a Work Residence Permit

If you have a job offer as soon as you graduate, then you can simply switch your student permit into a work permit. The German residence permit for employment is issued for two years, with the possibility of extension (as long as you still have a job).

If you meet the requirements set by the immigration authorities, then you can also apply for a residence permit and work as a freelancer in Germany.

Graduates of German universities have a facilitated path to the settlement permit.

READ ALSO: How to apply for a settlement permit in Germany

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3 important things you need to have to gain admission easily as a student in Germany

Settlement Permit for International Students in Germany

As a graduate of a German university, you become eligible for settlement after only two years of working in Germany. Eight years after that, you also become eligible for German citizenship.

The German settlement permit allows you to:

  • live in Germany indefinitely without applying for extensions.
  • change employers or professions.
  • have access to state social security and benefits.
  • move freely in the EU/EEA.

In contrast, other international workers (who do not have a German degree) have to work in Germany for at least five years to become settled residents.

Which are German Visa Types for Study Purposes?

There are three types of visas meant for people intending to pursue educational activities in Germany:

  1. Language Course Visa (Visa for Language Learning) – for educational activities lasting from 3 months up to 1 year to participate in short German language courses.
  2. Student Applicant Visa (Visum Zur Studienbewerbung) – if you want to study in Germany, but are still trying to find the right program or you still haven’t got the confirmation letter from your University
  3. Student Visa (Visum Zu Studienzwecken) – if you have already been accepted to a German university.

Where and How to Apply for a Germany Study Visa?

As we stated earlier, the place where you should apply for your visa is the German Embassy or Consulate in your country.

First, you need to schedule an appointment for a visa interview. You should offer your visa application documents on the day of the interview. Additionally, you will need to respond to the interview questions that the consular officer prepares to examine you closely as a potential visa candidate.

Important Things To Know as a German Visa applicant and/or Holder

  • Additional documents can be required by the visa officer upon the visa interview
  • Appear in person in the visa interview
  • Be cautious about your passport validity- it needs to be valid for your entire period of stay, including the expected extended period
  • Bear in mind that an incomplete visa application can be refused
  • Do not stick your photographs in the visa application form
  • Don’t take anyone with you to the Embassy or Consulate during a visa interview
  • Every applicant is authorised to take legal actions against the embassy or consulate decision on her/his visa application
  • Getting your Visa For Study Purposes is important, instead of a Tourist Visa -because it gives you the opportunity to get a residence permit once in Germany REMEMBER that a Tourist Visa cannot be extended further while in Germany, in case you need to stay longer!
  • If the applicant is considered to represent a risk for the security and public order of the Schengen Area the visa will be rejected
  • In case of visa rejection, the applicant gets informed about the main reason for a rejection
  • Make sure for your trip to Germany to be scheduled early enough so you will have the needed time in a disposition to enrol in university
  • Original documents can be required upon arrival at the airport
  • Germany study visa is not automatically given – so you have to wait for up to 4 MONTHS to get a response from the Embassy or Consulate and there is no guarantee you will be granted a visa
  • The application form can be downloaded freely on the website of the Embassy or Consulate in your country
  • The passport remains at the Embassy / Consulate during the entire process of visa proceeding
  • Visa appointments should be made only through the online system (not by phone, e-mail, fax or in-person)
  • Visa Fee will not be reimbursed in case of visa refusal

What is the Germany Student Visa Fee?

The fee for a German student visa application is 75,- EUR.

Student applicants have to pay the visa fees by bank transfer. Cheques or credit cards are not accepted. The money order must be in the name of the Embassy/Consulate in your home country and not older than two months.

Please be aware that you will not get reimbursed the visa fee if your application for a student visa gets rejected.

How long does it take for a German student visa to process?

The processing time for a Germany long-stay study visa may take from 6-12 weeks from the application day. While Germany short-stay study visas are usually decided within 15-30 days by the German missions abroad.