International students often need a visa to travel to Germany. This depends on the country of origin and how long you want to stay.
International students looking to study in Germany will generally need a visa. This excludes students from the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. These students only require a valid ID card or comparable identification to travel to Germany. Students from these countries can register at the city's registry office as soon as they have found an apartment. This is where they will receive a residence permit for study purposes.
There are also a number of countries for which students can obtain their necessary residence permit for study purposes after their arrival. These include Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States of America. It also includes the following countries, provided that the student does not intend to work in Germany before or after completing their studies: Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino.
Visa process for international students
International students from other countries generally need to apply for a visa before arrival. Please contact the German embassy in your home country and apply for a student visa or an applicant visa. Anyone with written approval for preparatory study measures or a university place from a university can apply for a student visa. Anyone who is still waiting on the notice of admission or who has to sit an entrance examination will need to apply for an applicant visa. Once you arrive in Germany, you will need to submit your visa to the foreigners' authority at the study location in order to convert this to a residence permit for study purposes.
It often takes several months for a visa to be issued. It is therefore important to apply for an applicant visa as soon as possible so that you can arrive before your course commences. You should not wait to receive confirmation of a university place, as the notice of admission arrives very late in Germany. It is preferable to apply for an applicant visa with the university's confirmation of application and then convert it to a residence permit for study purposes in Germany.
Documents required for a visa application
The best course of action is to find information on the Federal Foreign Office's website or directly from the German embassy in your home country; but, in general, you will need the following documents:
- a valid passport
- the confirmation of application from the university (applicant visa) or the notice of admission from the university (student visa)
- proof of adequate funds for living expenses (proof of financial resources)
- health insurance coverage
Proof of financial resources
Your proof of financial resources verifies that you can pay for your period of study. At least the living expenses for your first year in Germany must be fully financed. In general, about 8,640 euros of income or assets are required for the first year, or 720 euros per month. But evidence of higher amounts may also be requested. The German embassy in your home country will provide more information on the proof that needs to be provided. In principle, the following types of proof are possible:
- proof of parents' income and assets
- the Foreigners' Registration Offices receives confirmation that someone whose place of residence is in Germany commits to assume the costs for you
- a security sum on a blocked account
- scholarship from a recognised scholarship foundation
- funding in accordance with the German Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz (BAföG - Federal Education and Training Assistance Act).
The "Information on the Statutory Frameworks applicable to Entry and Residence by Foreign Students, Academics and Scientists" leaflet also provides extensive information.