Students at the International School of Management

With the decision to study abroad you have taken a brave and exciting step. Before you can start this adventure, you have to take care of necessary preparations. One of the most important steps is applying for a visa for international students so you can enter the country and stay there during the course of your studies.

Student Visa for Germany Requirements

To apply for a student visa for Germany, you should fulfill the following criteria:

1. You have graduated from school with a degree that allows you to study.

2. You can prove that you can cover your living expenses during your stay in Germany.

Currently, it is estimated that the living expenses while studying at a German university amount to at least 11.208 Euro. This amount has to be transferred to a blocked bank account before you enter Germany. The account is blocked because you can only withdraw money once you have entered the country. Other possibilities for proving that you can cover your living expenses can also be a bank guarantee, a stipend or a proof of assets by your parents. Another option is a declaration of commitment by a German resident in which the person states that he or she will pay for your living expenses. You can get more information on the accepted proofs of financial resources for a student visa for Germany at the German embassy in your country.

3. You have health insurance.

Don’t forget to check early enough whether the health insurance you have in your home country is valid in Germany. This is the case for member countries of the European Union as well as several other European countries, Island, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. Students from these countries can get a confirmation from German health insurance providers, stating that they are not required to insure themselves with a German insurance. You can get more information at the International Office of your chosen university. If you are from another country, you can easily register with a German health insurance of your choice. If you are under 30, the monthly fee is about 110 Euro. Please make sure to already bring your proof of health insurance cover to the visa interview.

4. Depending on the course of studies and the university you have chosen, you might need to provide proof of language proficiency.

5. Depending on the type of visa you apply for, you either need the confirmation of the university you are enrolled in or documents that prove that you are eligible to study at university.

When to apply for a student visa for Germany

The processing time for a student visa for Germany can vary depending on the number of applications that have to be processed and other factors. The standard processing time is around 6-12 weeks but can also amount to more than 4 months in some instances. Therefore, you should gather the necessary documents as soon as possible and also be quick to make an appointment at the embassy. 

German missions in different countries might also have different requirements for a student visa for Germany

Student Visa for Germany – step by step

You can apply for a student visa for Germany at a German mission of your home country like the German embassy or a Consulate General.
You can choose between two types of study visas. If you already have a place at a university, you can immediately apply for a student visa. An alternative is the student applicant visa. It allows you to enter Germany to seek a study place and is valid for three months. The visa can be prolonged by six additional months to achieve the requirements for university admission for example by doing a language course. In some cases, it may be advisable to already apply for a student applicant visa even if you haven’t yet secured your study place since the visa process might take some time.
After you have received your study place – for instance at one of the seven ISM campi – you can apply for a residence permit at the Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde). Please keep in mind: A tourist visa cannot be changed to a study visa. If you have entered with a tourist visa you would need to leave Germany and reapply for a student visa for Germany from your home country.

To apply for a visa to study at a German university, you need to go to the visa interview in person. Make sure to book an appointment at the German mission far enough in advance so that you will arrive in time for the start of your lectures.

You can find your diplomatic representations on the website of Germany’s Federal Foreign Office. There, you can also find out which documents you need for your application. Make sure (and double check) to bring all relevant documents to your appointment. Often two copies of the documents are needed and you should bring the original with you as well.
Necessary documents might include:

  • A valid passport
  • Copies of your passport and biometric passport photos
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof that you can cover your living expenses
  • Birth certificate
  • Depending on the type of visa: acceptance letter of your university or proof of correspondence with the university, possibly proof that you have already transferred study fees
  • Proof of university entrance qualification
  • Your CV
  • The application form itself
  • Possibly an APS certificate (for Indian students, Chinese students and Vietnamese students)
  • Possibly a language certificate
  • Possibly a health certificate

Indian students as well as students from China and Vietnam will need an APS certificate that confirms the authenticity of their academic documents. You can get more information on the specific requirements at the German mission of your home country. Make sure to request the certificate early so that you receive it in time for your visa interview.

How long is a German student visa valid?

The student visa for Germany is valid for three months. During this time, you have to register at the Citizen Center and/or the Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde) where you have to request a residence permit for the duration of your studies. After you have finished your degree, you can extend the residence permit to search for a job for up to 18 months.

Can a student visa dependent work in Germany?

The easy answer is: yes, you can work during your study time in Germany. However, how many hours you are allowed to work depends on your country of origin. Citizens from EU member states, from Island, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland can work for up to 20 hours per week. All other international students can work for 120 full or 240 half days in one year. This also applies to voluntary internships or unpaid work. There are exceptions to this rule, for example for the compulsory internship that is part of your studies as well as for work at the university. However, make sure to check the regulations or ask at your local Immigration Office in cases of doubt: You might be expelled if you do not comply with these regulations.
It is nearly impossible to finance your studies solely by working, especially since many student jobs only receive the minimum wage. Therefore, you should not rely on this source of income entirely. However, a student job can be a good opportunity to gain work experience and meet new people.

Tip: Speaking German can be a big advantage on the German job market. It might even be required for student jobs and is an even bigger plus for internships or working student opportunities that are in your field of study.

At the International School of Management, we support you during your application and the visa process. Find out more about our English-language study programs here.

Pictures: International School of Management, Canva

Lara Tautz

Lara Tautz

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