The academic year in Germany (like most other countries) is divided into two semesters: the winter semester, which begins in September/October, and the summer semester, which starts in March/April. When you join a degree programme, you usually have to start in the winter semester, as only a few programmes start in the summer semester. To begin in the winter semester, in principle, you must apply by 31 May of the same year. If you have graduated from high school in the same year, the application period usually extends until 15 July. If you are applying for the summer semester, you have to send your application before 15 January.
For your application, you must present at least a certified copy of your university entrance qualification and your German language certificates. Some colleges and degree programmes also require further qualifications, such as an internship certificate. To learn more about the requirements of your desired programme, contact the International Office or the Student Registration Office ("Studierendensekretariat") of your chosen university.
If you wish to apply for a free admission or locally restricted study programme, you must, in principle, apply directly to the university. Many universities, however, have outsourced the application process to the organisation uni-assist. You can visit the International Office or the Student Registration Office ("Studierendensekretariat") of your desired university or check their website to see whether the university receives your application or you need to apply via uni-assist. In principle, the Uni-assist collects your documents, assesses your abroad-obtained certificates and informs the university about your application. You usually need to pay for their service, but refugees can get exempt from the costs. To learn more visit the uni-assist website.
If you would like to apply for a restricted-admission programme in Germany, you must submit your application to the Foundation for University Admission ("Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung" or SfH).
Please note: After the confirmation by the university, you need to enrol ("Immatrikulieren"). If you miss the enrollment deadline, your place will be awarded to another candidate. You can register either per mail or in person in the Student Registration Office ("Studierendensekretariat") of the university. The admission letter you receive will specify how you should enrol. In the same letter, you can also find a list of documents that you need to present to register. These usually include your university entrance qualification, your ID card, a health insurance certificate and your German proficiency certificates.