How can I come to Germany to study?
Germany has many outstanding colleges and universities and numerous international students. To come to Germany to study, you will need a corresponding residence permit, i.e., a "residence permit for the purpose of studying" ("Aufenthaltserlaubnis zum Zweck des Studiums") regulated in Section 16b of the Residence Act. If you come from a so-called "third countries", however, you first need to apply for a "Visa for the purpose of studying". A student visa allows you to enter Germany legally and start your studies.
What do I need to know?
You can apply for a residence permit when a German university, higher education institution ("Hochschule") or a "Studienkolleg" or another preparatory programme (e.g. a compulsory language course) admits you as a student.
There is also the option of obtaining a residence permit for applying to a university.
If you require a visa to enter Germany, you must apply for it at the German Embassy or Consulate in your home country (or a neighbouring country) and present the required documents there.
Please note that it may take several months to process your visa application.
If you do not require a visa to enter Germany, please register with the Immigration Office at your new place of residence upon arrival and present the necessary documents there.
Whether you need a visa depends on your country of origin. On auswaertiges-amt.de, you will find a list of countries the citizens of which require an entry visa for Germany.
In our chapter "National Visa", you will find a list of all documents that third-country nationals need for a national visa.
For a student visa, you also need the following documents:
Proof of admission from a German university or college (certificate of enrollment) OR a university entrance qualification if you only want to apply for a visa as a university applicant. A university entrance qualification is a school-leaving certificate with which you can study at a university in your home country.
Proof showing your livelihood is secure- you can prove it, e.g., by depositing funds into a blocked account. There must be at least 10,332 € per year in the blocked account. If you do not have enough money yourself, a third person can make a so-called declaration of commitment for you. You can learn more in our chapter "Declaration of commitment for a national visa".
Health insurance coverage
Proof of your German language skills, unless your language skills have already been checked by the university or preparatory college. In principle, you need at least B2.
After entering the country, you must visit the Immigration Office at your new place of residence within three months and apply for a residence permit there. To do so, you must (again) submit the documents mentioned above as well as, in principle, a police registration certificate and a rental agreement. The authorities will check your papers and then decide whether you must be issued a residence permit.
A residence permit for the purpose of studying is usually issued for one to two years. If you cannot finish your studies within this period, your residence permit will often be extended. During your studies, you can work a total of 120 full days per year.
A residence permit for student applicants is issued for nine months. During this time you are not allowed to work and have to find a place to study.
If you would like to stay in Germany after completing your studies, you can apply for a residence permit to look for a job or a residence permit as a qualified professional. You can learn more in our chapters "Visa for Jobseekers" and "Visa for skilled workers".