Your easy guide to getting a German student visa


Updated on Sep 05 • 3 minute read

Are you a non-EU student eager to study in Germany? You're in for an exciting journey! However, you might wonder about the essential steps to obtain your German student visa. No need to fret – we're here to provide all the necessary guidance.

In this article, we'll gently guide you through the entire visa application process, addressing the requirements, application procedures, associated fees, and even sharing some helpful tips to ensure your preparation for your educational experience in Germany is smooth and worry-free.

Do I need a German student visa?

Most non-EU international students coming from countries such as China, India, Cameroon or Syria will need a student visa and a residence permit to study at a university in Germany.

Students who don’t need a German student visa include:

  • Students from Australia, Canada, the UK, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea or the USA. But if your studies last longer than 3 months, you've to apply for a residence permit__.
  • Students from Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino only need a visa or residence permit if they plan on working in Germany after their studies (this doesn't apply to student jobs).
  • Students coming from the EU/EEA or Switzerland.
  • Students doing a course shorter than 3 months will need a Schengen visa.

Types of German student visa

There are 3 types of study visas available in Germany, each catering to a specific purpose of stay:

  1. Standard German student visa: Designed for international students admitted to a German university for their studies. This visa is valid for the entire duration of your academic program. Upon graduation, it can be extended or converted into a work visa.

  2. German student applicant visa: Intended for students who must undergo entrance exams or interviews as part of the admission process. This visa has a 3-month validity. Once you receive proof of acceptance, you must apply for a standard student visa.

  3. German language course visa: Tailored for students who intend to enrol in intensive German language courses, with a minimum of 18 hours per week. This visa offers flexibility in its validity, ranging from three to twelve months.

Checklist: German student visa requirements

To apply for the German student visa, you'll need the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Completed visa application form
  • 2–3 passport photos
  • CV and motivation letter
  • Admission letter (Zulassungsbescheid) from a German university or university preparatory course or proof of conditional admission
  • Proof of high school diploma and transcripts or bachelor's degree
  • Certificate of German / English language proficiency of at least B2 level for university programs
  • Health insurance that’s valid in Germany
  • Proof of funds such as:
    • A blocked German bank account with a minimum of €11,208 (in 2023)
    • Scholarship letter showing the costs it'll cover
    • Proof of your parent's income records and financial assets
    • Declaration of commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) signed by a German resident that will financially support you during your studies

If applicable, submit the marriage or your children's birth certificate and copies of any previous German residence permits.

How to apply for a German student visa checklist

  1. Gather required visa documents.

  2. Translate and legalize non-German/English documents.

  3. Complete the online application, pay fees, and book a visa appointment (can be done up to 6 months in advance).

  4. Attend the interview and answer basic questions about your study plans. Bring all docs.

Once approved, you'll be notified to collect your passport. If rejected, you can appeal or reapply.

How much does a German study visa cost?

The application cost for a German student visa is €75 in 2023. This is not refundable if your application is rejected.

How long is the German student visa application processing time?

The processing time for a German student visa is 25 days on average. Unless they ask you for additional documents, the maximum processing time is 3 months.

How to apply for the German student residence permit?

After you arrive in Germany, it's crucial to promptly initiate the process of applying for your student residence permit, which must be done within 2 weeks. Make your way to the resident's registration and immigration office (Ausländerbehörde). Ensure you have the following documents with you: your passport containing the German visa, evidence of your university enrollment, a rental agreement, and an address registration certificate.

How much IELTS score required for the German student visa?

If you're applying for a standard German student visa and not enrolled in a preparatory course, you must have an IELTS band score ranging from 5.5 to 6, with at least 5.5 in each module.

Alternatively, you can demonstrate your English proficiency through tests such as Goethe Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, ÖSD, or TOEFL. Your choice!

Is it possible to work in Germany while studying?

If you're from an EU/EEA country, you can work up to 20 hours a week during the semester, just like German students. However, if you're from a non-EU country, the limit is 120 full days or 240 half days yearly. Don't worry though, mandatory internships for your studies don't count towards that limit, but all other types of work do.

Here's another helpful tip: You can earn up to €450 completely tax-free. However, if your earnings exceed this amount, you will be issued an income tax number, and your employer will deduct the appropriate income tax from your salary.

By following this checklist, you'll be well-prepared to tackle the German student visa application process and embark on your exciting academic journey in Germany! Good luck!

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