Studying for a degree in Germany

Bonn Absolventenfeier
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Who can enter Germany to do a degree? How does the visa procedure work?

Appointments

  • Customers for Department IV B 2, the department responsible for students and graduates, have only limited opportunities to book appointments in advance (approx. 6 weeks).
  • Appointment slots are often booked up very quickly. This does not mean that there is a technical fault!
  • However, new appointment slots become available almost every day. So it is worth trying again on another day.

More information about booking online an appointment

Waiting numbers

Starting to study after successful completion of study preparations

Have you successfully completed language courses, lecture courses or preparatory work experience placements?

  • If so, the residence permit that you received for this purpose, pursuant to Section 16(1) of the German Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz), will remain valid (until the end of its expiry date).
  • Therefore, you can start your degree with the residence permit that was issued to you for the purpose of study preparations.
  • You do not need to come to the Foreigners’ Registration Office until the end of the residence permit’s expiry date.

Have you discontinued your study preparations without successfully completing them? If so, this means that your residence permit is no longer valid. Please come to the Foreigners’ Registration Office without delay.

Working during a degree

  • The residence permit for the purpose of studying entitles you to take up employment for a total of 120 full working days or 240 working half-days in the calendar year.
  • Any employment in excess of this 120-day limit can be permitted only upon request, and it must be part-time employment. In particular, it is essential that your employment does not delay your degree.
  • If you are staying for the purpose of study preparations, in the first year of your stay you are permitted to take up employment only in the vacation period. The first year of your stay means the first calendar year, not the first 12 months.
  • Part-time jobs for students are permitted without any time restrictions, so they do not count towards the 120-day limit.
    • Part-time jobs for students include:
      • Research assistant jobs at higher education institutions and other academic establishments
      • Jobs related to the student’s degree subject(s) at organizations close to higher education institutions (e.g. tutors in student union dormitories, jobs in the advice services of the higher education associations (Hochschulgemeinden), AStA and the World University Service)
      • Academic employee jobs at non-university research institutions or for doctoral students
    • However, the following examples are not regarded as part-time jobs for students:
      • Jobs at student unions (Studentenwerk) that are not related to the student’s degree (e.g. working in the canteen)
      • Academic employee jobs with employment contracts for non-matriculated doctoral students
  • Self-employment (including freelance work) is not permitted with the residence permit. Self-employment for students can be permitted only upon request and in individual cases, primarily if there is a public interest in the student’s work.

Work experience placements during a degree

  • All mandatory work experience placements prescribed for your degree are permitted.
  • Other work experience placements are permitted only within the 120-day limit for employment or with the permission of the Foreigners’ Registration Office. It does not matter whether or not the work experience is paid.
  • Pre-study work experience placements, particularly for technical courses, should have been completed before you entered Germany for the purpose of studying.

Looking for a job after successfully completing a degree

Have you finished your studies successfully?

  • Your residence permit will be extended for a maximum of 18 months in order for you to find a job that is appropriate for your degree.
  • A residence permit can also be issued for the purpose of preparing to set up a company or to start freelance work.
  • If you have a residence permit for the purpose of looking for work, you are permitted to pursue any occupation. This means that you can accept any job or be self-employed.

Information about the required documents for the issuance of a residence permit for university graduates looking for employment

Continuing a degree that was started in another member state of the European Union

Students in EU member states that have a residence title 1 there can enter without a visa and apply directly to the Berlin Foreigners’ Registration Office for a residence permit for the purpose of studying.

In order to apply, they must submit the following:

1 Excluded from this are residence permits for study stays in Denmark, the UK and Ireland

Visa for spouses and children of students

Spouses and non-adult, unmarried children of higher education and language school students can receive a visa or a residence permit only in special cases.

As a general rule, in order to be eligible, it is essential that the family has secured means of subsistence, including sufficient health insurance coverage.

  • For higher education and language school students, means of subsistence are deemed to be secured if they prove to the diplomatic mission or the Foreigners’ Registration Office that their own monthly funds are at least equal to the maximum rate (EUR 659) of the German Federal Education Support Act (BAföG).
  • As a rule, it is necessary to pay 12 times the BAföG maximum rate (EUR 7,908) into a frozen account in Germany for a visa or for the first issuance of a residence permit for the purpose of studying. You can find out about the possibility of paying securities or submitting declarations of commitment at the German diplomatic mission in your country of origin.
  • Means of subsistence for spouses and children are deemed to be secured if their own funds are at least equal to the relevant standard rate of unemployment benefit (Arbeitslosengeld II) plus their share of the rent for the Berlin residence.

Information about the visa procedure for family members
Residence permit for spouses and children of students