Visa for the purpose of studying

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Who may enter Germany for the purposes of studying?

You may study at a state or state-accredited higher education institution (university, teacher training college, art college or polytechnic), or a comparable training institution, vocational academy, or state or state-accredited preparatory college (Studienkolleg).

The purpose of your stay encompasses:
  • German classes to prepare for a course of studies,
  • Preparatory college (Studienkolleg),
  • Mandatory work experience (generally for a maximum period of two years)
  • Remedial courses,
  • A first-cycle course of studies at a German higher education institution up to completion of an initial professional qualification (foundation course and main course, including accompanying work experience, intermediate and final examinations),
  • An additional or complementary course of studies (postgraduate course), or
  • A doctorate, as well as
  • Subsequent practical activities, provided that they are part of the prescribed training course.
Please note the following:
  • As a general rule, it is not possible to do remedial studies in Germany in order to meet the general educational preconditions for enrolling on the intended course of studies.
  • The German classes taken must be intensive courses, with at least 18 hours a week, and they may not be publicly funded. Evening, weekend and distance learning courses do not meet the requirements.
  • A residence permit cannot be issued for an intensive course to learn a foreign language (e.g. English). This applies even if the desired course of studies is offered only in this foreign language.

How does the visa procedure work?

For your application to the German foreign mission (embassy or general consulate), you must submit the following:

  • Proof of sufficient means of subsistence. You are deemed to have sufficient means if they match the BAföG (Federal Law on Support in Education) maximum rate (currently EUR 828 per month). The following are accepted as proof:
  • Confirmation of your admission to the course, or proof that you meet the educational preconditions for enrolling on the course.

Depending on each individual case, further documents may be required.

The foreign mission will forward your visa application to the Foreigners’ Registration Office, so that the latter can issue a response.
If the Foreigners’ Registration Office gives no response within three weeks and two working days, the foreign mission may issue the visa, provided that all requirements are fulfilled (this is known as the “Schweigefristverfahren”, or “period of silence procedure”).

Who does not need a visa?

  • Students in EU member states (except Denmark, Great Britain and Ireland) who hold a residence title for the purpose of studying there
  • Nationals of Andorra, Australia, Brazil, Canada, El Salvador, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), San Marino or the United States of America
  • Individuals who hold a residence title 1 of a Schengen country
1 National visas, Schengen visas, temporary residence permits for asylum seekers (Aufenthaltsgestattungen) and temporary suspensions of deportation (Duldungen) of other Schengen countries are not residence titles in this sense.