Student visa Germany application

Congrats on deciding to study in Germany! As with all new beginnings you are probably going from excitement to anxiety and from being full of anticipation to being overwhelmed. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there! You’ll be fine! So, lets take a deep breath and tackle this step by step!

We put together a guide, on how to apply for your student visa in Germany, so you can start the process of your application organised and hopefully hassle free!

student visa Germany

What kind of student visa Germany has to offer?

Lets jump right into it and use the different types of student visas to practice a little German, shall we?

Visum zur Studienbewerbung (student applicant visa)

If you don’t have a confirmation of admission from your university yet, you should apply for this visa. It will give you three months in Germany to either wait for the confirmation or to apply for further universities, until you get into one of them. It can be extended for another three months, in case you need more time. Once you get admitted, you can apply for a student visa.

Visum zu Studienzwecken (student visa)

Your university of choice has already confirmed your admission? Then this is the visa you should apply for. Those visas are valid for three months as well. During this time you will have to apply for an extended residence permit at the Alien Registration Office in the town you are studying in. The guide that follows will concentrate on this case.

Language course visa

If you want to come to Germany to take a language class, you can apply for this visa. It is only valid for the duration of the language course but it doesn’t require to prove any German skills, or any previous academic performance. Note, that it can’t be converted into a student application or student visa once you are in Germany! If you would want to get any of those two visas after, or during the language course visa, you would have to go to your home country to apply for it.

Research visa

There are a few advantages with this kind of visa. It is especially designed for researchers coming from non-EU/EEA countries to work and stay in the EU, in order to pursue their research. These visas are normally processed faster and also provide advantages for researchers bringing family members with them. People granted the residence title “researcher”, under §20, can also teach at higher education institutions.

What are the basic requirements for a student visa in Germany?

First of all: take your time for the student visa application!

Germany is notorious for its bureaucracy for a good reason and a visa application is a lengthy process. It is also important to choose the right visa for yourself, because you can’t change a visa for another, once you’re in Germany. So keep that in mind when you choose what to apply for! In order to get your visa eventually, you will need the following five things:

1. Good enough financial resources ⚀

Because students are only allowed to work a certain amount of hours, you will have to proof how you’re going to support yourself financially. In order to do so, you will need to provide a document called “Finanzierungsnachweis” (proof of financing). It can take different forms;

  • A blocked bank account that holds at least 10 332 € per year available to you
  • Your parents’ proof of income
  • A guarantee by a permanent resident in Germany to cover your expenses
  • A bank guarantee
  • A scholarship award notification

Document needed to fulfill that requirement: an official-looking piece of paper from your bank, your parents’s bank or from a scholarship satisfying the minimum financing threshold per year for your time in Germany.

2. University-entry qualification and university admission ⚁

Time to learn your first German compound noun I guess: “Hochschulzugangsberechtigung”. Beautiful, isn’t it? It basically means “university entrance qualification”. This school leaving certificate is mandatory to study at a German university. In some cases, your secondary-school certificate might be insufficient in Germany. So first of all you will need to find out whether that is the case or not. Because if it isn’t valid, you will need to attend a foundation course (“Studienkolleg”) before you are allowed to enroll.

To check if your school leaving exam is valid in Germany, or not visit the DAAD data base.  If you type in the country where you gained your school leaving certificate you should have your answer in no time.

If you want to apply for a student visa you will also need the admission confirmation from your university like the enrollment certificate or a letter of admission. You can also provide an official confirmation from the university that you have high chances to be admitted.

Document needed to fulfill that requirement: A letter from your German university stating that you got in and a school leaving certificate recognized by Germany.

3. Sufficient German skills ⚂

Whether or not you will need to proof your German skills and make a test, depends on the classes you want to enroll in and on your existing academic experience with the German language.

If you choose a study program that is taught in German, naturally you will have to prove your skills. You can do so by taking a language test such as TestDaf  or DSH.

However, you won’t need to take a separate test if:

If you enroll into an international degree programme or a special post-graduate course, German skills aren’t mandatory in advance. You can enroll into a German classes after your arrival, if you want to.

Document need to fulfill that requirement: a test score-card or an appropriate language certificate.

4. Appropriate health insurance ⚃

It is mandatory to have health insurance in Germany for the whole duration of your stay. There are 2 possible ways to go; public or private. When enrolling into a German university, you will have go public. You will also need the confirmation when applying for your residence permit. It is important to take care of your health insurance situation before you come to Germany. Public health insurance for students costs about 80€/month until you reach the age of 30.

If you fall in the following categories, you are allowed go for (cheaper) private insurance:

  • language students (e.g. in preparation of a language test)
  • practical trainees
  • scientists
  • internship students
  • students above 30

In some cases the insurance of your home country might be valid. Germany accepts the health insurance of some other countries. Such as all member states of the European Union, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Israel, Liechtenstein, Morocco, Macedonia, Montenegro, Switzerland, Serbia,
Tunisia and Turkey.

If you are form any of these countries, all medical treatments should be covered through your current insurance. Figuring out your health insurance is probably one of the first things you should take care of, as you will need it in your application. Far more details on how to get health insurance in Germany for a visa application this way.

Document needed to fulfill that requirement: a certificate from an insurance company satisfying minium coverage requirements.

5. A residence permit (in most cases)⚄

On top of the German student visa, you will have to apply for a residence permit if you are not an EU/EEA citizen and intend to study longer than 90 days in Germany. For the resident permit application you will need to bring the following documents to your appointment at the Foreigners’ Office:

  • Confirmation of registration from your local registration office “Bürgeramt” (More info: Meldebescheinigung)
  • Confirmation of health insurance coverage
  • Student ID from your German university (certificate of enrollment)
  • Proof of financial resources if you somehow didn’t show one while applying for a student visa
  • Valid passport and current visa, if you have one already

A resident permit is valid 2 years and can be extended if needed. You need to do this application within the first 3 months after your arrival in Germany. Make sure you book an appointment at the Foreigners’ Office in advance then (Book here for Berlin office).

Satisfy all requirements and you will walk out of there with the precious gem! 🙂

Student Germany visa: Can I work with it?

If you are from a EU or EEA country, you can work in Germany without any restrictions or time limit. Non-EU or EEA students can work 120 full days or 240 half days per year. That means 20 hours per week during the semester. If you’d want to exceed this time limit, you can apply at the
“Agentur für Arbeit” (Job center) authority for a work permit.

Why could my student visa application for Germany be rejected?

Rejection hurts and in case of a student visa rejection it can be really time consuming and nerve wrecking on top! We summarized five major reasons why you could get rejected and how to avoid them.

Poor grades

The grade standards in Germany are high! If the people at the embassy see your grades and think they are not suitable for the German academic world, they might reject you, as they might think you can’t succeed in your studies in Germany. In case you don’t have the best grades, you should
probably try to make up for that in your interview. Convince them why you are the perfect candidate nonetheless.

Insufficient German skills

If they are mandatory and you can’t prove you have them, it could be a reason for rejection. If you are aware that your language skills aren’t good enough, it would be wiser to postpone your application. Better to do your homework properly, than being rejected for that reason!

Irrelevant or inconsistent program choice

To switch careers after finishing a bachelor’s might make sense to you, but to see an applicant with a BA in Fine Arts, applying for a Master’s in Engineering, might seem strange and inconsistent to the people reading the application. Of course it would be easier and recommended to apply for a master’s program, that is related to your undergraduate studies. If you want to switch careers though, justify the change and bring some proof of work experience within the new field.

Wrong profile

Unfortunately Germany is targeting some specific groups. You should be young and skilled and have the potential to improve the economic landscape of the country. To avoid being rejected for not fitting meeting these requirements, do some research on where people in your profession are wanted. In case of Germany, anyone with an Engineering and IT background hast great chances.

Bad interview performance

Prepare, prepare, prepare! You interviewer might ask you all sorts of questions and test your German skills. Do a little research on what you can expect in the interview for your student visa application in Germany.

Watch out for the red lights during your application!

Is there someone i can talk to for guidance?

You can of course decide to talk to immigration specialists. For more general questions, you can also call a dedicated hotline setup by in cooperation with many different German administrations. They can answer your questions in English. More info about this hotline this way.

Alternatively, you can turn to this Facebook group: Problems and Challenges with Ausländerbehorde and Einbürgerungsamt (Berlin). It’s a helpful and active bunch.

My curriculum has a semester or two as part of an exchange program, will my student visa expire then?

Once you have acquired your student visa for Germany, it’s also useful to be aware of how it can be terminated. As mentioned by the German residence act, your visa is usually unilaterally terminated if you leave the country for more than 6 months. However, the same act does plan for an exception to the rule if your university has exchange program abroad. In this case, your residence permit won’t expire. In doubt, you can contact the Immigration office about that via the hotline.

Just make sure to keep your place of residence at a German address as well, even for the duration of your time abroad.

TL;DR: How to approach the German student visa application best?

  • Like I already said in the beginning: take your time for the German student visa application!
  • Figure out which university you want to apply for and apply.
  • Make sure to apply for the right visa. You can’t change it later! With the wrong visa you might be forced to go back home to apply again from there.
  • Check, double check, idiot check! Make sure all your forms are filled out correctly and all documents are valid and provided. Your passport for example should be valid for your entire stay.
  • Also take some time to arrive in Germany properly! Give yourself enough time to enroll and care of some administrative tasks.

Good luck with your student visa Germany application and feel free to leave any questions in the comments.

Sources: 1, 2, 3


  • Reply Palak 19/01/2021 at 05:04

    Hy i am palak i have a vpd from 3 unis of germany can i apply for a student applicant visa i have to write testdaf and other exams and go to a student kolleg also can you tell me if i applied to a language school for tesdaf and other courses

  • Reply Ramez 04/12/2020 at 13:52


    When applying for student residence in Berlin, they say processing time is between 4 to 6 weeks. During this time will they keep the passport with them?

  • Reply CHEX 25/10/2020 at 23:26

    Hello, I will be moving to Berlin from an English-Speaking non-EU country – All the documents I have prepared for the Visa Application are in English. The documents are photocopies of the originals. My question is, do any of these documents need to be Notarized? Or will it be sufficient to bring the Original documents for presentation, and then to submit the photocopies? Many thanks.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/10/2020 at 10:42

      Hey Chex. For which visa now and which documents are you talking about?

  • Reply Emma Loveland 27/07/2020 at 16:26

    Hello! Thank you for this information. I am applying for a master’s program in Germany — the program does not have a German language requirement. Will my student visa interview and application still require a specific level of proficiency? Thanks!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/08/2020 at 21:46

      Hey Emma. As mentioned in the post, that would not be required.

  • Reply Richard 18/12/2019 at 14:15

    Hello, I am Richard. I live in Ghana. I went for my interview on 11.12.2020 However, I have notice 3 inconsistencies with my dates of birth but I submitted affidavit for one of them and submitted to the embassy. The embassy called me today asking for my Junior High School certificate which also has a different birth certificate. Can I go for another affidavit and submit it to them?

    • Reply Richard 18/12/2019 at 14:17

      Sorry date for the interview was 11.12.2019

  • Reply Eliza Vin 15/09/2019 at 05:19

    Thank you for your information. It really made it easy to understand.
    I’ve applied for my student visa on Aug 20, 2019 but my classes begin in September 25, 2019.
    Is there a chance for my Visa to get rejected because of the short span between my classes and visa process.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/09/2019 at 11:11

      Hey Eliza. There is no easy answer to this. It depends…

  • Reply Nina 21/08/2019 at 00:22

    Hello, thanks so much for all the information, I have a question, if I am on my student visa, can I work or register as independent contractor? how does it work? I work as a photographer and normally I work independently, can I do that while I am studying in Germany? Ipve been trying to find an answer but I don´t know where to ask, Thank you again!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/08/2019 at 23:18

      Hey Nina. It’s like i wrote here. You can work, but there are restrictions.

  • Reply Hannah 03/08/2019 at 22:05

    Hello. I am planning on moving to Germany this fall (I’m a US citizen but current resident of Spain). I was planning on taking a German course for around a year and then next year I plan to start a master’s program. Could I get a language course student visa for the time I will be taking the language course and then once I am accepted into a master’s program could I get a new student visa via the university? Applications have not yet been due for the master’s programs I am interested in so I cannot get a student visa via the university right away.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/08/2019 at 11:23

      Hey Hannah. That would be the correct order to do things yes.

  • Reply Leyla 06/05/2019 at 17:05

    Hey Ishita!

    I have a similar problem right now: I came to Germany on a working holiday visa. Now I got accepted at a university in Dortmund and they have me go back all the way to Uruguay to apply for a student visa. Have you found out if there is a way to go around all this work and do it directly in Germany?


  • Reply PARTH NARENDRA BAHUDHANE 18/02/2019 at 08:37

    Hello, i have applied for a student visa in berlin on 8th January 2018 through VFS mumbai but today 6 weeks has been completed still i did not receive my visa. General consulate said that domestic german authorities approval is still pending. My college will be started from 25th February 2019. What should i do?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/02/2019 at 10:44

      Hello Parth. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do at this point but wait. If you need an residence permit extended until it gets approved for the longer term, you may ask for one.

    • Reply Jones 13/03/2019 at 10:08

      Please have you received your visa?? Share your experience because am also eeperiencing the same thing.

    • Reply Jones 13/03/2019 at 10:13

      Did you received the visa or still waiting??

  • Reply Ishita Bajaj 29/09/2018 at 15:12

    Hi, I am Ishita. Thank you for posting this. Its quite helpful.
    I am currently in Berlin as a visiting scholar. I want to take admission as a doctoral student in FU-Berlin. I have a letter ensuring financial support for my stay. I would also be able to get a notification as a doctoral candidate. However, for enrollment I need a type D visa which I currently don’t have. To get the same I have to fly back to India. Is there a separate document for enrollment and admission. I just want to know what documents would be enough to ensure me a National Visa.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/09/2018 at 19:47

      Hey Ishita. I’d say it’s better to have the admission letter, but it probably depends on FU-Berlin, how they manage admissions, if they do that with different documents. It’s better to ask them directly or refer to their documentation. They are probably used to your sort of your case and can tell you which document works best for a long-stay visa. Good luck!

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