Germany Student Visa Guide

Image of the German flag flying on a flagpole in front of a building

Germany is one of Europe’s leading countries with a population of over 80 million residents and a rich history as a hub for art, culture, and various businesses. Alongside being the largest economy in Europe, Germany has become an increasingly popular study destination for international students over the last few years.

Since 2014, Germany has abolished tuition fees for international undergraduate students at all public universities. International undergraduates at public universities in Germany can effectively study for free, and must pay only a minor semester fee. Germany’s universities provide excellent affordability as well as top-quality academic and research facilities, and this creates a perfect combination which attracts more and more international students every year.

Additionally, Germany’s major cities including Munich and Berlin are well-known for their strong public infrastructure, high levels of public safety and vibrant entertainment venues.

The fact that as many as 45 German universities feature on the latest QS World Rankings proves Germany’s world-class educational infrastructure. To find out about the top German universities, check out our Top 10 Universities in Germany article.

Germany is centrally located in Europe, and international students at German universities can comfortably travel all over the country as well as to neighbouring countries like France, Italy and Netherlands using air and rail transport systems. You will also be be able to comfortably travel straight from your home country to Germany via one of the country’s major airports such as the Berlin Airport and Munich International Airport.

With over 400,000 international students currently studying at German universities, the country is one of the world’s five most popular international study destinations. Most German universities offer a large selection of courses in English, and large immigrant communities in German cities mean you will always have the support you require as an international student in the country. Over half of German citizens are fluent in English which will make it easy for you to travel and explore the stunning German countryside and iconic towns.

The Germany Student Visa

Germany usually gives three different types of student visas to international visitors, depending on the nature of your course and length of planned stay in the country. These are:

  • German Schengen Visa: This visa is valid for a stay of up to three months and is given to international students attending summer school and other short-term courses in Germany
  • German Language Course Visa: This visa is for international students pursuing a short-term language course in Germany
  • German Student Visa: This visa type is given to international students pursuing degree programmes of over 90 days in Germany. This student visa also allows you to obtain a residence permit once you reach Germany, and is usually valid for a period of up to two years. If your degree programme is longer than two years, you will need to apply for a renewal as required

German consulates and embassies require a slightly different set of documents from international students depending on your home country. It is advisable that you prepare multiple copies as well as originals of the following documents, as they are required for all student visa applications to Germany:

  • Your Valid Passport: Must be valid for the entire duration of your university degree
  • German Student Visa Application Form
  • 3 Passport-sized photographs not older than six months
  • Proof of Enrolment or a Letter of Admission from a German University
  • Proof of Funds: This can be provided as one of the following documents – 
    • 11,208 Euro deposit confirmation in a blocked German bank account
    • Letter of commitment and evidence of your parent’s income records and financial assets
    • Letter of commitment by a German resident. This letter is submitted by the German resident who is going to cover your expenses
    • Scholarship Certificate showing the amount of expenses covered
    • Bank guarantee issued by a recognised German bank
  • Proof of Language Proficiency in German or English: PhD applicants and Erasmus Mundus Scholarship holders are exempt from this rule
  • Your CV, previous academic degrees and other important academic certificates such as exam marksheets
  • Cover Letter explaining your degree programme and post-graduation career plan. This document may also be required to be translated to German
  • Demand Draft for the Student Visa Fee

Germany Student Visa Process and Fees for International Students

We suggest that you contact your nearest German consulate or embassy and begin the student visa application process as soon as you receive your letter of admission from a German university. The average processing time for German student visas is about 25 days, but applications can sometimes take up to three months if the visa processing centre asks you for additional documents or certificates. Upon landing in Germany, after receiving your German student visa, you will need to get a residence permit and this process can take between two to three months.

In most countries worldwide, international students are required to pay 75 Euros as the German student visa application fee. You may also be required to pay a small processing and biometrics fee to your local visa processing centre. The German Residence Permit application, meanwhile, requires an additional payment of up to 110 Euros.

Germany Student Visa Work Rules

Current German student visa rules allow you to work up to 90 days full-time or 180 days part-time alongside your academics every year in the country as an international student.

Many international students use online platforms to secure internships and part-time employment at world-leading firms in cities such as Munich and Hamburg. International students can also apply for a 18-month Post-Study Work Visa which enables you to search and locate ideal jobs in the country after your graduation.

The extremely affordable fees, world-leading advanced research and faculty quality, immigrant-friendly and exciting cities, and world-leading employers all over Germany make studying in the country excellent value-for-money for international students.

For further information about student visas, see our International Student Visas article.

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