All international students from non-EU countries require a German student visa to enter and study in Germany. There are three types of German visas: a Schengen visa- category C (short-term stays), a national visa- category D (longer-term stays), and a prospective visa. Students can apply for a Schengen Visa if they plan to visit Germany for a brief period, i.e., 90 days (3 months). Students accepted to a German university for a long-term course like a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree can apply for a national visa. You can apply for a prospective visa if haven’t been accepted by a German university yet. Once you arrive in Germany, you can apply for a residence permit.
Students from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland are exempt from Schengen and national visas. They only need to produce a valid ID like their passport to enter Germany. After finding accommodation, they must register with Einwohnermeldeamt or the residents’ registration office of the university town. Upon registration, they automatically receive a “residence permit.” With the permit, they are allowed to stay for three months out of every six months within the entire Schengen area.
Students from the following non-EU countries also do not require a visa to enter Germany:
- Great Britain
- New Zealand
- South Korea
- United States
However, they have to register within two weeks with Einwohnermeldeamt and apply for a residence permit to stay. Similarly, students from Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, and San Marino can enter Germany without a visa. But they do not plan on working in Germany. Upon arrival, they can apply for a residence permit to stay in Germany.
Germany’s visa regulations have tightened due to the COVID-19 crisis, requiring students to obtain vaccinations before entering the country. A total of 304,773 national visas were issued in 2021, surpassing the 191,485 issued in 2020. As the pandemic situation improves, the numbers seem to be rising a bit.
Note: A Schengen visa for non-EU nationals which is valid for 90 days cannot be extended. The conditions for granting an extension (in an unforeseeable situation) are stringent.
German visa fees
As per the updates from February 2020, the fee for a Schengen visa is 80 Euros and 75 Euros for a national visa. Fees for both the visas are waived in certain circumstances like
Fee waiver for a Schengen visa
- Students accompanying a teacher for the purpose of study or training
- Researchers from non-EU counties traveling within Europe for scientific studies
- For replacement of an old visa with a fresh visa valid for the same period
Fee waiver for a national visa
- International students eligible for public scholarships
Time required to process German visas
In accordance with German law, the Federal Republic of Germany’s missions, including its embassies and general consulates, are in charge of providing visas. It takes approximately two to ten working days for German missions to process a Schengen visa. The time required to process a national visa can be more than three months. There can be a waitlist to apply to a German mission during the peak admissions period. Students should therefore submit their applications on time.
How to apply for a German student visa?
To apply for a German visa, students must contact the German embassy or consulate in their home country. They can download the application forms for a national or a Schengen visa directly from the website of the Federal Foreign Office. If accepted to a German higher education institution, you can apply for a national visa directly. If you are visiting Germany to take an entrance examination, you should apply for a prospective student visa. A prospective visa is valid for 3 months like a Schengen visa but can be extended to 6 months if you get accepted to a German university of higher education.
Note: Students with a national visa are allowed to work part-time in Germany. Whereas, students on Schengen or prospective visas are not permitted to work in Germany.
Students must submit the application along with the required documents to the respective embassy. They will then be called in for a personal interview. The consular official will check the applicant’s information and documents and ask specific questions related to the applicant’s visa category. The German mission will then forward the visa application for an opinion to the foreign authority in the university city/town. The foreign authority in Germany accepts the application on the following grounds.
- The reason for visiting Germany is credible and acceptable
- The candidate is able to pay for his or her living expenses and travel expenses out of personal funds or income
- The holder of the visa is ready to depart the territory before it expires
- The applicant holds a travel health insurance
The foreign authority might reject a visa if the applicant is unable to fulfill the above-mentioned requirements. The applicant in this situation has the choice to write to the visa division of the relevant German mission abroad and inquire as to why their application was rejected (remonstration). Please be advised that you must personally file the complaint. Gyanberry offers visa assistance services to more than 20 countries including Germany. For more information, click here.
Documents required for German student visa application
The following is a list of documents required to apply for a student visa in Germany
- Valid passport
- Filled visa application form
- Proof of student health insurance
- Proof of sufficient funds/living expenses
- Language requirements of the desired course of study
- Letter of acceptance from your higher education institution
- School leaving certificate
- If applying for a prospective student visa: a recognized higher education entrance qualification
- A health certificate
On the day you depart for Germany, your passport must include at least two blank pages into which the visa can be entered. Additionally, it must be issued within the last ten years and be valid for at least another three months.
After completing your studies, you can extend your student visa if you intend to look for a job in Germany. You have to apply for a residence permit which allows you to stay in Germany for 18 months to find a job. While searching for a suitable job, you are allowed to work side jobs. Once you land a job offer, you have to convert your permit for studying into a residence permit for working for skilled workers or EU Blue Card.