Thus, many internationals continue to pursue their dream of studying higher education in Germany. However, the first and foremost requirement they must encounter is to get a student visa, which isn't always an easy process.

Is a German student visa applicable to every study type?

A German student visa, due to §16 Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz), is a must if you’re a foreigner having been admitted to a university or equally recognized institution, on either full-time studies or preparatory measures before such studies in German, more specifically as follows:

  • Student visa: for full-time academic studies;
  • Student applicant visa: preparatory language course if the foreigner has been admitted to full-time study and admission is linked to attending a preparatory language course, and propaedeutic courses;
  • Student applicant visa: state preparatory college (Studienkolleg). As an international student, you have to take this course if your school-leaving certificate isn’t accepted in Germany. Afterward, you will sit for the assessment test (Feststellungsprüfung) to get a certificate known as a university entrance qualification which can be used to apply for German universities;
  • Visa for Internship: obligatory preliminary internship

In this article, our main focus is on student visa where we will explain which documents you will need, what you can and cannot do with your visa, and we also give you some suggestions regarding what to do after arriving in Germany.


Which documents do you need to submit when applying for a German student visa?

Typically, you must visit the German Embassy/Consulate in your country to apply for a student visa. Whether your application is accepted or not heavily depends on your provided information and supporting documents with the original version and two photocopies of each paper, including:

  • two completed national visa application forms;
  • valid national passport;
  • previous passports;
  • two biometric portrait photographs taken recently;
  • proof of admission into a study program, either university admission letter (Zulassungsbescheinigung) or letter of acceptance in the foundation course/propaedeutic course/preparatory German language course;
  • authenticated certificates of earlier education a.k.a. the German university entrance qualification (Abitur) if you’ve completed a course offered by a German education provider abroad. Otherwise, recognized foreign academic qualification and academic records or transcript would make an ideal alternative;
  • curriculum vitae with proofs of internship and work experiences enclosed;
  • means of subsistence (Finanzierungsnachweis) to show your financial ability to cover accommodation and study expenses. There are 5 ways to prove your financial ability. For more information, please check this article


  • covered health insurance of at least three months for €30,000 in the least.
  • motivation letter: You need to clarify reasons for your choice of university and study program, your study and plans as well as the impacts of such studies on your career and life;
  • marriage certificate (if you are married) and a birth certificate of your children (if related);
  • proof of payment for the visa application fee of €75;
  • proof of German language proficiency, if you are going to attend German-only and mixed-language study programs:

    1. Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH): German Language University Entrance Examination for International Applicants.
    2. Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache (Test DaF): Test of German as a Foreign Language.
    3. Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom (GDS): Goethe Institute of German Language Diploma.
    4. Deutsches Sprachdiplom der Kultusministerkonferenz level B2/C1: (DSD) German Language Diploma of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs.
  • Proof of English language proficiency, if you apply for English and mixed-language study programs:

    1. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): the accepted results are 550, 213, and 79-80 points for paper-based, computer-based, and internet-based test, respectively.
    2. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS): the accepted bands are 5 – 6.5.

As a holder of a German student visa, you:


  • Register for extending the student residence permit: if your prospective study hasn't been completed within the visa period, you can apply for an extension as long as you make sure you will finish it in a suitable time.
  • Get a part-time job: you’re eligible for up to 120 full working days or 240 haft working days per year provided that it doesn’t adversely affect your academic performance.
  • Seek a residence permit after graduation: you are allowed to apply for a 18-month residence permit if your studies in Germany have finished. During this period, you can seek a job or become self-employed. Otherwise, you might choose to work in a temporary position before getting a permanent job.


  • Get a full-time job: With a German student visa, it’s impossible to work for more than 120 days full-time per year. Therefore, students can’t receive a work permit.
  • Abandon study lessons: Non-attendance at study lesson(s) may cause invalidation your eligibility to live in Germany.

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How long can a student visa allow you to stay in Germany?

A student visa allows you to stay in this country for 6 months. During this period, it’s necessary to get a residence permit to study, which has a maximum duration of 2 years. Depending on the length of your studies, you can apply for an extension of residence permit.

With a student applicant visa, you are allowed to stay in Germany for a period up to 6 months. During this time, if you receive an official admission letter, you will then apply for a residence permit.

What to do after reaching Germany?

Before your course starts, it's essential to make adequate preparations as follows:

Find accommodation

You need to seek permanent shelter as soon as you arrive in Germany since the evidence of permanent address may turn out helpful on specific occasions in the future. You can choose to stay in a student residence, a self-rented apartment, or share a flat with someone else.

For further information about this subject, please read our article on

Seek confirmation of registration (Meldebestätigung)

You should register your living address within one week since finding your permanent housing at the local Resident’s Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) or at Citizen’s Bureau (Bürgeramt). Upon completion of the application, the confirmation of registration (Meldebestätigung) will be issued.

You have to register again every time you move to new accommodation.

Register for German health insurance (Krankenversicherung)

It’s imperative that everyone living in Germany take out a health insurance policy. As for students, no proof of health insurance means impossible enrollment at a German university.

Several German health insurance companies choose students as their target.

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Matriculate in studies

After finding your housing and getting your health insurance covered, you need to visit the student service office to get the certificate of enrollment in studies within the dates stated in the letter of admission. Otherwise, you aren’t entitled to attend classes, take exams, get a degree, and access university services, which means removal from the student register.

Upon enrollment, remember to bring along your valid national passport, letter of admission, covered health insurance, a few recently taken passport photographs.

Initially, you'll receive a certificate of enrollment that serves as a temporary student ID. After you pay your study fees (if any) and semester contribution of about 250 Euros, the official student ID card will be sent to you by post. The donation covers the cost of using university services and local public transportation. You can also use the ID account, e-mail, and password on the education provider server to access internal electronic materials and library resources.

Open a current bank account (Girokonto) with a recognized German bank

It usually costs you nothing to open a bank account, which is used to pay study-related fees, rent, registration fee, and other bills as well as receive your salary and any subsidy.

Required documents include:

  • Valid national passport
  • Confirmation of registration (Meldebescheinigung)
  • Evidence of student status in Germany. You can choose one of the following:
  • Student registration certificate (Immatrikulationsbescheinigung)
  • Letter of admission
  • Student visa

For further information about this subject, please read


Apply for a residence permit to study at the Foreigners' Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde)

You have to apply for a residence permit for studies right after receiving the confirmation of registration. This is only possible if you own a valid student visa.

You should have an overview of German student visa by now. Check out our other articles for more details regarding German visa. If you have any questions, send us a message. We will connect with you as soon as possible!