How to get a German student visa

In this guide we explain how to apply for a German student visa, walk you through the application process and list the required documents.

This post was last updated on December 29, 2021

In this guide

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What types of German student visas exist?

There are three types of student visas in Germany:

  • Language course visa
  • Student Applicant Visa or Visum zur Studienbewerbung
  • Student Visa or Visum zu Studienzwecken

This article is about the Student Visa.

Who needs a student visa in Germany?

  • EU citizens don't need a student visa to study in Germany.
  • Citizens from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and the USA need a visa to study in Germany but do not need a visa to enter Germany for up to 90 days.
  • All other non-EU citizens need a visa to enter Germany. This means you need a student visa before you travel to Germany. You can however enter Germany on a student applicant visa while waiting for the student visa.

Who can apply for a German student visa?

The student visa is for students at universities or equivalent institutions, students who need to do a test before starting their university studies, Ph.D candidates or foreigners who want to engage in a research project in Germany source.

How long does it take to get a student visa?

The German consulate might take up to 4 months to issue a student visa. Applications at German universities usually start in April for the winter semester and in January for the summer semester and you need confirmation from the university in order to apply for the visa.

Benefits of the German student visa

The German student visa allows you to study, live and work in Germany. You have to apply for a residence permit separately which will be granted for the same duration as the student visa.

The student visa entitles you to work up to 120 full days a year in Germany for an employer source. Please read our freelance visa guide if you want to do additional consultant work or open a business in Germany while studying.

Where do I apply for a German work visa?

Any German consulate or embassy can issue a student visa.

Follow these steps to get a student visa and a residence permit in Germany

  • Step 1: Apply to the German university.
  • Step 2: Make a visa appointment in the online system for a German consulate in your country once you have enough feedback from the university to plan your travel. Make this appointment as soon as possible. Start applying for the student visa at least 4 months before the start of your relocation to Germany.
  • Step 3: Check your passport validity. Your passport must be valid for the entire stay in Germany and should not be older than 10 years. Request a new passport if necessary.
  • Step 4: Open a blocked account at a German bank. This is called Sperrkonto. Deutsche Bank and some branches of the Berliner Sparkasse offer blocked accounts. The blocked account amount has to be 10.332.- Euro per year of your stay and the maximum monthly withdrawal must be limited to 861.- Euro source. A blocked account might not be necessary if you have a scholarship of more than 720.- Euro per month.
  • Step 5: Make sure you have all the required documents. We have a list of required documents for you.
  • Step 6: Go to the interview at the embassy.
  • Step 7: Travel to Germany.
  • Step 8: Open a German checking account. It will be hard to rent a flat in Germany without a checking account. Read more in our guide to open a checking account as a foreigner in Germany. Some banks let you open a checking account without a registered German address. We have an overview of the best bank accounts for foreigners in Germany.
  • Step 9: Find a place to live in Germany. You need a registered address before going to the Foreign office to apply for the residence permit (Ausländerbehörde). You need a document called a Wohnungsgeberbestätigung from your landlord in order to register an address. You don't get this document when living in an illegal sublet, a hotel or AirBnB flat.
  • Step 10: Register your German address at the local Bürgeramt. You need a document called Wohnungsgeberbestätigung from your landlord for this and receive a document called Anmeldebestätigung from the Bürgeramt. The registration must not be later than 14 days after moving into your new apartment.
  • Step 11: Make an appointment for your residence permit at the Ausländerbehörde.

How long do I have to wait for the student visa?

The student visa can take up to 4 months to be issued by the authority. Please note that your passport might stay at the German consulate while they are processing your application source.

Required documents

These are the required documents to apply for a German work visa source.

  • Confirmation of enrollment from your university.
  • The student visa application form from the German consulate in your home country.
  • Two biometric passport photographs.
  • Proof of financial means. This can be 10.332.- Euro per year of your stay on a blocked account (Sperrkonto) or a scholarship exceeding 720.- Euro per month.
  • A Passport that is valid for the entire duration of your stay including planned extensions and not older than 10 years.
  • Proof of residence of your address in your home country. This can be your driving license and some utility bills for electricity or similar.
  • Proof of a health insurance plan. You do not get a residence permit without German health insurance. Travel insurance is not accepted. Read our guide to health insurance plans for more information.
  • Proof of a clean criminal record.
  • Proof of paid visa fee.
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