Do I need a Student Residence Permit?
Everyone who is not an EU/EEA citizen must apply for a student residence permit at the Ausländerbehörde if they will study in Germany for longer than 90 days.
However, citizens of the following non-EU/EEA countries can enter Germany visa-free and apply for a residence permit directly (they do not need to get a student visa from the German Embassy):
Everyone else has to get both a German student visa (in their home country before they travel) and a residence permit (after arriving in Germany.)
How do I apply for a Residence Permit in Germany?
To apply for a residence permit in Germany, you should follow these steps:
Step 1 – Register
As soon as you find accommodation in Germany, you should register with the local residents’ registration office. They will give you a confirmation (Meldebestätigung) in written proving that you have registered. Make sure not to lose this document since you need it for your residence permit.
This registration should happen within one or two weeks since the moment you move to Germany; otherwise you will be required to pay an administrative fine. You should book an appointment within that time period, and you can usually book the appointment online through the residents’ registration office.
You will need the following documents when you register:
A signed housing confirmation from the landlord.
A passport, visa, and personal identification card.
A registration form (which you can take from the residents’ registration office)
Fee: Normally, no fee is required to register.
Step 2 – Apply for the residence permit
You should apply for a residence permit at the foreigners’ registration office in the city you are studying in within three months. You can get the address from the International Office or search it online. Afterwards, make sure to fill out an application form and set an appointment. You will need to submit the following documents at the office, in person:
Passport and visa
Proof of Health Insurance
Certificate of Enrolment from your university
Proof of financial resources
Proof of scholarship award (if any)
Biometric passport photos
Proof of English/German proficiency
Original certificates of previous education
Fee when you first apply: €50-60 up to €110 ; Extension: €100
Processing time: The processing time of the residence permit usually takes two to three weeks.
How long is a Residence Permit valid for?
A student residence permit is usually valid throughout the duration of your study programme. However, if you do not finish your programme in time, the validity of the permit can be extended. It is suggested that you apply for extension a few weeks before the permit expires. You need proof from the university to show that your studies are progressing regularly in relation to the standard period of study.
What are the benefits of a Residence Permit?
Live in Germany: The student residence permit allows you to live in Germany for the duration of your studies. It is usually issued for one year with a maximum of two years. However, the permit can be extended.
Work in Germany: According to the law in Germany, international students can work during their studies, nevertheless, this is only for a certain number of hours. The law claims that you can work full-time for 120 days per year, or part-time for 240 days per year. Long-term contracts are prohibited during this period.
In addition, if you graduate from a German university, you can extend your residence permit for another 18 months (if you plan to find a job in Germany). If you do find a job, you must apply for the Employment Residence Permit in Germany and proceed working there for the duration of your permit.