Student Residence Permit Germany

Germany is home to some of the world’s most prestigious and specialist universities and educational establishments, so it’s no surprise that many students are drawn to the country. A student residence permit is needed by most overseas students to legally reside in Germany, and here we explain the ins and outs of this immigration permission.

Total Law specialise in immigration law and help students worldwide obtain the relevant visas and residence permits to do so. Call our office today on (+44)333 305 9375 to learn more on how we can help you.

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    Introduction to Student Residence Permits in Germany

    A student residence permit is an administrative immigration permission allowing foreign students to legally live in Germany for the duration of their studies there. It is not the same as a student visa – which many overseas students will need to enter the country initially – but instead is proof of legal residence.

    For students of most nationalities, a valid student visa and student residence permit will be required to study in Germany. However, requirements vary depending on the citizenship of the applicant.

    Student residence permits are issued by the local Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Authority), and there are three types:

    • Student residence permit to attend university, for students who have been accepted into a German university to study and are able to commence classes immediately upon arrival into the country;
    • Student residence permit to attend a Studienkolleg (preparatory college), for students who intend to study at a German university but must first attend a prep college to pass the Feststellungsprüfung. This is the case where a student’s qualifications obtained abroad aren’t formally recognised in Germany;
    • Student residence permit to attend a language course, for students who are completing an intensive German language course.
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    Do I need a Student Residence Permit?

    The requirement for a German student residence permit is dependent on the applicant’s home country. This is as follows:

    Where the applicant is a citizen of a European Union (EU) member state, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, no visa or residence permit is required for students. However, if the applicant intends to stay in Germany for longer than three months, they must register with their local residents’ registration office. For British citizens, it should be noted that now the transition period to exit the EU has ended, this is no longer their route to study in Germany.

    Where the applicant is a citizen of Andorra, Australia, Brazil, Canada, El Salvador, Great Britain, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea or the United States of America, no visa is required for students. However, a student residence permit is required and must be applied for at the Ausländerbehörde within the first 90 days after arrival in Germany.

    Where the applicant is a citizen of any other nation, a student visa must first be obtained and a student residence permit applied for at the Ausländerbehörde within the first 90 days after arrival in Germany.

    Supporting documents required for Student Residence Permit

    There are several supporting documents that must be provided to the Ausländerbehörde to apply for a student residence permit. For those who have already obtained a student visa, many of these documents will already be at hand but for those that haven’t, they will need to be collected ahead of time. The following documents must be presented:

    • Residence permit application form – this can be downloaded and completed in advance or obtained and completed at the Ausländerbehörde
    • Valid passport
    • Student visa (if required)
    • A passport-size photograph
    • Proof of financial means to prove the applicant can support themselves in Germany without reliance on state funds. This may be through one of the following:
      • Proof of a blocked bank account
      • Proof of a scholarship
      • Proof of financial support from parents, family or a sponsor
    • Certificate of valid health insurance
    • Certificate of enrolment in the relevant educational establishment
    • Residence registration certificate (Meldebestätigun). This is obtained upon arrival in Germany at the resident’s registration office (Bürgeramt, or Bürgerbüro).

    All documents must be presented in German. If the originals are not produced in German, a certified translation can be provided.

    Obtaining a Residence Registration Certificate (Meldebestätigun)

    Within the first 14 days of entering Germany, those requiring a student residence permit must first undergo the procedure to register their address. Attending a local Bürgeramt, a Meldebestätigun residence registration certificate will be issued. This document is required for both the student residence permit application and to open a German bank account.

    A Meldebestätigun can be issued same-day. The applicant will need to present their passport and any visa they hold along with a proof of residence certificate (Wohnunggeberbestätigung). The Wohnunggeberbestätigung will be given to the applicant by their landlord or university upon arrival at their accommodation.

    A Meldebestätigun costs a one-off fee of €10.

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      How to apply for a Student Residence Permit in Germany

      Applying for a student residence permit once the student has arrived in Germany is a fairly simple process. In all instances, the application for the residence permit must be filed within the first 90 days after the student’s arrival in Germany.

      To apply for a student residence permit, the following steps can be taken:

      Collate all appropriate supporting documents

      The application process holds a requirement for supporting documents to be presented along with the application form. Failure to produce any of these documents will result in the residence permit being refused, and so it is important that all documentation is compiled ahead of the formal application filing.

      Book appointment at the Ausländerbehörde

      The applicant must book an appointment in advance with their local Ausländerbehörde. In most cases, an appointment will be offered within a couple of weeks but this is dependent on the office’s workload.

      Attend Ausländerbehörde

      The applicant will attend the Ausländerbehörde along with their application form and all supporting documents. A brief interview with an immigration officer will take place and then the application fee must be paid. No residence permit application will be processed without the fee being paid and so applicants must be sure that they have enough cash on them to pay. Ausländerbehörde offices in larger cities may accept credit and debit cards, but most do not.

      Collect residence permit

      Once the residence permit application has been processed and granted, the student residence permit card may be collected from the Ausländerbehörde. This card holds the photo, name and biographic information to prove legal residency in Germany.

      Fees associated with applying for a Student Residence Permit

      German student residence permits must be paid for before their issue. The costs are as follows:

      • First issuance – €110
      • Extension of permit – €100
      • Any issuance where the applicant has a full scholarship – free
      • Any issuance where the applicant is a Turkish national up to 24 years of age – €22.80
      • Any issuance where the applicant is a Turkish national over 24 years of age – €37.

      Average processing time for Student Residence Permit applications

      There is no set SLA for Ausländerbehördes to process applications for student residence permits, but in most cases it takes between 5-6 weeks for the permit to be issued. It should be noted that it doesn’t matter if the permit isn’t issued within the first 90 days of the student’s arrival in Germany, as long as the application for it was made within that period.

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        Extending a Student Residence Permit

        Student residence permits are usually issued for a one- or two-year term, dependent on the duration of the studies to be completed. They can be extended providing the holder is still studying in Germany and may be changed if the focus of studies changes; for example, if a student switches from a preparatory college to study at university.

        When extending a student residence permit, the holder is advised to file the extension application at least six weeks before the original permit expires – as they will not be able to legally reside in Germany in any period between the expiry of the prior permit and the start of the next.

        How Total Law can help

        Total Law are a firm of specialist immigration and visa law solicitors who work with students worldwide to get them the formal permissions they need to study abroad. Our team offer a free chat with no obligation to discuss your circumstances and always ensure we communicate with no legal jargon for ease.

        We know it can be stressful applying for visas and residency permits, especially when you’re already bogged down in studying and examinations. That’s why we take the hassle out of the whole process by managing it end-to-end for all; maximising your chances of success and helping ease your journey to start studying overseas.

        Give the Total Law team a call today on (+44)333 305 9375, and start your journey to Germany today.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  The holder of a student residence permit may work in gainful employment in Germany providing any visa they hold allows it. However, employment may only be part-time and must not exceed 120 full or 240 half days per year.

                  In order to acquire a Meldebestätigun, the applicant must attend their local Bürgeramt in person. In the case of a shared accommodation, anyone at the address applying for a student residence permit must attend.

                  Germany’s immigration law dictates the requirement for student visas based on the nationality of the applicant. Some students won’t need a visa or residency permit, some will need only a permit and others will need both

                  Student residency permits only last a maximum term of two years but can be extended thereafter for any extra period required, providing the student is still enrolled on the same course.

                  Germany has one of the largest overseas diplomatic missions in the world, with Embassies and Consulates in most countries. A quick online search can find your nearest but if there is not one in your country, you may visit an Embassy in a neighbouring country. You do not need to attend an Embassy to obtain a residence permit but you may need to for a visa application.

                  There are no language requirements for residency permits but there may be for visa applications and/or to study certain courses in Germany. Staff at the Ausländerbehörde and Bürgeramt offices do not offer translation services but in most locations can speak both German and English.

                  Those living in Germany under a student residence permit are not entitled to claim state assistance and must prove that they have the financial means to not do so as part of the application process. In most cases, state assistance is only available for those who hold full German citizenship.

                  In most cases, universities and educational establishments in Germany require upfront payment of any fees before a student begins their course. However, unless unpaid tuition fees results in the student being expelled from their studies altogether, the student visa and residency permit will remain valid.