Campus & Student Life
CBS International Business School, 20 August 2021

German Student Visa: A Complete Guide for International Students


If you’re a student coming to study in Germany from abroad, you might need a German student visa before entering the country. 

It’s important to understand what you need to do in advance as getting a visa is essential for international students and the Germany student visa requirements vary depending on the country you’re coming from.

Don’t worry if you think visas are confusing and difficult, this German student visa checklist is here to help guide you through the application process so that you can focus on the more enjoyable parts of moving to an exciting new country. 

We’ll be covering everything you’ll need to know to get your German student visa, including the rules you’ll have to follow, the document you’ll need and how much a visa will cost you.

As long as you follow our guide, and get your application sent off as soon as you can, you’ll have nothing to worry about!

We have prepared a complete guide with relevant information about the different types of internships that are available in Germany, the rules that apply to international students and internship seekers, different types of visas required, ways to find an internship in Germany, and some behavioural tips to help you during your internship.

Everything you need to know from requirements to the application process and fees

Table of Contents: 

Do I need a visa to study in Germany?

If you’re from any of the EU member states, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland you DON’T need a visa.

If you’re from one of these countries, you can enter Germany using your national ID card. The only thing you’ll need to remember is to register your address with the Resident Registration Office when you arrive.

If you’re from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the USA, Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, and San Marino you also DON’T need a visa.

If you're from one of these countries, you don’t need a visa but you’ll have to apply for a residence permit within 90 days of your arrival.

If you’re a student from a country that we haven’t mentioned above, you WILL need a visa before coming to Germany.

Am I eligible to study in Germany?

If you’ve received, or expect to soon receive, an acceptance letter from CBS or any other German university, you should be eligible for a Germany study visa.

Here’s a list of the types of study that are eligible:

  • Undergraduate and postgraduate degrees

  • Foundation courses that must be taken before applying to a German university

  • Doctoral degrees

  • Research projects in Germany

Types of Germany study visas

In Germany, we have 3 different types of student visas that you can apply for:

German Student Visa

The German student visa is the standard long-term visa for international students who’ve already been accepted to study at a German university and are ready to start their full-time course.

If you are planning to pursue an undergraduate, graduate, or MBA programme at CBS and you’ve received an acceptance letter from us and you’re ready to start your studies at CBS in Germany, this is the visa you’ll need to apply for.

 Check out our English-taught programmes here

With this visa, you must also remember to register with the Alien Registration Office in Cologne, Mainz, or Potsdam within 2 weeks of arriving to get your Residence Permit.

German Language Course Visa

If you want to study a German language course in Germany, this is the visa you’ll need to apply for.

This is a visa that will last for the duration of your German language course, as long as it’s between 3 months and 1 year long.

German Student Application Visa

If you’ve not got a place at University yet, but you need to be in the country to make your applications, this is the visa you’ll need.

This is a temporary visa that normally lasts for 3 months and allows you to stay in Germany throughout the university application process. It doesn’t allow you to start your studies in Germany, so if you do get a university place you’ll have to apply for one of the visas above.

Keep scrolling to learn more about the requirements and the application process.

What are the requirements for a german student visa?

When applying for a visa to study in Germany, you’ll be asked for a number of different documents that will be used to assess your application.

It’s good to get these documents in order before you start the application process so that you’re prepared. Here’s a German student visa checklist that includes all of the documents you’ll need: (Make sure to prepare two complete sets of the following documents and bring them to your appointment).

  • A valid passport 

  • Duly filled out and signed application form

  • Declaration for additional contact and legal representation information

  • An A4 copy of your passport’s data page

  • Your marriage certificate (If applicable)

  • Your certificate of birth (If the applicant is under the age of 18)

  • Copies of previous German residence visas (If applicable)

  • A letter of motivation

  • A letter of acceptance from a German university

  • Certificate of language proficiency for the language you’ll study in (either German or English)

  • Certificates of any other relevant academic qualifications. This could be:

  • German university entrance qualification “Abitur”. If you’ve studied in a German education provider abroad. 

  • Recognized foreign academic qualifications. Original school leaving certificate or degree certificate if you are applying for a master’s, MBA, or Ph.D. studies.

  • Academic records or transcript.

  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)

  • Proof that you have the financial means to support yourself in Germany. Evidence could include:

       A. Confirmation of scholarships or stipends

       B. A formal letter from a sponsor living in Germany

       C. Proof of a blocked bank account for the first year of your study, amounting to €10,322

  • 2 passport pictures (that aren’t more than 3 months old)

  • A certificate showing you’ve purchased health insurance

Check out our undergraduate degrees 

Check out our graduate degrees

How to write a motivation letter for a German student visa?

A motivation letter is an opportunity for you to describe your reason for wanting to come to Germany for your studies. This is a very important document and can play a crucial role in the final decision about your visa application.

Your motivation letter isn’t a thesis or university essay, so don’t worry about making it long and impressive. It just needs to be a simple document that very clearly explains your reasoning for studying in Germany - remember that the people assessing your application read lots of these letters every day, so make it easy for them to find the key information.

Structure of a German student visa motivation letter:

1)  Introduction

For your introduction, just give a brief overview of who you are. This could include your educational background, the country you’re from, etc.

2) Explain the purpose of your visit to Germany

The main section of your motivation letter will be about why you want to study in Germany. For our students, you should write about why you chose CBS and the programme that you’ll be taking once you join us on campus.

Think about the reasons you chose CBS over another university, and why you chose Germany over other countries - these are important things that will be looked for in your application.

Here are the top reasons why CBS would be the right choice in Germany

3) List the documents that you have included in your application

Finally, you want to list the documents that are attached to your application. This makes it clear to the reader straight away that you have all of the documents that they need to see.

Keep reading to learn about the application process, fees, and the first things you have to do after arriving in Germany.

How do I apply for a German student visa?

The visa process can be long, but it’s essential for you to be allowed to study at CBS. The process includes meeting with the German consulate in your home country, completing various forms, and applying for a bank account.

The application process for a German student visa

The application process may vary slightly depending on the country you’re coming from but here’s a general guide to the steps that you’ll need to take:

  • Find the closest German Embassy or Consulate to you. You can use Google to find the website of your local Embassy, here you’ll find the contact information you need.

  • Make sure you understand the requirements and procedures. Although we’re giving you a guide on how to apply, it’s worth double-checking on your Embassy’s website that there aren’t any differences in the process before you make an appointment.

  • Set up an appointment with your local German Embassy. Your Embassy’s website should have instructions on how to set up an appointment. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time as you can never be sure how long you’ll have to wait for a meeting.

  • Set up a blocked account. This is a German bank account for international students that proves you have the funds to cover the cost of living in Germany. You’ll need to have an account with a balance of at least €10,332.

  • Apply for health insurance. You can start your application through one of Germany’s top health insurance providers, the Techniker Krankenkasse.

  • Fill in the student visa application form. This can be downloaded from your country’s German Embassy website. After you’ve completed it, double-check to make sure you haven’t missed anything. 

  • Have all of your documents ready. Once you know the date of your appointment, it’s time to double-check that you have all the documents you need. You can find all of this information in our German Student Visa Checklist PDF document.

  • Pay the visa fee. This is a non-refundable fee that you’ll have to pay before your interview. 

  • Prepare for your interview. Now it’s time to prepare so you feel confident in your interview. Here are some common interview questions you could prepare for:

       - Why do you want to study in Germany?

      - Why did you choose this specific school and course?

      - Could you not do the same course in your home country?

      - Do you speak German?

      - What benefits will living in Germany give you?

Here are some tips why Germany is the perfect place to study

When should I apply for my German student visa and how long is the processing time?

The Germany student visa processing time can vary depending on where you’re coming from, but on average it should take around 25 days.

We recommend that you start your application as soon as possible and at least three months before the start of your studies, just in case there are delays with the German Embassy in your home country. 

We wouldn’t want you to worry about your visa not arriving in time so the sooner you can apply, the better!

How much is the German student visa fee?

The typical fee for a Germany student visa is €75.

How to get your German student residence permit after arriving in Germany?

Upon arrival you need to register your address at the registration office closest to your home within 2 weeks of arriving in Germany you can then apply for your student residence permit in Germany. (Please note that the international office at CBS can help you with the process in order to make your arrival in Germany and at CBS as smooth as possible).  

What are the required documents for the address registration ”Meldebescheinigung”?

  • Your passport

  • Rental contract

  • A letter issued by the landlord confirming your address.

Please remember that you have 90 days from the date of your arrival to apply for it at the local Alien Registration Office “Ausländeramt”. The application process for this is like applying for a visa. 

Your residence permit will be valid either for a year or for 2 years and if you do need to renew it, you’ll have to remember to reapply before the expiration date.

A Germany student residence permit usually costs between €56 - 100, and then up to €96 for any renewals.

To apply for a student residence permit, you’ll be asked to provide the following documents:

  • Dully completed and signed application for a residence permit

  • Valid passport

  • Proof of health insurance

  • Confirmation of registration

  • Rental contract

  • A letter from the landlord confirming your address

  • Registered address

  • A letter of enrolment from a German university

  • Proof of financial means

  • Certificate of language proficiency

You may also be asked to provide proof of a current visa or a certificate of health.

What can you do with a temporary German student resident permit?

You can...

  • Get a part-time job where you work up to 120 days a year - as long as it doesn’t interfere with your studies

  • Apply for an extension if you haven’t been able to complete your studies within your visa period

  • Apply for a residence permit for finding a job after graduation that’s valid for 18 months

You can't...

  • Get a full-time job that requires you to work for 240 days a year

  • Abandon your studies. If you do decide to end your studies, it may lead to the cancellation of your visa

Which language certificates are valid for studying in Germany?

At CBS you’ll be studying in English so we already know that your English is good, you just need to let the German Embassy know that too.

Here you can find an overview of the requirements to study at CBS in Germany.

There are a few commonly accepted English language certificates that can be used as proof of your proficiency in the English language, these include:

  • An educational certificate from an English-speaking school

  • IELTS score: At CBS we score or at least 6.5 is required

  • Cambridge English certificates (FCE)

  • TOEFL scores: At CBS at 92 internet based points are required

  • UNIcert®

  • TOEIC certificate

  • University entrance qualifications from an English-speaking country

  • University degree from an English-speaking country

Learn more about how to study in Germany and the requirements


Now you should have a good understanding of everything you need to do to get your Germany study visa!

It’s a lot of information to take in at once, but it’s not as daunting as it seems. The most important thing to remember is to be prepared and book your appointment with your local German Embassy as soon as you can. If you do these 2 things you’ll have nothing to worry about.

If you do have any questions, or run into any problems during the visa application process, schedule an appointment with one of our student advisors on and we’ll be more than happy to help you. Alternatively, you can also attend one of our virtual info sessions.

Good luck with getting your visa, we can’t wait to welcome you on campus when it’s complete!

Here are 22 tips for living in Germany as an international student

CBS International Business School

CBS International Business School is a state-recognised private university of applied sciences for business. We offer accredited Bachelor's, Master's and MBA degree programmes in German and English on a full-time or part-time basis. Throughout Germany, the university is represented at three locations in Cologne, Mainz, and Potsdam.

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