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Residence permit for students from non-EU and non-EEA states - application

Foreign nationals from non-EU and non-EEA states, who wish to study in Germany, usually require a residence permit:

  • Applicants (for study) from Switzerland can enter the country without a visa. They receive a residence permit for Swiss nationals.
  • Applicants (for study) from specific countries can enter Germany without a visa. If you stay longer than three months, you require a residence permit for students.
    • Andorra
    • Australia
    • Honduras
    • Israel
    • Japan
    • Canada
    • Republic of Korea
    • Monaco
    • New Zealand
    • San Marino
    • USA
  • Other foreign nationals, who enter Germany with a student visa, can usually use the visa to obtain a residence title for three months. Within eight days of arrival in Germany, they must register at the registration office in their new place of residence. Before their visa expires they must apply for a residence permit.

The residence permit is valid for a limited period and is only valid for this specific purpose. If the purpose of the stay changes, you must notify the competent authority immediately.

You must apply for an extension of the residence permit in good time before it expires.

The validity and conditions of the residence permit depend on the purpose of the stay:

  • Residence permit for participation in language courses
  • For intensive language courses, you can obtain a residence permit for a maximum of 12 months. The course must consist of a minimum of 18 hours per week and provide students with a comprehensive knowledge of German within a specific period.
  • For preparatory measures (for example, attendance at a language course or foundation course, preparatory work placements), you receive a residence permit that is valid for a maximum of two years.
  • Residence permit for application for a course of studies
  • Validity is a maximum of nine months. Within this period, you must prove either admission to study, acceptance into a preparatory German language course, or into a foundation course.
  • Residence permit for the purposes of study
  • Validity of one to two years. An extension of up to two years is possible.
  • The subject of the course of study is shown as the purpose of stay in the residence permit. You must therefore notify the immigration authorities immediately of any change of subject or change of place of study.
  • Internships accompanying a course of study do not change the purpose of the stay. However, you require an additional approval from the immigration authorities. The immigration authorities must obtain approval from the Federal Employment Agency, if possible.


Prerequisites for issuing of a residence permit are:

  • Study at a
    • state or
    • state-recognized higher education institute (university, teacher-training college, college of art, technical college) or
    • comparable educational establishment (for example, Cooperative State University, Baden-Wuerttemberg – formerly: University of Cooperative Education)
  • Study as the main purpose of the stay
    This includes all education phases:
    • Language course or studies foundation course
    • Language examination
    • Work placements to prepare for course of study (if recommended by the college or mandatory)
    • Study (basic study period, advanced study period, internships accompanying course of study, intermediate and final examinations)
    • Supplementary, postgraduate, complementary studies or doctorate
    • Practical activities following a course of study (if they are a mandatory part of the program)
  • Your subsistence (assessment ceiling is the maximum funding rate in accordance with the Federal Education Assistance Act (BAföG)) and health insurance in Germany are assured.
  • You meet the requirements for admission to the relevant educational establishment. You cannot make up the required general schooling prerequisites in Germany.

Responsible department

  • For issuing a national visa prior to entry into the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany: The German diplomatic mission abroad (embassy, consulate)
  • After entry: The immigration authorities in whose district you have your usual residence. The immigration authority is, depending on where you live, either the municipal administration or the district administration.

Tip: You can find a Directory of Diplomatic Missions of the Federal Republic of Germany Abroad on the internet pages of the Federal Foreign Office.


Before entering Germany, you may have to apply for a visa in your own country.

After entry, you must apply for the residence title in writing to the immigration authorities before your visa expires. If you have entered Germany without a visa, you have three months to apply.

As of September 1st, 2011 the residence title is the size of a credit card and it incorporates additional electronic functions. For more information, see "Electronic residence title (eAT) - application".

The immigration authority is, depending on where you live, either the municipal administration or the district administration.

Required documents

  • Certification of the purpose of the stay, for example:
    • Admission to a language course or course of study
    • Certificate of enrollment
    • Proof of study progress
  • Proof of financing, for example:
    • Presentation of income and financial circumstances of parents
    • Payment of a security amount to a blocked account in Germany
    • Scholarship contract
  • Certification of health insurance
  • Passport (valid at least for the duration of the residence permit which has been applied for) – in the case of Swiss nationals, a valid identity card is sufficient
  • Two recent passport photographs


  • Validity of up to one year: 100 Euro
  • Validity of more than one year: 110 Euro
  • Young people aged under 18: half of the fee
  • Persons who, for their stay in Germany, receive a grant from public funds: no fee

Processing time

Four to six weeks


You wish to pursue part of the study course in Germany and have already obtained a residence permit for the purposes of study in a different EU member state: In most cases you will also be granted a residence permit for Germany.

You have a residence permit for other purposes (for example, for family reasons) or a settlement permit: In this case, you can begin a course of study in Germany without any additional residence permit.

During the course of study you may

  • Take employment on up to 90 whole or 180 half days per year or
  • Take temporary student work.

Your course of study must not be significantly delayed as a result of these activities.

On successful completion of your studies, the authority can extend your residence permit by up to one year under specific conditions. During this period you can look for work appropriate to your qualification.

Release note

The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Innenministerium released it on 18.02.2015. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts.

In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.