Europe is one of the most diverse continents in the world – and one of the most compact. Within hours you can travel from France to Spain, Italy to Denmark, Turkey to Germany. Europe is also home to some of the most beautiful places to study, like Paris, Rome, Copenhagen and Barcelona. In Germany there are at present some 312 state and state-recognised higher education institutions divided into three types. There are two semesters each academic year. The standard study period in which a degree programme can be completed is at least eight to ten semesters at universities and at Fachhochschulen six semesters, or eight semesters for degree programmes with integrated practical semesters. The oldest university in Germany was founded in Heidelberg in 1386. There are more than 300 institutions of higher education located all over Germany including: 82 Universities; 132 Fachhochschulen (offering shorter and more practically-orientated courses) and 46 colleges of music and fine arts.
If you wish to take up studies in Germany, you will need to apply for a student visa for entry (residence permit in the form of a visa). A visa is absolutely necessary under the immigration laws there.
Student Visa for Germany
The only exceptions are for applicants from European Union countries and from States with which special agreements have been made: Honduras, Iceland, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the USA. It is not permissible to enter the country on a tourist visa for the purpose of studying here. Those wishing to enter the country to study may apply for a visa for purposes of study, or for a study applicant visa. The visa must be issued before you can enter the country; you should therefore apply for it in good time. The responsible body is the German Embassy or Consulate General in your country, which can also provide you with further information. The visa for purposes of study will be issued if you have already been accepted to study in Germany. The study applicant visa (Studienbewerber-Visum) permits you to enter the country before the admission decision by the university or college, in order to obtain information on the spot. The university applicant visa is particularly important for applicants to the Hochschule für Musik and Theater (College of Music and Drama), so that you can enter the country for the entrance examination. This type of visa may also be useful to applicants who wish to improve their language skills in Germany before starting their studies. The study applicant visa is limited to three months, but it can be converted to a visa for study purposes if you receive your admission from the university or college during this period. For both types of visas it is necessary to hold a valid passport, to provide proof of financial means for your period of study in Germany, and to have either university admission (visa for purposes of study) or at least a confirmation of your status as an applicant (study applicant visa). Those who intend to study and enter the country on a study applicant visa should also note that they must provide evidence of a university or college place in Germany within the prescribed period of three months, in order to obtain a residence permit for study purposes. Applying for Visas for Academic Studies or Language Courses in Germany In order to receive your visa in good time, please note the following three points:
- Submit your application with all accompanying documents at least eight weeks before your planned trip to Germany;
- Fill in the application form and bring it with the complete set of documents to the Embassy;
- Should you have any queries, please contact the Cultural Section at the Embassy in Singapore, which is responsible for your area.
You may be issued with one of three types of visa: 1) student applicant visa (if you do not yet have a certificate of admission to higher education or of confirmation of application); 2) student visa (if you have a certificate of admission to higher education or of confirmation of application); 3) visa for participation in a language course (if you only wish to attend a language course in Germany).
NOTE: If you intend to begin studies in Germany immediately after your language course ends, you must apply for either a student visa or a student applicant visa before arrival in Germany, otherwise you will have to leave Germany at the end of the course and reapply from Singapore.
The visa for a language course cannot be converted into a student visa or a student applicant visa in Germany! 1) For the student applicant visa you will need the following basic documents:
- a valid passport and 2 passport photographs;
- proof of possession of a school leaving certificate, i.e. A-level certificate, entitling you to study in both Singapore and Germany (or to visit a preparatory course in Germany) as well as, where necessary
- proof of previous studies;
- proof that you already possess German-language skills or that you plan to attend an intensive language course (at least 20 hours per week) in Germany;
- proof of sufficient funds tofinance your period of study.
You may either
- a) finance yourself or
- b) nominate one or more persons who will assume the full costs.
You must supply evidence that sufficient funds per months or a sum covering at least one year’s study are available (e.g. own funds) equal to the highest German student loan level (BaföG), i.e. currently about DM 1,000 per month.
NOTE: As a student in Germany you may as a rule work for a maximum of 3 months and, depending on where you study, only during recess periods (e.g. semester holidays).
(1) If you are financed by a sponsor in your home country, that person must declare his/her willingness to cover all your costs during the standard period of study (proof of a minimum monthly income of 4,000 S$ (by means of local documents such as tax receipts, bank statements, certificates of employment, pay slips, Commercial Register excerpts).
(2) If you are financed by a sponsor in Germany, that person must submit a binding declaration that he/she is willing to cover all your costs during the standard period of study.
(3) If you receive a scholarship you must produce a letter of confirmation to this effect. In all cases it must be certain that you will have a monthly sum available to you directly in Germany. 2) For the student visa you will in principle need all documents listed under 1) above, except that – instead of the school leaving certificate, i.e. A-level certificate, you must enclose the certificate of admission to higher education or of confirmation of application.
NOTE: You may normally only send for your family later to live with you in Germany in exceptional cases, e.g. if you are scholarship holder or on a postgraduate course.
In these cases you must be able at least to support yourself and your family, have sufficient accomodation for your family, and already be registered at a German higher education institution.
Please take your time and do not hesitate to contact the Cultural and Consular Sections of your local Embassy for further detailed advice on any questions you may have regarding your planned studies in Germany.
3) For the visa for participation in a language course you will basically need the following documents:
- a valid passport and 2 passport photographs
- proof that you have registered for a language course (e.g. certificate of registration, receipt of course fees)
- proof that you will be covered by health insurance for the duration of your stay in Germany
- proof that you are able to finance your stay and the course (using your own funds or via third parties).
- During the language course you are normally not allowed to take up employment.
- If you intend to study in Germany after your course ends, please state this fact in your application, so that you can be issued with a student applicant visa or student visa, provided you fulfil the conditions for issue. These visas entitle the holder to attend language courses and to study in Germany (see above!). If you only apply for the language course visa, you will have to leave Germany at the end of the course. It is not possible to exchange this visa for another form of residence permit in Germany.
- Examination of your application will normally require approximately 6 – 8 weeks. If the language course is longer than three months, processing of your application will require about 8 – 10 weeks. Therefore please send your application to the Consular Section in good time, i.e. at least eight weeks before you plan to travel!
Should you intend to travel to Germany with your family, please contact the Cultural or Consular Section of your local Embassy.
There is no legal right to a visa, even if all documents are submitted. The ultimate decision rests with the Legal and Consular Sections of the Embassy. You may be asked to supply further documentation.