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If you are a national of an EU-country, you do not require a visa for entry into Germany. This regulation applies similarly to nationals of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, San Marino, and the United States.
Foto: Julien Fertl / Bundesagentur für Arbeit
All other foreigners wishing to study do need a visa, namely a "Visum zu Studienzwecken" (student visa). The German missions abroad (embassies and consulates) provide information on the visa requirements which need to be met. Please consult the Auswärtiges Amt for further information.
Stays by students and applicant students from non-EU countries are approved through the issue of a residence permit. This is issued specifically for the purpose of either applying to study, of studying in a degree program or of preparing for higher education studies (e.g. attendance of a language course). The residence permit can be issued for two years to students who are preparing for or are actually engaged in their studies, and for up to a maximum of nine months to students applying for a study place. Students from non-EU countries must apply to the relevant foreigners' registration office (Ausländerbehörde) for the required residence approval within the first three months of their arrival in Germany (entry).
Higher Education Entrance Qualification and Admission
You must hold a higher education entrance qualification to be able to study at a German university:
However, if you are a foreign national and gained your school leaving certificate/higher education entrance qualification in Germany, that is if you are classified as a Bildungsinländer, your application for admission to study in Germany will be treated in the same way as an application by German applicants.
If you are an EU national, your higher education entrance qualification will generally be recognised as equivalent to the respective German qualifications, meaning that the same admissions conditions apply to you as they do to Germans. Besides EU nationals, nationals of the EEA Treaty countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) are also essentially treated on the same basis as German applicants.
Other foreigners must have their higher education entrance qualifications evaluated to determine equivalency with the respective German qualifications (please refer to www.daad.de/deutschland/nach-deutschland/voraussetzungen/en/6017-university-admission-and-requirements). If the qualifications are not adjudged to be equivalent, you have to take the Feststellungsprüfung, a higher education assessment test. In full, the test is called: "Prüfung zur Feststellung der Eignung ausländischer Studienbewerber für die Aufnahme eines Studiums". Preparatory or Foundation Courses (Studienkollegs) are offered which provide applicants with two semesters of preparatory studies leading to the Assessment Test (Feststellungsprüfung). The required language proficiency test is included. However, prospective applicants wishing to be admitted to a Studienkolleg must already have some knowledge of German before they can be accepted. Further information can also be found at www.studienkollegs.de/home.html.
Bildungsinländer and EU nationals as well as nationals from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway should send their applications for a study place to the same addresses as applicants from Germany, that is to the respective university, or, as the case may be, to the Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung - www.hochschulstart.de. Hochschulstart.de is responsible for your admission if you choose to apply for an admissions-restricted (numerus clausus – NC) subject.
All other foreign nationals and stateless persons should submit their applications directly to the University/International Office (Akademisches Auslandsamt) of their choice. The DAAD website offers you the opportunity to download the application form "Antrag auf Zulassung zum Studium" for German universities.
Knowledge of the German language
The necessity to meet the required German proficiency standard represents the first major hurdle for many foreign applicants. If you cannot prove your proficiency in German, you will not generally be admitted to higher education studies. The International Degree Programs are an exception to this rule; they are instructed in English, at least in the first few semesters. You can prove that you have the necessary German language skills required for studying at a German higher education institution by presenting a language certificate, which you can acquire at schools in your home country. You can find information regarding language tests and exams on the website of the Goethe-Institut as well as on the website www.sprachnachweis.de. The German Academic Exchange Service provides further information.
Many applicants would like to prepare for their studies by learning German while they are still in their home country. Oftentimes, however, this is not possible, because no appropriate language courses are available nearby. This is why the Goethe Institute has developed a distance studies program specifically designed to meet these needs. Beginners can learn basic skills, while advanced students can improve their proficiency or prepare for examinations (www.goethe.de/en/index.html).
If you wish to have periods of study or study and examination achievements which you completed outside of Germany credited or recognised, please contact the German university of your choice directly (i.e. the respective department/faculty or its examination committee). Any student wishing to complete a full course of study or even individual study sections in Germany certainly faces a challenge. However, the effort you put in this plan will always be well worth your while. You will enjoy high-quality education and training, will establish interesting and important contacts and in doing so will create a foundation for your personal development as well as for your career goals.