Who Needs a Student Visa to Enter Germany with Purpose to Study at a German University?
Many international students need to apply for a student visa to pursue educational activities in Germany before they can enter Germany. They must apply for the student visa to a German diplomatic mission in their countries.
If you are an international student applying to study in a degree course at a German university, you really need to understand how the visa system works. As a student at a German university you will receive a residence permit for the period of study. But you can apply for this residence permit only in Germany. Before that you will need to enter Germany. And this is where you might need a student visa to pursue educational activities in Germany that allows you to enter Germany.
Very important to know: if you want to study in Germany do not enter on a tourist visa. The tourist visa cannot be converted into the residence permit.
We’ve compiled a short overview who might need a student visa to enter German and who can enter Germany without additional student visa. For more information about visa requirements, contact the German embassy or German consulate in your home country. You can find the address on the website of the German Federal Foreign Office.
Group 1. Students from the EU countries, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein
If you are an EU-national or from Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, then no need for a student visa. In this case upon entering Germany you’ll need to collect necessary documents (student ID, accommodation proof, insurance, etc.) to apply for the residency permit with the local authorities.
Group 2. Students from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea or the United States.
International student from Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States are permitted to enter Germany without visa. When you are in Germany you will need to collect necessary documents to apply for your residence permit at the Aliens’ Registration Office (Ausländeramt).
Group 3. Students from the rest of the world.
If you come from any other country, you will need to obtain a student visa to enter Germany. You will need to apply for the student visa in your home country. German consulate or embassy in your country has the authority to issue student visas. When you are in Germany and have all necessary documents you will apply for your residence permit at the Aliens’ Registration Office (Ausländeramt).
A side note: specially for students from Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino. You may enter Germany with the educational purpose without visa, but with a very big limitation. In this care you won’t have a permit to work in Germany after obtaining your degree. So if you want to enter German job market after graduation, you will need to enter Germany on student visa.
To summarize: students from several countries (specifically listed above) are permitted to enter Germany without student visa. All other international students must have student visa issued by the German diplomatic mission in their home countries. All international student regardless of country of origin will need to to apply for a residence permit in Germany.