The following section will point out the requirements international students need to fulfil in order to obtain National Visas (Residence Permits) for stays in Germany for study purposes that exceed 90 days in 6 months.
International students must apply for National Visas (Residence Permits) for study purposes at the relevant embassy before entering the country (exemptions see below).
To find out whether you need a National Visa (Residence Permit), please visit the website of the German Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt). Exemptions apply to nationals of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland. Furthermore, nationals of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, and the United States of America may obtain a National Visa (Residence Permit) that will be issued after entering Germany.
Visa applications must be approved by the relevant Immigration Office in Germany (Ausländerbehörde), i.e. the Immigration Office in the city where the applicant intends to take up residence. Visa application forms for a stay in Germany that exceeds 90 days in 6 months can be obtained from the relevant embassy free of charge. They can also be downloaded at the website of the German Federal Foreign Office (German, English, French, Italian).
Do apply for a National Visa (Residence Permit) for study purposes.
Do *not* apply for a Schengen Visa (Visit or Tourist Visa, Business Visa)!
In German: www.auswaertiges-amt.de → Willkommen in Deutschland → Einreise und Aufenthalt → Visabestimmungen → "Antragsformular für Aufenthaltserlaubnis" in der jeweiligen Sprache auswählen
Original versions of the visa application forms must be submitted in the appropriate language of the embassy in question (at least two sets). Please contact the embassy beforehand to find out exactly which forms are required.
The approval procedure usually takes up to three months, in some cases longer, since the Immigration Office will often consult other authorities (e.g. Federal Employment Agency, Bundesanstalt für Arbeit). Embassies may issue visas only after they have obtained the approval of the Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde).
The Immigration Offices (Ausländerbehörden) are responsible for measures and decisions pertaining to residence law for foreigners already residing in Germany. Immigration Offices are not subordinate agencies of the Federal Foreign Office, and, hence, the Federal Foreign Office cannot influence their decisions. The Immigration Offices are in fact accountable to and operate under the supervision of the respective Ministry of the Interior and Senate of the federal states (Bundesländer).
The website of the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD) also offers a wealth of information to answer questions you may have about entering Germany.
Please find further information here: