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Studying and education in Germany

School pupils

A separate residence title for the purpose of attending school can generally only be issued for a time-limited school student exchange or to attend an intensive language course that is also of a limited duration, provided the means of subsistence is ensured during the stay (section 16 subs. 5 of the Residence Act), further information: see brochure entitled "Studying and Working in Germany", pages 9 et seq.

Trainees

Third-country nationals can receive a residence permit for the purpose of completing vocational training courses (section 16 subs. 5a of the Residence Act) as well as to undertake in-company basic or further training, also known as dual education (section 17 subs. 1 of the Residence Act). The latter instance requires consent from the Federal Employment Agency, unless the position is one that does not require prior consent.

Possibilities for limited employment are available subject to certain requirements (section 16 subs. 5a and section 17 subs. 2 of the Residence Act), further information: see brochure entitled "Studying and Working in Germany", pages 10 et seq.

Applicants to study

Third-country nationals who wish to study in Germany but have not yet been admitted to a state or state-recognized university can receive a residence permit of up to nine months (section 16 subs. 1a of the Residence Act). This requires proof of qualification for admission, which can be obtained if necessary by taking an entrance examination, further information: see brochure entitled "Studying and Working in Germany", pages 12 et seq.

Students

The German Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) provides for two ways in which students from third countries can obtain a legal residence title in Germany while studying. If you wish to study at a German University only, you may be able to be issued with a residence title for the purpose of studying. This also applies if you will be studying in other EU Member States as well as at the German institution, but will be spending most of your overall EU residence period in Germany.

Should most of your residence period be spent in another EU Member State, you will need to apply for a residence title there under Directive 2016/801/EU. This residence title will permit you to study at a German higher education institution for a specific period (You will find details further below at "Mobility while studying").

display as attention: Please note:

You will need to be in possession of a residence title that has already been issued by another EU Member State under Directive 2016/801/EU in order to exercise mobility for the purpose of studying. Since the directive does not have to be transposed until 23 May 2018, many Member States are not yet issuing any residence titles under the directive. Mobility is not possible in such cases; a normal residence permit for the purpose of studying will have to be applied for in these cases.

Residence title for the purpose of studying

A foreign university student can be issued with a residence permit for the purpose of studying in Germany with a period of validity of at least one and at the most two years (section 16 subs. 2 sentence 1 of the Residence Act). Studying must be the primary purpose of the stay; evening or weekend courses or correspondence courses therefore do not qualify.

Knowledge of the language in which the course of studies is to be conducted is waived under certain conditions (section 16 subs. 1 sentence 4 of the Residence Act). Limited employment as well as spare-time student employment are permitted (section 16 subs. 3 of the Residence Act).

Graduates of German universities are entitled to a settlement permit after as little as two years, subject to certain conditions (section 18b of the Residence Act), further information: see brochure entitled "Studying and Working in Germany", pages 34 et seq.

Mobility

The rules on mobility within the EU applying to third-country nationals coming to the EU for the purpose of studying have been eased. This means that if you have already been issued with a residence title under the Directive on conditions of entry and residence (Directive 2016/801/EU) in another EU Member State, you may come to Germany and study here without applying for a German residence title. This is contingent on residence for the purpose of studying being for a maximum of 360 days.

In order to be able to exercise mobility in Germany, the host higher education institution in Germany needs to send a notification to the National Contact Point at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

Information on the notification:

If a student is to come to Germany within the mobility mechanism, the host higher education institution needs to send an appropriate notification to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. In order to do so, the notification form (see Download in the right-hand column [only available in German]) must be completed in full and digitally. Additionally, digital copies of the following documents need to be submitted together with the form:

  • the residence permit issued by the first EU Member State,
  • a recognised, valid passport/replacement passport,
  • evidence of participation in a Union or multilateral programme incorporating mobility measures and of the validity of an agreement between two or more higher education institutions,
  • proof of admission to the host higher education institution, and
  • proof of subsistence.

The notification form is forwarded via the BSCW server. You will find more information on registration and transmission in the right-hand column (only available in German).

Third-country nationals who have been issued with a residence permit in Germany in accordance with section 16 of the Residence Act may in turn exercise mobility in other EU Member States in which the Directive on conditions of entry and residence has also already been transposed, and may study at a higher education institution there. Some Member States require a separate notification for this which is to be made to the authorities with individual responsibility; an overview of the procedures in other Member States will be made available on this page soon.

Date 28 July 2017