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Residence permit; Application for the purpose of pursuing university studies

Although it is possible for a foreign national to stay in Germany for the purpose of pursuing studies at a state-accredited university or comparable instititution of higher education, there is no legal entitlement to this. After the successful completion of university studies, foreign graduates will be given the opportunity to enter into employment commensurate with their academic degree in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany.


Any foreign national wishing to commence university studies in Germany is first required to meet the general prerequisites for issuance of a residence title. Pursuant to Article 5 Para. 1 of the German Residence Act (AufenthG), these prerequisites include:

  • guaranteed means of subsistence;
  • the foreign national's identity and nationality must have been clarified,
  • no grounds for expulsion must exist, and
  • the foreign national's stay in Germany must not compromise or jeopardize the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany for any other reason.

As a general rule, it is also mandatory to comply with the regulations under visa law.

The foreign national may pursue his or her studies at state or state-accredited colleges or universities (universities, teacher training colleges, art colleges, or universities of applied sciences) or at comparable educational institutions at universities of cooperative education, or at state or state-accredited preparatory colleges.

The foreign national's university studies must constitute the main purpose for his or her stay in Germany. These requirements are not met e.g. by evening courses, weekend courses, or a correspondence course.

University studies as purpose of stay are deemed to comprise all educational phases related to the degree program. This includes the following, depending on the individual case:

  • Language courses, notably if serving for study preparation,
  • Attendance of preparatory colleges or other types of government-funded  university preparatory measures,
  • Internships required for the university studies or recommended by the university or college,
  • Undergraduate programs up to the first academic degree qualifying for employment completed at a German university (undergraduate and graduate program including course-related internships, mid-term and final exams), even following prior university studies abroad,
  • postgraduate studies, double-degree courses, or complementary studies (postgraduate programs) or doctoral programs following university studies, and
  • subsequent practical activities, provided these activities are part of the mandatory educational course or serve for the general achievement of the educational objective.

It is not possible in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany to obtain or catch up on the educational prerequisites required for university enrolment. After commencing their academic studies, foreign students coming from countries outside of the European Economic Area are generally allowed to work a maximum of 120 days or 240 half-days per calendar year. However, this provision does not apply to the term of a language course for university preparation, during the first year of the foreign student's stay.

Students already in possession of a student residence title for the purpose of academic studies in another EU Member State will be granted a residence permit if they are required to complete a part of their university studies at an educational institution in Germany within the scope of their degree program.
On the other hand, foreign students attending university in Germany will be granted a residence permit in another EU Member State if the foreign student wishes to complete his or her university studies in that other state within the scope of an exchange program of the European Union, or if the foreign student has already been admitted to university in another EU Member State for the duration of at least two (2) years.

The residence permit entitles foreign students only to an applied-for and granted study program. It will normally be renewed as soon as proof of adequate means for subsistence during this period is presented, and provided the proscribed duration of study is not exceeded. The authorities will normally proceed on the assumption that a foreign student's university studies are in compliance with the rules if he or she does not exceed the average duration of study at the respective university and in the respective degree program by more than three (3) semesters. Changing of degree programs or changing of disciplines will be possible only under very limited circumstances.

After successfully completing his or her university studies, every university graduate is given the opportunity to look for a job commensurate with his or her qualifications and to remain in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany for another 18 months for this purpose.


Entering Germany for the purpose if pursuing university studies generally requires an entitling visa issued by the German diplomatic representation (see "Related Issues" - "National Visa; Issuing and Renewal").

In addition to satisfying the university entrance requirements, the issuing and renewal of a residence permit by the Aliens Department will also require the applicant to supply evidence of adequate means to make a living, including adequate medical insurance coverage. For further information please go to "Related Issues" - "Residence Permit; Issuing and Renewal".

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Status: 26.01.2016

Responsible for editing: Bayerisches Staatsministerium des Innern, für Bau und Verkehr

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