Charles Nuamah is a student from Ghana currently studying abroad in Germany.
I remember the first time I made up my mind to study in Germany. There were a lot of questions running through my mind. Unluckily for me, I had no one to answer these questions and had to find out the answers myself. Most of the answers came to me through thorough research. Others, I had to learn through bitter experiences which cost me valuable time and money. I was surprised at how much false information was on the web when I finally went through the entire process and made it to Germany as a student. So I decided to take it upon myself to provide correct and detailed information so students can make a smooth transition from their home countries to Germany.
Who better to answer a question about studying in Germany than someone who started from scratch and was able to make it to Germany as a student? I believe I have a better insight into the minds of prospective students. I understand what sort of answers they seek when they want to study in Germany since I was once in their shoes. I hope these answers will save students some time that they could have used researching and also prevent them from repeating the same mistakes that I did.
Table of Contents
- Is studying in Germany really worth it as compared to other countries like US and UK?
- Is education really free in Germany?
- What are semester fees and contributions?
- Does Germany offer English-taught programmes?
- Are there bachelor’s programmes taught completely in English in Germany or is it only masters?
- How difficult is it to get admission to a German University?
- How reputable are German universities?
- What are TU9 universities in Germany?
- How difficult is the German Educational system?
- What is the difference between Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences?
- Are there scholarships available at German universities?
- Are there any age limits to applying to undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Germany?
- What are the typical times to apply for admission to German universities and their deadlines?
- How do I convert my grades to the German grading system?
- Do German universities recognize credit transfer from previous universities?
- What happens if I fail at a German university?
- What is ‘Studienkolleg’?
- What is Abitur?
- Can I study in German language as an international student?
- What level of knowledge of the German language do I need in order to attend a ‘Studienkolleg’?
- Do I need to show some proof of German if my program is taught completely in English?
- Is GRE and IELTS or TOEFL mandatory for master’s programs in Germany?
- I keep hearing of Uni-assist. What is this?
- How do I apply for PhD in Germany?
- What qualification do I need in order to be admitted to a PhD programme in Germany?
- What types of PhDs are available in Germany?
- Can I stay in Germany after completing my studies?
- How do I apply for a German student visa?
- What is the difference between a language visa and a student visa?
- What are the typical documents for student visa application?
- What are the ways to prove financial support at the German embassy?
- What is a blocked account?
- How do I open a blocked account?
- What happens to my money in my blocked account if my visa ends up getting refused?
- Is the interview at the German Embassy tough?
- What is health insurance in Germany and why do students require it?
- What documents do I need for enrolment at my university once I arrive in Germany?
- How do I apply for and extend my residence permit once in Germany?
- Why was my German student visa rejected?
- What do I do if my student visa ends up getting rejected?
- What are some of the likely challenges I might encounter as an international student in Germany?
- Would I be allowed to work while studying in Germany?
- Can I find a part time job in Germany and how much can I earn?
- My spouse plans to accompany me to Germany. Would he or she be allowed to work?
- Will I be liable to pay taxes in Germany?
- Can I bring my wife or children to Germany while studying there?
- What exactly is a Studentenwerk?
- Can I do a “Dual Studium” as a foreigner?
- Will my driver’s license be valid in Germany?
- How can I find accommodation once I arrive in Germany?
1) Is studying in Germany really worth it as compared to other countries like US and UK?
Germany, UK and USA are all equally developed nations which provide great infrastructure and opportunities to foreign students. Obviously, countries like the USA, Canada, and the UK are English speaking countries whilst Germany is not. It all boils down to if you are prepared to learn a new language. Even though most Germans understand English, they will prefer you speak German. You will need to attain a certain level of German if you plan to live and work in Germany. If you are not prepared to sacrifice to learn a difficult language like German, then Germany is probably not for you.
2) Is education really free in Germany?
Yes. Germany is among the few countries worldwide that do not charge tuition fees to both domestic and international students. Students are only required to pay semester fees and contributions which rarely exceed 400 euros. Unfortunately, the state of Baden-Württemberg started charging tuition fees of around 1500 euros to non-EU students from autumn 2017. Other German States like North-Rhine Westphalia are also considering introducing tuition. Prospective international students should take advantage of this tuition-free period because you never know when it might end.
3) What are semester fees and contributions?
Even though most German universities do not charge tuition fees, students are subject to a student body and social contribution fee which rarely exceeds 400 euros. The social contribution is used to finance the semester ticket, which is a public transportation pass valid for most bus and train lines running in the State where you will be studying. The Semester Ticket provides a range of mobility options to students at an otherwise unbeatable price.
4) Does Germany offer English-taught programmes?
Most people assume because English is not the official language in Germany, degree programmes in Germany must all automatically be in German. However, this is not the case. There are over 800 master’s and bachelor’s programmes in Germany that are taught completely in English. You can find most of these programmes by visiting the DAAD website.
5) Are there bachelor’s programmes taught completely in English in Germany or is it only masters?
Yes. Germany has over 100 bachelor’s programmes in English in various fields. To qualify to study at the undergraduate level you need the Abitur. The Abitur in most cases is not equivalent to the high school diploma from most countries. It is usually the equivalence of the high school diploma, plus one or two years of study at an accredited university. Be sure to inquire from the university you wish to apply to, whether the high school certificate from your country is equal to the Abitur. You can also visit anabin, which contains information on foreign institutions and academic qualifications. Please note that this site is available only in German.
6) How difficult is it to get admission to a German University?
Admission to German universities is getting competitive every year. With the decision of Finland and Sweden to introduce tuition fees to international students, that means Germany is one of the few countries left that still offer tuition-free privileges to foreign students. German universities as such receive numerous applications from students from all over the globe who want to gain access to this tuition-free education. Universities are getting stricter and stricter every year with their selection process as they are only a few seats available. However, if you have excellent grades then you have nothing to worry about. Most German universities base a huge part of their admission decision on the grades you received from your previous studies.
7) How reputable are German universities?
Some people feel it’s not worth studying in Germany because their universities are not highly ranked like those in the US and UK. However, you can look at it in this light. In the US and UK, there are around 20 universities (most are private and very expensive) which are household names. They have a few thousand others that offer good education but aren’t household names like MIT, Havard and Cambridge. You can also find universities where you can just hang out and party for 4 years and get a certificate for it, to places that absolutely just try to rip you off, or are run by religious zealots and still somehow maintain accreditation.
In Germany, if you go to a public university, you'll receive a quality, rigorous, and affordable education, no matter what the national or international rankings may say. Most public universities are funded by the state and thus maintain a high level of standard. German universities also do not rely on tuition fees from students and so they are under no pressure to pass them. Professors don’t care to fail an entire class as long as there is nothing wrong with the questions.
8) What are TU9 universities in Germany?
TU9 is the alliance of leading Institutes of Technology in Germany: RWTH Aachen University, TU Berlin, TU Braunschweig, TU Darmstadt, TU Dresden, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, TU München, University of Stuttgart.
The TU9 Universities are excellent in research: According to the Federal Statistical Office, TU9 members attract a fourth of all third-party funding. In the DFG ranking for research funding in engineering, the TU9 Universities are to be found in the top groups. Nationwide 57 percent of all doctorates in engineering are awarded at TU9 Universities.
Furthermore, TU9 Universities were very successful in the German government's Excellence Initiative. RWTH Aachen University (2012, 2007), TU Dresden (2012), Universität Karlsruhe (TH) (now Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 2006) and TU München (2012, 2007) were awarded the status of “University of Excellence”.
9) How difficult is the German Educational system?
The initial difficulty that students encounter in Germany is trying to understand the system, the exam pattern, and what professors look for in a student during an examination.
Lectures are usually conceptual. The concepts of the subjects will be introduced to you. You will normally get the scripts or notes from the professors but you cannot rely solely on these scripts to pass examinations. Questions asked during examinations are more application oriented. Just knowing the concept is not enough. You need to know the subjects well enough to be able to apply the concepts to real-life problems.
10) What is the difference between Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences?
In short, Universities of Applied Sciences or Fachhochschules are practically oriented whereas Universities are research oriented. Almost all Universities of Applied Sciences have a compulsory practical semester which students must undertake. Another important point is that doctorate degrees are usually offered only by Universities although some Fachhochschules have been legally allowed to offer doctorate degrees in conjunction with a partner university or a research institute.
11) Are there scholarships available at German universities?
German universities do not generally charge tuition fees and that in itself is a form of scholarship. However, they do provide some funds which cater for the living expenses of students since the cost of living is quite high in Germany. You can find more information about the various scholarships by visiting the scholarship database of DAAD.
12) Are there any age limits to applying to undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Germany?
No, there is no age limit to applying to study programs in Germany. In fact, Germany is known to have a reputation for having the continent's oldest graduates - on average 28 years old.
13) What are the typical times to apply for admission to German universities and their deadlines?
Most German universities have two main application periods. One is in the summer semester and the other is in the winter semester. The summer semester usually starts around April 1 and students are required to submit their applications by January 15 since it can take quite some time between receiving your admission letter and processing your student visa. The winter semester usually starts around October 1 and students are usually required to submit their applications latest by July 15.
14) How do I convert my grades to the German grading system?
You should use the following equation if your bachelor's degree was obtained in a country other than Germany.
GR = 3 * [(GRmax - GRd) / (GRmax - GRmin)] + 1
GR = the GPA you're looking for, converted GPA (German)
GRmax = highest possible grade in the non-German grading system, expressed in numbers
GRd = grade earned in the non-German grading system.
GRmin = lowest possible passing grade in the non-German grading system (i.e. the lowest possible grade that would still allow you to pass the course)
Please, after you have obtained your converted GPA (German), round it to one decimal place.
- If the system works with percentage, please just use the number without the % sign in the equation.
- If the system works with letters, please just convert the letters into numbers.
A = 5
B = 4
C = 3
D = 2
E = 1
F = 0 (fail)
GRmax = 5
GRmin = last grade to pass = 1
GRd = your grade point average, e.g.
A+A+B+C = 5+5+4+3 = 17
GRd = 17:4 = 4.25
The resulting equation would be:
GR = 3 * [(5 - 4.25) / (5 - 1)] + 1 = 3 * 0.75/4 + 1 = 0.562 + 1 = 1.562
--> Rounding to one decimal place --> your "new" GPA would be 1.6
Please keep in mind: The German system recognizes grades from 1.0 (best)
to 4.0 (lowest possible passing grade) - so the result should be within this range.
15) Do German universities recognize credit transfer from previous universities?
Prior periods of study and related examinations and coursework, which were completed in an identical programme of study (full or partial) at a university that is subject to the Basic Law of Germany, shall be recognised officially and fully without an equivalence assessment. A “period of study” is defined as any evaluated and documented component of a degree programme at a German university, which, while not equivalent to a full programme of study, nevertheless constitutes a significant acquisition of knowledge or skill.
16) What happens if I fail at a German university?
In most German universities, you usually have 3 chances for each exam. After failing the third time, you have to leave the university and you can never study anything related to your study program. Failing a paper might mean two things. One is sitting down for a paper and actually failing it. The second is not showing up for an exam without a suitable excuse. An example of a suitable excuse is being sick.
17) What is ‘Studienkolleg’?
It is a one-year preparatory course which has to be joined by individual candidates who wish to study at a German higher education institution but whose school leaving diploma is deemed insufficient to apply for a degree program.
The course covers full-time education in the subjects of a degree program as well as the German language, for five days a week. A passing score on the final Assessment Examination qualifies you to apply for a degree program that is suitable for you at any German university.
18) What is Abitur?
Abitur is a university-preparatory school leaving qualification conferred to students who pass their final exams at the end of their secondary education, usually after twelve or thirteen years of schooling. As a matriculation examination, Abitur can be compared to A-level, Matura or the International Baccalaureate Diploma, which are all ranked as level 4 in the European Qualifications Framework. The high school diploma from most countries is usually not equivalent to the German Abitur. You should therefore check with your university if the high school diploma from your country is the equivalence of the Abitur.
19) Can I study in German language as an international student?
Yes. There is no restriction on the language of study for international students. Of course, if you would like to study in German, then your German language should be very good. Most German taught programs require a minimum of B2 and prefer C1 to ensure smooth studies.
20) What level of knowledge of the German language do I need in order to attend a ‘Studienkolleg’?
You should have a minimum German language level of B1 in order to be admitted to ‘Studienkolleg’.
21) Do I need to show some proof of German if my program is taught completely in English?
If your course is taught completely in English, then there is no need to show any proof of German language. However, it is advisable to have some basic knowledge of German to allow you cope with everyday life in Germany.
22) Is GRE and IELTS or TOEFL mandatory for master’s programs in Germany?
Most German universities do not place much emphasis on GRE scores. There are few universities that will request you have a particular score in the GRE but generally, most German universities do not really consider GRE scores. They rather place a huge emphasis on your previous academic records. Most German universities base 80% of the admission decision on previous academic records and the remaining 20% on other factors like your motivation letter and work experience.
If you are from a native English speaking countries like USA, Canada or Australia, then there is no need to write IELTS or TOEFL. There are some universities who would waive these tests if your bachelor’s degree was in English but they are very few. Most German universities will insist you provide them with IELTS or TOEFL if your program of study is in English. It is therefore advisable for students who want to study in Germany to write IELTS or TOEFL just to be on the safe side. Some Embassies might also request for IELTS or TOEFL scores if your program is in English. Most universities require an overall minimum of 6 in IELTS Academic and a minimum TOEFL score of 80( internet based)
23) I keep hearing of Uni-assist. What is this?
Uni-assist checks if your document fulfils the general requirements for a university course of study in Germany. Uni-assist performs this preliminary check on behalf of all its universities. For this purpose, you send uni-assist all the documents requested by the university in question. Uni-assist will usually require you to pay the costs for the preliminary check performed on your documents.
24) How do I apply for PhD in Germany?
If you have a degree that qualifies you for a doctoral program in Germany, you first need to find an academic supervisor/mentor (the “Doktorvater” or “Doktormutter” in German), who will guide you through the research phase leading to the writing of your dissertation.
There are a whole lot of ways of finding an academic supervisor in Germany. One way is through personal contacts your professors may have in Germany. Another way is through online research of various scientific publications.
Once you find an academic supervisor, you have to enrol at a university program for several semesters, where you will gain scientific experience and also get to work as an assistant, all the while researching and writing your dissertation.
25) What qualification do I need in order to be admitted to a PhD programme in Germany?
The most important formal qualification for beginning a PhD in Germany is a very good higher education degree that is recognised in Germany. Generally, a minimum of eight semesters of academic study is required, and the degree must be equivalent to a German Master. Decisions on the recognition of earlier periods of study lie solely with the individual German higher education institution. You can also be admitted to the so called fast track program if you have a bachelors degree. However, you need to be extremely talented to make it into this program.
26) What types of PhDs are available in Germany?
There are two types of PhDs available in Germany. The first type is the individual doctorate. It is the most popular type of PhD. You will be required to work independently and will produce your dissertation under the supervision of a professor. You will have a great deal of flexibility with this option but it demands a high level of personal discipline from your part. The second type is the structured PhD programs. Here, doctoral students work in groups and are guided by a group of supervisors.
27) Can I stay in Germany after completing my studies?
Yes. Students are given 18 months to find a job in a field closely related to what they studied in after completing their studies. Your stay in Germany is dependent on your ability to secure a job in a relevant field within these 18 months.
28) How do I apply for a German student visa?
The first and probably the most important document you need to apply for a student visa is an admission letter. This is to provide proof that you have been admitted to a German university. You can visit the website of the German embassy of your country and take a look at their student visa requirements as this differs from country to country. Most Embassies require students to open a blocked account to show proof of finance.
29) What is the difference between a language visa and a student visa?
A student visa is issued if you have applied for a study course at a German university and having received the admission letter. A language course visa, on the other hand, is issued if you wish to do a language course in Germany. It should be noted that a language course visa cannot be converted into a student visa in Germany. Also, If you attend a language course the regulations are stricter than for normal enrolled students. You are only allowed to work with the approval of the Aliens Department and the Employment Agency - and only during the lecture-free time.
30) What are the typical documents for student visa application?
The following documents are generally requested in most student visa applications:
- passport pictures
- birth certificate
- admission letter
- transcripts and university degrees earned
- proof of previous and current employment, internships, practical attachments
- motivation letter
- sponsor’s passport, information/proof on relation to sponsor, a motivation of sponsorship
- proof of adequate financial means to cover the university fees, housing, the cost of living and other expenses, 853 euros (from 1 January 2020) for every month of the first academic year.
31) What are the ways to prove financial support at the German embassy?
Students need to be financially sound to survive in Germany. The German embassy places a huge emphasis on the financial capability of students. There are 3 main ways students can prove sufficient financial means.
The first and most common one is through the opening of a blocked account. Students are expected to fund this account with 10,236 euros every year for the duration of their studies.
The second is the formal obligation according to §§ 66 to 68 of the German Residence Act (signed by a person living in Germany at the local immigration office in Germany and confirmed by the immigration office). The formal obligation should specifically state that the sponsorship covers studies and mention the duration of the intended sponsorship. The formal obligation is only suited as an adequate proof of finance with the remark “Die finanzielle Leistungsfähigkeit des/der Verpflichtungserklärenden wurde nachgewiesen.” (The financial capability of the sponsor has been verified)
The third is through scholarships from German public funds or by scholarships financed by an organisation that promotes education and is approved in Germany. Scholarships from the public funds of the applicant’s country of origin are also accepted.
32) What is a blocked account?
A blocked account is exactly what the name implies. It is an account that limits the amount of money you can withdraw at a given point in time. The German Embassy has estimated the average cost of living for students to be around 853 euros per month. To make sure students don’t run into any financial burden once in Germany, one of the ways to show financial proof is through the opening of a blocked account. Students are required to open an account in Germany and transfer 10,236 euros into it. Once they arrive in Germany, they can be able to gain access to this account. They can however not withdraw more than 853 euros per month from this account.
33) How do I open a blocked account?
You can only open a blocked once you have gotten an admission letter. Some Embassies require you to open the blocked account before the interview. Others will tell you not to open the blocked account until you have completed your interview. The German Embassy collaborates mainly with Deutsche Bank for the opening of blocked accounts. However, recently, it has started collaborating with other banks such as Ecobank. Since Deutsche Bank is the most widely recognised bank for opening of blocked accounts in Germany, that is what we would be dealing with it.
The first step in opening a blocked account is to take the following documents to the embassy and have them certified:
- Completed application form for opening a blocked bank account from the official website of Deutsche Bank
- Valid passport
- A copy of the course admission letter from your university/language school
- A prepaid envelope (from a private service provider such as FedEx, DHL or UPS)
The completed, certified and signed application form will be sent to the following address by a German embassy/consulate:
Deutsche Bank Privat- und Geschäftskunden AG Alter Wall 53 20457 Hamburg Germany
After the account has been opened, you have to transfer the minimum balance and service fee to your new account at Deutsche Bank. Deutsche bank will send your IBAN and BIC to your e-mail address or your registered postal address once the account has successfully been opened.
As soon as the money has been received, you will automatically be informed by e-mail.
Following your arrival in Germany, please visit a branch of Deutsche Bank and fill in a service order (application to activate the blocked account for foreign students). Take a valid passport with you to the branch.
34) What happens to my money in my blocked account if my visa ends up getting refused?
If you are not granted a visa to enter Germany, Deutsche bank will need the following documents to transfer the balance back to you:
- Lifting of the block by the beneficiary of the blocked account or original letter stating that your visa application was unsuccessful.
- Signed application to close the account (must be completed in full and signed)
Please send these original documents (an e-mail or fax is not acceptable) to the following address: Deutsche Bank Privat- und Geschäftskunden AG Alter Wall 53 20457 Hamburg Germany.
35) Is the interview at the German Embassy tough?
The visa interview always seems to be the scariest part of the visa process for students but this shouldn’t be the case. The fact that your university has offered you admission means they believe you are in good academic standing to pursue your desired program. The main aim of the visa interview is to confirm whether you are in the right state of mind and are motivated enough to study in Germany. Being academically sound is only a small fraction of the total package that students should possess in order to succeed abroad. You can find out more about the likely student visa interview questions with answers by clicking here.
36) What is health insurance in Germany and why do students require it?
In Germany, you will usually not get a residence permit without proof of adequate insurance. Health insurance is mandatory for all students in Germany, so you will not be able to start working or studying without it. Since 1 January 2009, anyone resident in Germany is required to possess health insurance cover from a provider licensed in Germany.
The health insurance is usually paid on a monthly basis. For students, you will need to register and provide your bank account details to your health insurance company once you arrive in Germany. Universities usually assist students with this during the enrollment process. Your health insurance company will then withdraw a specified amount of money from your bank account every month.
37) What documents do I need for enrolment at my university once I arrive in Germany?
The following documents are usually needed for enrollment:
- your notification of admission
- proof of valid health insurance (your university will assist you in getting this)
- your passport with valid visa and passport pictures
- original documents you used in your application like transcripts and bachelors certificates
- receipt of payment of semester contribution fees
38) How do I apply for and extend my residence permit once in Germany?
The German Embassy usually gives students a 3 months visa. Once students arrive in Germany, they are expected to apply for a residence permit with the respective Immigration Office responsible for their country. The first and most important step that students need to undertake once they arrive in Germany is to register their address with the Citizens´ Services Office (Bürgerservice/Einwohnermeldeamt). Typically, their personal data will be transferred to the Immigration Office within a few days after registration.
Some immigration offices initially give students a two-year residence permit. Others give students a one-year residence permit. It is essential that you always have a valid residence permit during your stay in Germany. As a rule, this permit can be extended as long as your purpose of stay is still valid. Most immigration offices require you to show 10,236 euros (from 1 January 2020) in a blocked account in order to have your permit extended again. Others will accept your work contract and monthly payslips if you are successful in securing a part-time job. Depending on the amount of money you earn from your part-time work as a student, you might still have to show a certain amount of money in your blocked account. For instance, if you earn 450 euros per month, you will be required to show 4836 euros in a blocked account in addition to your work contract and payslips in order to have your residence permit extended.
39) Why was my German student visa rejected?
It can be really frustrating if your student visa gets rejected. However, students need to understand that there is no guarantee you will be granted a visa even if every aspect of your application is perfect. The most common reasons that cause the visas of students to be rejected are poor financial status, insufficient language level, poor academic profile, inconsistency with your choice of your study program, and lack of preparation for your interview. You can get an in-depth explanation of the various reasons for rejection of German student visas by clicking here.
40) What do I do if my student visa ends up getting rejected?
There are two options you can take. You can either appeal or reapply. If you think the refusal decision was not fair and your circumstances merit reconsideration. Then you can go ahead and appeal the decision. If however, you believe you stand a better chance now than the last time you were denied because of change in your circumstances which may be that you have applied for a new study program, improved your IELTS score, or have adequately prepared for the interview this time around, then it’s best to reapply.
41) What are some of the likely challenges I might encounter as an international student in Germany?
Studying in Germany is not all rosy as most educational consultancies portray it to be. These consultancies present Germany to students as a country with streets of gold where they can be assured of a perfect life. With these lies in their heads, students become shocked and frustrated when they come to terms with the realities on the ground. Such frustration has even led some students to commit suicide. Some of the common problems you are likely to encounter in Germany are the language barrier, problem securing accommodation, performance demand from your study course, problem securing part-time jobs, and problems adjusting to the German educational system and culture.
42) Would I be allowed to work while studying in Germany?
International students who do not come from the EU or EEA are allowed to work 120 full or 240 half days in a year. If you want to work more than 120 full or 240 half days, you need the approval of the Employment Agency and the Aliens Department.
The legally allowed number of working days (half days) for foreign students also includes voluntary work placements, regardless of whether the placement is paid or unpaid. Also, foreign students face an additional restriction: while working the legally allowed number of days (or half days), they cannot be self-employed or work on a freelance basis.
43) Can I find a part time job in Germany and how much can I earn?
Most prospective students are really concerned if they can be able to find a part-time job to support themselves. There is no sure answer to this question as it depends on a whole range of factors. The first and probably the most important factor is your ability to speak good German. It will be very difficult to secure a job if you don’t speak any German. Another important factor is the city where you live. If your school is located in a big city like Berlin, then there is a high chance you might find something as compared to a smaller town. Don’t expect to earn much as a student unless you want to forfeit your studies which can get you into trouble. What you will earn from part-time jobs will just be enough to take care of basic living expenses. If your monthly payment exceeds 450 euros, you will have to pay taxes. As of January 1, 2015, the minimum wage in Germany is 8.50 euros per hour.
Companies like Daimler and Amazon offer seasonal jobs to students during the holidays. Students can take advantage of this to earn some extra cash during their semester breaks.
44) My spouse plans to accompany me to Germany. Would he or she be allowed to work?
Spouses who accompany foreign students may be allowed to work under certain circumstances. Spouses of foreign students who plan on accompanying them and hope they will be allowed to work must fully disclose their intention when applying for the visa.
45) Will I be liable to pay taxes in Germany?
The two main factors that determine whether you will be liable to pay tax are the amount of money you’ve earned working and the duration of your stay in Germany. You are generally excluded from having to pay taxes if your stay in Germany doesn’t exceed six months and if you make less than €450 per month (considered to be income from a so-called ‘mini-job’ and therefore tax and pension contribution exempt) working in Germany. If your annual gross income is less than €8,130 you will get all the taxes you paid refunded back to you at the end of the year when you file your tax return with tax authorities.
46) Can I bring my wife or children to Germany while studying there?
Family reunification is possible if you have a residence permit in Germany and also if the duration of your study will take longer than one year. However, you must prove that you can be able to support them without burdening social assistance in any way for you to be allowed to bring them to Germany.
47) What exactly is a Studentenwerk?
Studentenwerk is an organisation which acts in the interest of the students of each particular region in Germany. Each German region has its own studentenwerk, but they cooperate closely on the national level. Studentenwerk generally organize and run cafeterias, restaurants, housing units, the BAföG for the government, and even psychological and low-level health services. Some regions and universities mandate a certain yearly fee by each student for the studentenwerk, making it legally a very close cooperation between the semi-independent organisation and the local governments.
48) Can I do a “Dual Studium” as a foreigner?
Most universities in Germany offer the so called “Duales Studium”. This special way of studying makes it possible for students to study theory at a traditional university and at the same time practice what they have learned at companies who partner with the university or program. Depending on your visa you will most likely be able as a foreigner to work only 120 days out of the year. As long as this is in agreement with your university’s program you can participate in the highly successful Dual Studium program.
49) Will my driver’s license be valid in Germany?
The validity of foreign driver’s licenses is usually limited to six months. If your driver’s license expires after 6 months as a full-time student with a residence permit in Germany, the only way for you to continue to drive legally would be to transfer your license. The country of issuance of your driver’s license will determine whether the transferring of your license will require you to undergo the theoretical and driving tests administered by driving schools in Germany. You can find out more about what regulations apply to your home country by contacting the local dept. of motor vehicles/driver’s licenses.
Transferring your driver’s license in Germany will require you to provide the following documents:
- Your original driver’s license (has to still be valid),
- Passport-size photograph of you,
- Proof of residency in Germany and
- Your passport or ID card.
50) How can I find accommodation once I arrive in Germany?
Finding accommodation as a new student in Germany can be quite tough depending on the city where you find yourself. In big cities like Munich, finding accommodation can be a huge headache and most of the rooms you might come across can be relatively expensive. Some universities provide accommodation to students. It is therefore important to check with your university first if they offer accommodation since university accommodations are quite cheaper. If you are unable to find accommodation through this means, you can search online. One of the most popular sites for searching for accommodation in Germany is WG. New rooms are advertised each day on this site and you can definitely secure a room if you are persistent.
If possible do not arrive late at night since you can end up being stranded. If you still don´t have a flat after your arrival in Germany, please go as soon as possible to the Studentenwerk. They often have an emergency accommodation available at the beginning of the term.
Questions & Answers
Question: What’s your take on studying in English versus studying in German as an undergraduate student while in Germany?
Answer: It depends on your long term goal. If your goal is to stay and work in Germany after completing your studies, then it would be wise to study in German as this would definitely help you master the language. Of course, you will also need to master German to a certain level in your home country before you are even admitted to study a program that is taught in German. There have been cases of students who have been able to master German whilst they were studying in English but generally it’s quite difficult.
Question: How much do the private universities in Germany cost for engineering? Are there public universities that teach engineering in English? If I am supposed to be taught in German, and I don’t understand it, do I have to apply for a language course and then come back to Nigeria to apply for a student visa?
Answer: The tuition fees at private universities in Germany range from a few hundred euros to several thousands of euros.
Yeah, there are a lot of public universities that teach engineering in English in Germany.
First and foremost, if you are going to study at a university in German, then you must prove that you have sufficient knowledge of German at the Embassy to be granted a student visa. No university will give you an admission letter to study in German if you don't understand German.
Also, you can't just apply to a language course for instance like A1 and expect to be granted a language visa considering that there is a Goethe Institute in Nigeria that also offers A1. It is advisable to study German in Nigeria to a respectable level like B1 before applying for a language course in Germany.
Normally, most language courses are part of the requirement to pursue a degree program in German. Hence, once you have successfully completed the German language course, you can go ahead and start with your degree program and apply for the switch from language visa to a student visa in Germany. You don't need to return to Nigeria to apply all over again.
Question: I recently applied for a German student visa at the German Embassy in Sri Lanka. It is stated on their website that the visa process takes about three months. I applied on the 3rd of May, and still, haven’t heard from them. I called the Embassy yesterday, and they informed me that the entire process could take more than three months. My university is located in Dortmund, and their enrollment deadline is in September. Is there a way to accelerate the visa process?
Answer: Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do than wait for a decision. The first thing I would have suggested you do was to call the embassy which you have already done. The visa process usually takes three months, but it can take more than that for one reason or the other.
Another option you can take is to ask your school to contact the immigration office in your university town to inquire about the status of your visa. However, this will have very little effect in accelerating the visa process since they hardly give priority to any one application.
I understand that awaiting a visa decision can be nerve-wracking, but I will advise you just to relax and wait for the decision. If you haven't heard anything by the end of August, try to contact the embassy again. Also, ask your university if it is possible to extend your enrollment deadline. All the best.
Question: I applied for a student visa two weeks ago. During the interview, the consular told me I’d get my passport in two months. Assuming the Embassy intends to reject my visa, will they inform me earlier (around 1-3 weeks) or later (around two to three months) of their decision? Does the fact that the consular told me I’d get my passport in two months mean my student visa will be most likely approved?
Answer: There is no standard period that the German Embassy takes to reject student visas. Some students will have their visas rejected just a few weeks after their visa interview. Others will get notified after several months. If you receive an email asking you to come for your documents and they don't mention anything about a travel insurance, then you can be 90% sure your student visa has been rejected.
Question: I just received a conditional offer letter from TU Ilmenau University. The first condition is I have to do a preparatory course and give an aptitude test once I arrive in Germany. The second condition has to do with my IELTS score. I scored 5.5 on my IELTS, which didn’t satisfy the university’s requirement. The university offered me the option of taking and passing an English test once I arrive in Germany. What are my chances, and should I apply for the visa or not with these conditions?
Answer: Honestly, I can't tell you the chance of securing a visa with your conditions since there are a whole lot of other factors involved. Securing an admission letter, even if it's a conditional admission letter, tells the Embassy the university believes you are fit to pursue their degree program.
Your IELTS score is a little low. However, your university has offered you the chance to retake it in Germany. The question the Embassy will ask themselves is what is the guarantee you will get the required score if granted a visa.
So you should weigh the options and decide if it's worth it to apply. I can't decide for you. In case, you decide to apply, work extensively on your motivation letter. Explain in your motivation letter why you had a low score in IELTS and convince them you will get a higher IELTS score and pass your aptitude test if given a visa to study in Germany.
Question: Have you ever heard of a study visa (university) being rejected because the student's family owns a house in Germany? A Chinese client of mine has suggested that this happened to a friend of his, but it sounds incorrect.
Answer: I think it is highly unlikely. I don't think a student's family owning a house in Germany will have any outcome on his or her visa.
Question: I will be arriving in Berlin by the end of this year to start with my language course. I have a friend who has started his first year of bachelors here (in India). I've come across people saying that there's an option to apply for universities in Germany directly after finishing your first year in your home country, but there isn’t much info about this on the net. Can you elaborate more on this?
Answer: With a high school diploma and a year of study at a university (or 2 years sometimes), you can gain admission directly to a university in Germany since the high school diploma from most countries is not equivalent to the Abitur in Germany.
Question: A friend of mine told me that the interviewer will ask if you want to answer the questions in German or English. She said that this is a trick question and you should always opt to answer in German. If not, there is a high chance your visa would be rejected. Is this true? Is it okay if one gives the interview in English or should they answer in German (for a student visa)?
Answer: There is no evidence that students who answer their interview questions in German are highly likely to secure their student visas than those who answer in English. If your programme is taught completely in English, the interviewer will expect the interview to be in English. Same way if you are going for a German taught programme; the interviewer will expect the interview to be in German.
Question: What document am I required to submit to show English language proficiency for the visa application? My course will be taught in English. All of my previous education has been in English, and this was sufficient for my university admission process in Germany.
Answer: It is always advisable to take IELTS or TOEFL just to be safe, especially if you are not from a native English speaking country like USA, UK, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. This is because there have been a lot of cases where applicants couldn’t score a 6.0 in IELTS which is the minimum score for most English-taught programs in Germany despite all their previous education being in English.
If your university accepted that all your previous education was in English and waived IELTS or TOEFL, then I think that is enough. The embassy might only require a letter from your university and previous educational institutions stating your education was entirely in English and as such do not require IELTS or TOEFL. However, if during the interview, they realize that your level of English is inferior even though all your previous education was in English, it can lead to your visa being rejected.
Question: I applied for my student visa with my mother's financial records because she is the one that is paying for my stay here in Germany. I have a six months visa, so I need to extend it. Do I need to show money again for the extension?
Answer: To extend your visa, you must show the money again at the Immigration office.
Question: How do you think I can justify a second masters degree if the VO happen to bring it up during the interview?
Answer: Below is a good example given by a student for going for a second master's degree.
"I initially applied for my dream Ph.D. program at TU-Munich. However, I was denied admission on the basis that I lacked sufficient course content and research in my master's degree. I, therefore, decided to apply for another master's degree to get the necessary course content and research experience to apply for my dream Ph.D. program at TU-Munich."
Question: Does the consular go to prospective students schools to verify their results and transcripts?
Answer: Some embassies might do that if they spot some inconsistencies in your application. Anyway, if you have a genuine application, there is nothing to be afraid of.
Question: I am a Bsc Microbiology Student (6 semesters) in India. I want to apply to the IMPRS MarMic course in Bremen, Germany. The last date of application is February 28th whereas my final semester exam would be in March/April. Can I send an application to the university with transcripts of only five semesters?
Answer: The best thing will be to email the school and ask them if it's possible. Some German universities require you to have your complete transcripts and degree certificate at the time of application. Others can accept partial transcripts on the condition that you will present your complete transcripts and degree certificate during enrollment.
© 2017 Charles Nuamah
Eleonora Lansah on January 05, 2020:
Hi,i am a ghanaian myself and i ll be having my student interview soon,i would need some information on some of the requirements. Is it possible to contact you on a more suitable platform. Thanks
halima on October 29, 2019:
hey, I finished high school in Egypt but I'm originally from the UK and I'd like to study in germany but I don't know if they'll except my school leaving diploma even though i got an 82%
Ernest on October 13, 2019:
I applied for a german student visa and unfortunately I have only five weeks to enroll at my university since I couldn't secure an early visa appointment. Initially, I had only 3 weeks to enroll but the embassy asked me to request for extension of which the university agreed and gave me an additional 2 weeks.
Do you think I will get the visa on time?
Joy on September 05, 2019:
I am 32 years old, is there any options to bachelor degree?
Mehar Adeel on August 08, 2019:
Aoa. I would like to ask about work opportunities after study time
Zayn on June 26, 2019:
I done my visa interview for study in Germany few days ago , visa officer asked me only few questions, like how many semester , credits, previous academic background, results , future plans , ielts score, and I answerd the question properly. but the problem is when visa officer asked me about my accommodation, I did mistakes ,and he doubt me and told me to submit the accommodation documents that I booked there. And some mistakes on my health insurance certificate, and he said me to extend the health insurance date . So now my question is this mistakes can lead me in the visa rejection?
Ruturaj Chavan on May 07, 2019:
It has been 62 days now since I gave my Visa Interview. I know it may take time but my language classes have already started. I tried to email the consulate but I not got a reply. Also tried calling them but all efforts on vain. They pick up the call and no one replies on the phone. Just worried. What can I do in this situation?
Didi on January 04, 2019:
Hello, I received a conditional admission offer, and the condition s include obtaining min 20 week's work experience through internship in my related program and also obtaining an additional 30ECTS, both of which should be done during the masters program. The letter also stated that I could acheiveh both by taking an exchange semester. My question is will these conditions affect my Visa application?
Raisa Gomes on June 25, 2018:
Hi, I am applying for a Student visa to Germany from the Mumbai Consulate. I will be funding my education through an education loan taken from my bank based in India.
Will a copy of my loan sanction letter suffice as financial proof for my application?
Or is it required that the bank be based in Germany?
Hassan on August 26, 2017:
It's really helpful.