A foreign student may be granted a residence permit for the purpose of studying at a state university, a state-recognized university or comparable educational institution in Germany.
The studies may be carried out at state or state-recognized institutions of higher education (universities, colleges of education, art colleges and universities of applied sciences) or comparable educational institutions, at vocational academies and at state or state-recognized preparatory colleges.
Studies must be the main purpose of the stay. Evening, weekend or correspondence courses, for example, do not meet these requirements.
- The purpose of residence for studies includes all training phases connected with studies as well as preparatory measures for studies and the completion of a compulsory internship. Study-preparatory measures are the attendance of a study-preparatory language course if the foreigner has been admitted to full-time studies and the admission is linked to the attendance of a study-preparatory language course, and the attendance of a Studienkolleg or a comparable institution if the acceptance to a Studienkolleg or a comparable institution is proven.
- The preparatory courses and compulsory internships required for this purpose as well as postgraduate courses of study such as master's and doctoral courses of study as well as
- subsequent practical activities, provided that they are part of the prescribed course of study or serve to comprehensively achieve the educational objective.
Residence in Germany for the purpose of applying for studies
A residence permit of a maximum of nine months can also be granted for the purpose of applying to study in Germany. The prerequisite is that the applicant has the educational and language requirements for taking up studies or that these are to be acquired within the residence period of 9 months. The pursuit of employment during this period is not permitted.
Gainful employment during studies
Foreign students from countries outside the European Economic Area are allowed to take up part-time student employment without any time restrictions after taking up their studies and, as a rule, to take up employment for a maximum of 120 days or 240 half-days per calendar year. However, this does not apply to the period of a language course for study preparation in the first year of residence: no employment may be pursued during this period, except during the vacation period.
Semester abroad and exchange programs
For students who already hold a residence title as a student in another EU member state and wish to complete part of their studies in Germany, no German residence title is required for entry and residence in the Federal territory for stays of up to 360 days. Further information on this possibility can be obtained from the receiving educational institution or the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
Furthermore, a residence permit will be issued to a student in Germany who is studying in another member state of the European Union if he or she wishes to continue his or her studies here as part of a European Union exchange program or has already been admitted to study in the other EU member state for a period of at least two years.
Extension of the residence permit
The residence permit only entitles the holder to pursue the studies for which he/she has applied and been admitted. As a rule, it is extended in each case, provided that sufficient means of subsistence for this period are proven and the regular study period is not exceeded. Exceptions for exceeding the regular period of study may be permitted as long as proper study is present. This is usually the case if the average duration of study at the university in question is not exceeded by more than three semesters in the respective course of study and is confirmed by the higher education institution. In case of a change of study program or place of study, the residence permit will be applied for and issued again.
In the event of an interruption, discontinuation or unsuccessful completion of studies, a residence permit can only be issued for qualified vocational training, for the pursuit of employment as a skilled worker or for the pursuit of employment with distinctive practical vocational knowledge.
Extension after completion of studies
After successfully completing his studies, the graduate has the opportunity to look for a job appropriate to his qualifications and may stay in the Federal territory for up to 18 months for this purpose. As soon as he has found such a job, he can be granted a residence permit for the corresponding gainful employment with the perspective that he will receive a settlement permit after two years.