A foreign student may be granted a residence permit for the purpose of studying at a state higher education institution, a state-recognised higher education institution or comparable training institution in Germany.
The studies may be carried out at state or state-recognised institutions of higher education (universities, colleges of education, art colleges and universities of applied sciences) or comparable educational establishments, at vocational academies and at state or state-recognised 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 comprises all training phases connected with studies as well as preparatory measures for studies and the completion of a compulsory internship. Study-preparatory measures are attendance of a study-preparatory language course if the foreigner has been admitted to full-time studies and admission is linked to attendance of a study-preparatory language course, and attendance of a preparatory college or a comparable institution if acceptance to a preparatory college 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 to study
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 linguistic prerequisites for taking up a course of study 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 permitted to take up part-time student employment after commencing their studies without any time restrictions 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 the preparation of studies in the first year of residence: no employment may be exercised during this period, except during the holiday period.
Semester abroad and exchange programmes
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 do not require a German residence title for entry and residence in Germany for stays of up to 360 days. Further information on this possibility can be obtained from the host 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 within the framework of a European Union exchange programme 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 period of study is not exceeded. Exceptions can be made if the regular period of study is exceeded, as long as the studies are in order. As a rule, this is the case if the average duration of studies at the university in question is not exceeded by more than three semesters in the respective course of studies and is confirmed by the university institution. In the case of a change of course of study or place of study, the residence permit is applied for and issued anew.
In the event of an interruption, discontinuation or unsuccessful completion of studies, a residence permit may 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 their studies, graduates have the opportunity to look for a job commensurate with their qualifications and may stay in Germany 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 corresponding gainful employment with the prospect of receiving a settlement permit after two years.