Information about visa requirements can be found on the homepage of the German Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt).
Entering Germany without a Visa
Citizens of an EU member state, Australia, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Canada, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland or the USA do not need a “Sichtvermerk” (visa), but a valid passport is necessary.
If you are a citizen of an EU member state an “identity card” is sufficient.
Entering Germany with a Visa
For citizens of all countries not mentioned above a visa is necessary for your stay in the Federal Republic of Germany.
There are various types of visas that you may apply for as an applicant or potential applicant for higher education in Germany. The visa duration depends upon the purpose of your stay in the Federal Republic of Germany:
- "Visum für Studienzwecke" - Studienvisum" (student visa)
- "Visum zum Erlernen der deutschen Sprache in Vorbereitung auf ein Fachstudium" - Sprachkursvisum zum Studienzweck (German foreign language course visa for the purpose of future studies in Germany)
- "Visum zur Orientierung über ein Studium an einer deutschen Hochschule" - Studienbewerbervisum (prospective student visa)
The above mentioned visas all express your desire to study in Germany. Thus, all three types of visa can be changed to a student visa by the "Auslandsbehörde" (foreign authorities) here in Germany.
The following visas CANNOT be changed into a "student visa" in Germany:
- Touristenvisum (tourist visa)
- "Besuchsvisum" (visitor’s visa)
- "Geschäftsvisum" (visa for business purposes)
- "Sprachkursvisum ohne Studienabsicht" (foreign language course visa without the purpose of future studies in Germany) - regardless of the language you learn in the language course
If you are traveling to Germany with one of these visas, it is necessary for you to return to your native country to apply for a student visa. In general, it is not possible to change a student visa into a "Aufenthaltsbewilligung" (residence permit). At the completion of your studies, it is thus not possible to change your visa to a "Erwerbstätigkeitsvisum" (paid employment visa).
You must apply for the relevant visa at the responsible German consulate in your native country or your country of permanent residence. Upon arrival in the Federal Republic of Germany, you are required to register with the "Auslandsbehörde" (foreign authorities) in the city where you live.