Visa and residency permit

International students from a third country must – with a few exceptions – obtain a visa for entry into Germany.

They can get this visa from the relevant German mission abroad. Basically, the process differentiates between two types of visas.

The Schengen Visa is issued for a short stay (for example, tourism, participation in a summer language course) of up to three months per half-yearly period. Beware: Holders of a Schengen Visa must leave the country again after three months at the latest. This means the Schengen Visa is not a suitable instrument if you wish to study, do a doctorate or complete a research stay in Germany.

national Visa is issued for stays lasting longer than three months (for example, to become a doctoral student or to study a full programme).

If you wish to study or do a doctorate, you must make sure right from the beginning that you apply for a national visa for the purpose of studying (student visa). As a rule, you will have to present the following papers and documents to the relevant German mission abroad (e.g. embassy or consulate in your country):

  • letter of admission from the German university,
  • health insurance policy,
  • proof of any academic credits gained or examinations passed,
  • proof of any German language skills you may have or of your plans to take a language course in Germany,
  • documents that prove how you intend to finance your living expenses while you are studying (proof of sufficient financial resources).

Tip: Student applicants who have not yet been admitted to a German university or Studienkolleg can apply for a Student Applicant Visa. It is valid for three months and can be converted into a residence permit for the purpose of studying once you have been admitted to a higher education institution.

Another type of visa is the Language Course Visa. But beware: This is only valid for the length of the language course. It cannot be converted into a student visa. If you plan to take a language course in connection with your academic studies, this must be stated when you apply for your visa. You have to  apply for a student visa or a student applicant visa if the purpose of your stay is to study in Germany.
Most foreign students – except nationals of EU and EEA countries – must, after arriving in Germany and having reported to the registration authority, go to the immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde) to apply for a residence permit for the purpose of studying.
Please take the following documents with you to the foreigners authority:

  • Your confirmation of registration issued by the registration authority
  • Proof that you have private or statutory (public) health insurance
  • Student ID-card from your university
  • Possibly, proof of sufficient financial resources – if not already verified when the visa was issued
  • Valid passport
  • Money to pay the residence permit fee (please ask your Immigration Offiice in advance how much the rates are).

The residence permit is initially valid for one to two years and can be extended when it expires. The extension is subject to proper progress being made in your studies and must be applied for in good time before it expires.
(Source: DAAD)

Important information for Kiel:

An appointment with the Immigration Office needs to be made in advance. One way is to give them a call at tel.: +49 (0)431 901-0. Since it is very difficult to reach them by phone, we recommend to send an email to Please be aware that it can take a few months until you receive an appointment.

Mobility of non-EU citizens from another EU country (§ 16a AufenthG)

Students who do not have EU nationality but currently have a residence permit for study purpose from an EU country do not need to apply for a German residence permit in Germany as long as they come to the CAU as part of an exchange program for 1-2 semesters. However, the basic prerequisite for this is that the residence permit from the other country is valid for the entire duration of the stay in Germany and that the visit to CAU takes place within the framework of a mobility or exchange program.

Example: You are a Russian citizen and currently have a residence permit for study purpose in Belgium. Now you are planning to come to Kiel for a semester as an ERASMUS student. Your residence permit from Belgium is valid for the duration of your stay in Kiel. Then you do not need a new residence permit from Germany.

The International Center must report your data to the Federal Office for Migration (BAMF). The BAMF then reports your stay to the responsible immigration office of the city of Kiel. You will also receive a confirmation for your stay.

We need the following documents from you:

  • your current address (message by email)
  • copy of your passport (as pdf)
  • copy of your residence permit from the other EU country (as pdf)
  • attestation of participation in an exchange program (ERASMUS, University Exchange Programs, as pdf)
  • copy of your CAU admission letter (as pdf)
  • proof that you can cover your living expenses (e.g. ERASMUS scholarship, other scholarships, as pdf)

Please send these documents via email to
Jan Bensien