Cologne offers a vast variety of universities ranked among the best in Germany with the qualifications that are internationally valued and recognised, affordable cost of living and rich cultural and social life. All of this and much more make this city a great choice for anybody looking for quality education.
So, after careful consideration and much thought of all these reasons, you have decided to come to Germany and study in Cologne. But, what now?
Firstly, you have to find out whether you need a German visa or not. You can determine that very easily by answering following questions:
Are you a student who comes from the European Union?
If you are coming from EU (including Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein), you neither require an entry visa nor a residence permit. A valid national identity card or official ID is sufficient for entering the country. In some cases they may ask to see proof of financial resources and confirmation of health insurance coverage. Nevertheless, like all Germans and foreigners you have to register your residential address (street, apartment, landlord) at the Registration Office (“Meldeamt” or “Bürgeramt”) upon your arrival to Cologne. If you haven’t decided yet where to live while in Cologne, we prepared the whole section about housing and accommodation for students in Cologne that can be helpful in your search.
Are you a student who comes from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan or South Korea?
If you are a citizen of one of these countries, you do not need a visa to study in Cologne. However, you have to register your residential address (street, apartment, landlord) at the Foreigners’ Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) as soon as you arrive in Germany. This is where you receive your “confirmation of registration” (Meldebestätigung) which is necessary in order to apply for a resident permit.
Are you a student who comes from the Andorra, Brasil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco, San Marino or Taiwan?
If you are from any of these countries and plan on working in Germany before or after your studies, you need an entry visa. Only under these circumstances, you have to apply for the visa at the German Embassy/Consulate in your country. In both cases, the residential address has to be registered and residence permit must be obtained upon the arrival.
Are you a student who comes from any other country not listed above?
If you are from any other country not listed above, you will need a German visa for study purposes before entering the country. You should apply for the visa at the German Embassy/Consulate in your country.
The correct visa choice
There are three types of German visas for study purposes you can choose from:
- Language Course Visa – If you want to learn the German language, this is the perfect visa for you. In order to apply for this visa you need to be enrolled in a language course. A visa is valid for the duration of the course that can last no longer than one year. This type of visa cannot be extended further and a Language Course Visa cannot be converted into a Study Applicant Visa or Student Visa while you are in Germany. So, if you decide to continue your studies directly after the Language course you will have to return to your home country to apply for a Student Visa.
- Student Applicant Visa (Visum Zur Studienbewerbung) – If you are still trying to find the right study program in Cologne or you haven’t yet received notification of admission to your University, you may consider applying for Student Applicant Visa. With this visa you can stay in Germany for three months and may extend it to a maximum of six months. If you are admitted to a University within this period, you may apply for a Student Visa.
- Student Visa (Visum Zu Studienzwecken) – If you have received notification of admission to your University, you should apply for a Student Visa. Student Visas are usually valid for three months. During this time you need to apply for an extended residence permit at the Foreigners’ Registration Office in Cologne.
How to apply for a German visa for study purposes
Contact the German Embassy or Consulate in your home country and apply for a visa as soon as possible and at least three months before your departure.
The usually required documents are:
- Completed application form
- Valid passport
- Two photographs
- Letter of acceptance from your higher education institution (if you are applying for a Student Visa)
- Higher education institution entrance qualification (if you are applying for a Student Applicant Visa)
- Transcript of academic record
- Certificate of German language proficiency or proof that you intend on attending a language course in Cologne
- Finanzierungsnachweis – proof that you have around 8,700 euros per year to support yourself while living in Germany
- Certificate showing you’ve purchased health insurance
- Declaration of authenticity of documents submitted
Required documentation may vary from Embassy to Embassy, so please contact your Consulate/Embassy to verify what is required. Also, please note that the process of obtaining a visa for study purposes may take up to 3 months, so a timely application for your visa is essential.