Team International Degree-Seeking Students

  • Phone: +49 221-8275-3772

Visa and Residence Permit

Visum (Image: danishc / istock.com)

International students and guest scholars usually require a visa to enter Germany as well as a residence permit for a longer stay. Make sure to inform yourself in time whether you need a visa and – if you do – what type of visa you require and where you can obtain it.

Do I need a visa?

Whether you need a visa to enter Germany as well as which type of visa you need, depends on

  • your citizenship
  • the duration of your stay
  •  the reason of your stay

EU-/EEA-citizens and citizens of Switzerland

Citizens of the European Union as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland can enter Germany without a visa. You are solely required to have a valid official ID card or passport. As soon as you have found permanent accommodation, please register your address of residence with the residents’ registration office responsible for you. You also do not need a residence permit for your stay in Germany.

Non-EU-/EEA-citizens

Citizens from countries outside the EU/EEA generally require a visa to enter Germany. Please apply for a visa at the German embassy or German consulate in your home country. If you intend to enroll in a degree program at TH Köln, you will need to apply for a national visa for "study purposes" (Visum zu Studienzwecken). If you participate in a preparatory German course, please apply for a national visa for "preparation of studies" (Visum zur Studienvorbereitung). Guest scholars usually apply for a national visa for "research" (Forschungsvisum).

Important notice: If you are planning to study or do research at TH Köln within the scope of a mobility scheme (e.g. Erasmus), you will have to follow the European directive EU2016/801.
A valid residence permit from the EU country)* you are currently studying in/doing research is sufficient for your entry into Germany. This means that you do not need to apply for another visa. You just need to submit certain documents to TH Köln. The Department of International Affairs will contact you in time via e-mail informing you on the next steps to be taken.

)*Denmark and Ireland are excluded from this regulation.

Exemptions for certain countries

Citizens of certain countries may be able to enter Germany without a visa, but must then apply for a residence permit within 90 days of entry. Please check the Visa Navigator of the Federal Foreign Office to see if this applies to your country.

Staying for less than 90 days?

If you are planning a stay in Germany for less than 90 days - for example, for a meeting in presence in an online degree program, a summer school, a short internship or participation in a conference - only nationals of countries with visa requirements require a so-called Schengen visa. Please note that a Schengen visa for a tourist stay cannot be converted into a national visa for study purposes, preparation for studies or work for a longer-term stay, nor can a residence permit be issued. This means you must leave the country after 90 days at the latest.

Where, when and how do I apply for a visa?

You apply for a visa at a German embassy or a German consulate in your home country. The website of the German Federal Foreign Office lists all contact details of the embassy or consulate responsible for you. It also provides information on applying for a visa and on the documents to be submitted.

We recommend that you make a visa appointment for study or research purposes as early as possible. In some countries the waiting time for an appointment is more than 6 months. You can also apply for an appointment without an admission letter or invitation letter.

To apply in person, you must then present your letter of admission or letter of invitation to TH Köln. This also applies to exchange students or guest scholars who need a visa.

The embassy website will tell you what other documents are required for your visa application.

Information on the proof of financing for international students and applicants

In order to obtain a visa, you must prove that you can manage your studies financially. Currently, you have to prove 934 € per month, meaning 11.208 € for one year (as of 08/2022) . You can prove it in the form of proof of income from your parents, a security amount in a blocked account, a bank guarantee or a recognised scholarship. Ask the German embassy or consulate in your country about the conditions.

The Blocked Account

Many international students use a blocked account to prove their finances. The amount of money transferred will be blocked in favor of the Immigration Office until entry into Germany. It is important to request the documents in good time. The completed forms as well as a a copy of your passport must be certified at the German mission in your country. After that the blocked account can be opened for a fee of 50 to 150 EUR. After your arrival in Germany, you will receive a debit card with which you can withdraw a maximum of 934 EUR per month.

Please note

TH Köln is unfortunately not able to influence or accelerate visa issuance processes of embassies, consulates or immigration offices.

Do I need a residence permit?

The visa issued by the German embassy in your home country is usually only valid for the entry into Germany and the first three months of your stay in Germany. Therefore, non-EU-/EEA-citizens must apply for a residence permit at the Immigration Office within the validity of the visa if they wish to stay in Germany for longer than three months.

Please pay attention to the maximum duration of stay noted in your personal visa.

Non-EU-/EEA-citizens, who were allowed to enter without a visa, must also apply for a residence permit at the Immigration Office if they wish to stay in Germany for longer than three months.

Bild eines elektronischen Aufenthaltstitels Musterbild eines elektronischen Aufenthaltstitels (Image: BAMF)

You must request this residence permit during the validity period of your entry visa, or within the first three months of your entry. We recommend you do so immediately after your arrival. The residence permit is issued as a chip card and bears the official German title ‘elektronischer Aufenthaltstitel (eAT)’. It is usually valid for one year and therefore needs to be renewed every year.

Please present the following documents to the Immigration Office when you request your residence permit:

  • copy of your valid passport – including your visa, if applicable and entry stamp
  • biometric passport photograph (35x45 mm, not older than 3 months)
  • certificate of registration with the residents' registration office, rental contract, signed confirmation from your landlord*landlady (Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung)
  • for international students: certificate of enrollment of TH Köln
  • for international guest scholars: letter of invitation
  • certificate of health insurance
  • proof of financial resources

In some cases, the Immigration Office may require you to hand in other documents as well. If required, your immigration officer will inform you accordingly.

We have listed the most important immigration offices for you.
Please refer to the pages of the Immigration Offices for information on how to submit the documents and how to make an appointment. Each Immigration Office has its own procedure.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Team International Degree-Seeking Students. We will be happy to advise you.

Where, when and how do I extend my residence permit?

In order to extend your residence permit, please contact your responsible Immigration Office in good time (approx. 3 months in advance) within the validity period of your previously issued residence permit.

The following documents are usually required for an extension of your residence permit:

  • copy of your valid passport
  • biometric passport photograph (35x45 mm, not older than 3 months)
  • certificate of registration with the residents' registration office, rental contract, signed confirmation from your landlord*landlady (Wohnungsgeberbescheinigung)
  • for international students: certificate of enrollment of TH Köln
  • for international students: certificate of your study progress / transcript of records. The certificate of your study progress contains information about your academic achievements to date and the expected end of your studies.
  • for international guest scholars: letter of invitation
  • certificate of health insurance
  • proof of financial resources

Please note that you must prove that you have sufficient financial means for the duration of your studies in Germany each time your residence permit is extended. Please inform yourself about your possibilities at the Immigration Office responsible for you.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Team International Degree-Seeking Students. We will be happy to advise you.

Team International Degree-Seeking Students

  • Phone: +49 221-8275-3772

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