Many international students need to obtain a visa before coming to Germany. 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 are required to be in possession of a visa prior to entering Germany, and which type of visa you need, depends on
- your citizenship
- the duration of your stay
- the reason of your stay
Citizens of European Union member states as well as citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland may come to Germany without a visa. You are solely required to have a valid official ID card or passport. As soon as you have found a permanent place of residence, please register your residence with the residents’ registration office responsible for you.
Citizens of non-European Union member states are required to obtain a visa in order 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 student visa (Visum zu Studienzwecken). If you participate in a DSH preparatory class, please apply for a student application visa (Visum zur Studienvorbereitung).
Important notice: If you are planning to study at TH Köln within the scope of a mobility scheme (e.g. Erasmus), you will have to follow the European directive EU2016/801, the so-called REST-Directive. A valid residence permit from the EU country* you are currently studying in 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.
*Excluded from this regulation are Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Exemptions for certain countries
Citizens of Andorra, Australia, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea and the U.S. are allowed to enter Germany without a visa for a stay of fewer than 90 days. They are required to request a residence permit for Germany within this period of time.
Staying for less than 90 days?
Should you intend to stay in Germany for fewer than 90 days – for instance for an on-site seminar, summer school or short internship – only citizens of countries with a visa requirement need to obtain a Schengen Visa.
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.
Federal Foreign Office
You may apply for your student visa as soon as you have received an admission letter from TH Köln. This also applies to exchange students who need a visa.
- Usually required documents:
- Valid passport
- Proof of health insurance
- Proof of sufficient funds
- Records of previous study and language skills
- If applicable: letter of acceptance from your higher education institution
- If applying for a prospective student visa: a recognised higher education entrance qualification
- Possibly a health certificate
Information on the proof of sufficient funds
In order to obtain a visa, you must prove that you can manage your studies financially. Currently, you have to prove 720 € per month, meaning 8640 € for one year. 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 until entry. 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 euros. After your arrival in Germany you will receive a debit card with which you can withdraw the money.
It may take several weeks or months before you are issued a visa. We therefore recommend you apply for a visa as soon as possible.
TH Köln is unfortunately not able to influence or expedite visa issuance processes of embassies, consulates or immigration offices.
What do I do after I arrive in Germany?
Upon arrival in Germany, you will have to request a student residence permit at the immigration office within the first three months of your stay.