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Visa and residence permit

Before entering Germany

Applicants from certain countries need a visa to be allowed to enter Germany. To find out whether or not you need a visa, please ask at the German Embassy or the German Consulate in your home country or visit the website of the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt). If your country is marked with "(3)" or "(4)" on the list and "no" is entered next to "entry visa required", this means you can enter Germany for the purpose of studying without a visa.

Citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA; Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) and from Switzerland do not have to apply for a visa to enter Germany.

To obtain a study visa, you will require a letter of admission from a German university. Study visas are usually valid for three months and can be exchanged for a residence permit for study purposes in Germany. A tourist visa cannot be exchanged for a residence permit for study purposes!

To apply for a visa, you will need the following documents:

  • Passport
  • Application confirmation or letter of admission from a German university
  • Proof of how you will fund your studies in Germany
  • Health insurance

Please find out about the formalities required for the visa application as early as possible from the German Embassy or German Consulate. This process can often take several months. A late arrival may lead to important dates being missed. For example, if you miss the language examination, you cannot be accepted onto a study program!

After entering Germany

Students from the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA)

Students from these countries can enter Germany without a visa. After arriving in Germany, you will have to register with the local registration office (Meldeamt) of your community in Germany. You will then receive a registration certificate.

If you live in Osnabrück, you will have to register with the Bürgeramt (Registration Office) in Osnabrück. This can be done during the Welcome Week or individually. In this case, please note that you need an appointment for visiting the Bürgeramt. 

Students from non-EU/EEA countries

Students from non-EU/EEA countries have to apply for a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis), whether or not they entered Germany with a visa, within the time of validity of their visa - or in case of a visa-free entry - within three months upon arrival in Germany. You will also have to register with the local registration office (Meldeamt) of your community in Germany.

In Osnabrück, the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigners' Office) is responsible for both these steps. Please note that you need an appointment  for visiting the Foreigners' Office. Please note also that there are long waiting times at the moment. More information about making an appointment is available here.

Students who live in the region of Osnabrück apply at their local Foreigners' Office.

During the Welcome Week at the beginning of the semester, international students have the chance to deal with these formalities with the Ausländerbehörde Osnabrück with the assistance of the International Office.

To apply for a residence permit, you will need the following documents:

  • Letter of admission
  • Proof of enrollment at the university (Immatrikulationsbescheinigung)
  • Passport
  • Proof of how you will fund your studies
  • Proof of health insurance
  • One biometric passport photo
  • Visa (if applicable)
  • Confirmation of scholarship (if applicable)

It is very important that you prove you have sufficient funding for your studies. You must prove your sources of funding and how much is available to you. At present, German authorities estimate that students need around € 670 / month to support themselves (winter semester 2016/17: € 735). Please ask the Ausländerbehörde how you should prove you have sufficient financial resources.

You will receive your residence permit in the form of a credit card-sized card. Your fingerprint will be taken and saved on a chip inside the card together with your photo and personal details.
Moreover, there will be an optional online ID function and an electronic signature function. The card cannot be manufactured by the local Foreigners' Office, but can be picked up there some weeks after your application. Please consider this when applying for a residence permit and get in touch with your Foreigners' Office in good time.

Residence permits valid for up to one year cost 100 Euro.

More information about the electronic residence permit

Please contact the International Office if you have any questions.

After your studies in Germany

Once you have exmatriculated, your residence permit for study purposes will no longer be valid, even if the residence permit was originally valid beyond the time of exmatriculation!

After ending your studies in Germany non-EU students may apply for a residence permit with a validity of one and a half years for job search. During this time you are allowed to work with no time limits.

You can get information from the Central Student Advisory Service (Zentrale Studienberatung) about how to find a job after having finished your studies.

There is also an online database  with job vacancies all over Germany.