Applying for a Residence Permit to Study at a University in Germany
I’m applying for university studies – how long may I stay?
If you have not yet been able to enroll at a German university and are doing so, you will be granted up to nine months in advance (§16 AufenthG). These months represent the time prior to enrolling at a university. This period is usually used for preparation to study by taking a German course.
How long will my residence permit be valid for my studies at the university?
Usually, you will receive a permit for two years (§16 AufenthG). Thereafter your permit may be extended in two-year steps until you have completed your studies (within a reasonable period). In other words, you are not just required to study in the shortest time, but may also repeat one course the following semester. The main thing is that you can always show immigration that you are progressing in your studies.
Oops. I forgot to extend my enrollment at the university. I got an "Exmatrikulationsbescheinigung" in the mail from the school. What can I do about it?
React! Your status is illegal as you are not studying any more. You will have to either leave or come up with compelling reasons why you did not extend your studies. No, you can’t just say: "I forgot. I'm sorry." On the other hand, hospitalization or something else serious might be accepted as an excuse.
Darn, I just don’t get math! It was much easier in school. Can I change subjects without losing my residence permit? What do I have to do?
Relax. As long as your funds will still last for the extended period, you can expect that the office will not reject you. However, you only get one opportunity to change. If you are unsure whether to change or not, you would be well advised to prepare for the change of subject well ahead of the expiration of your residence permit. It would be a good idea to take a class or two in this new subject and pass a test (with a much better grade than previously). When renewing the permit, have a good excuse for the officer ready. If you were able to pass a test in the new subject, show that! If your funds could run out before you finish the next study period, make sure to replenish them!
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After just finishing my studies, I want to get a job here. Do I have to first leave and apply from home or can I stay here and take a look?
Graduates of German universities are preferentially treated in this regard. Yes, you can stay in Germany for up to a 18 months following your studies (§16 IV AufenthG). Be sure to go to the Ausländeramt within a week after passing your exam and report that you have finished and wish to stay to find a job. While tracking down your job meeting your education, you are allowed to pursue any interim job to finance yourself. When you then find a job, you still have to meet all the general requirements for either "normal" Employment, Blue Card EU or High Professionals – except for any entry visa issues.
Unfortunately, I did not pass my exams. But I like it here very much and have found many friends. Is there any chance for me to stay?
Sorry, it would be better to start packing and break things up. It is not likely that you will receive an extension. You had your chance – now it is time to leave. Yet, things might look different if you can find a job.
My studies lasted six years. I just passed my exam and am reluctant to leave. I like it here so much that I want to stay. Can I apply for permanent residency? I’ve met the five-year requirement.
No, no way. Even if you meet all (other) prerequisites, you will not legally qualify for permanent residency. Your purpose of residence does not qualify for a settlement permit. So even if you add the job-finding year after your exam, you will have to leave if you do not find a job. After finding a job, you will have to reside another five years in Germany to qualify for a settlement permit.
After having studied some terms here, I want to study at a different university because my major topics are not sufficiently offered here. Will it be a problem?
Not really. However! You must first become enrolled in the new university and then reapply your residence permit. If you fail to do the latter, your stay will be considered as illegal. Take the wording of the residence permit literally!