4.1.1 Applying for a visa

After prospective students have received the letter of admission (Zulassungsbescheid) or confirmation of admission on the basis of an exchange programme not leading to a degree (Bestätigung zum Programmstudium ohne Abschluss), a visa application should be made without delay as the processing will take time. The visa section of a consulate or embassy will normally issue a visa after a prescribed period of three weeks and two days (Schweigefrist), provided no objection has been received from the Berlin Immigration Office (Landesamt für Einwanderung). However, this is the minimum period of time required for the processing of the application.

Issuing a visa may take less time for students who receive a scholarship funded by German sources, e.g. a DAAD scholarship or a fully-fledged scholarship as part of inter-university arrangements. In such cases the visa can be issued without any further checks.

Please note: If you are staying in Germany no longer than 12 months, you may ask the German visa department to issue a D-Visa valid for all Schengen states for the entire intended period of your stay with reference to Article 18 Section 2 SDÜ. In that case, no residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) is required during your stay in Berlin. Usually, however, you have to apply for a student residence permit after entering Germany (► 5.1.3).

Applicants already living in Germany, such as au pairs or students on pre-university German language courses, must have their residence permit converted into a residence permit for university studies within one year. Reapplication for a visa in the home country is not necessary in such cases.