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Practical Advice for Moving to Germany to Study or Research

5 min read · By Academic Positions

More money in invested in research and development in Germany than any other country in Europe making it a great place for international students and researchers. Here’s some practical advice for those moving to Germany to study or research.

Visas

If you are a citizen of the EU/EEA or certain other countries you will not need a visa to enter Germany, although you will need a residence permit to study or research in Germany. If you are not a citizen of the EU/EEA, you will need to apply for a visa to study in Germany. Once you receive your letter of admission, you should start the visa application process as it will take some time. As part of the application, you will need to prove: sufficient financial resources to study in Germany, health insurance coverage, and German language proficiency or plans to take a German course.

An international researcher who has a contract with a German research institution should apply for a scientific visa for international researchers. This visa also provides a residence permit for research purposes. You will have to show that your livelihood is secure and that you will make a minimum monthly net income.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is mandatory in Germany and all students and researchers must provide proof of health insurance coverage in order to enroll. Students and researchers from EU/EEA countries should get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before coming to Germany. The EHIC card will cover any medical care you require while in Germany.

Public and private health insurance policies from outside the EU/EEA may also be recognized in Germany. Contact your health insurance provider to confirm if you will be covered before you leave. If your insurance is recognized, you must contact one of the public health insurance providers in Germany (AOK, TK, Barmer, DAK) to get a certificate verifying that you are insured.

If you are not insured in your home country or your policy isn’t recognized in Germany, you must sign up for health insurance from a recognized statutory health insurance provider in Germany. Many offer student rates.

Before enrolling and applying for a residence permit, every student (regardless of nationality) must contact one of the contact one of the public health insurance providers in Germany to get a certificate verifying that they are insured.

Residency Permit

Student visas are valid for three months and you will have to apply for an extended residence permit once you arrive in Germany. Before you do that, you must register with the Resident Registration Office (Bürgeramt or Bürgerbüro) once you have found acommodation. You will receive the confirmation of registration document from them which you will use to apply for your residence permit. Citizens of EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland will automatically receive their residence permit when they register at the Resident Registration Office. If you are not from one of these countries you apply for your extended residence permit at the Alien Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) after you have gone to the Resident Registration Office. Researchers from outside of the EU/EEA and their families must follow the same procedure to obtain their residence permits.

Bringing Your Family

As a student, it is possible to bring a spouse and family to Germany if you will be in Germany for over a year, have a residence permit, and were married when the permit was issued. You will also have to show that you can financially support yourself and your family during their time in Germany. Family members will have to apply for a visa for family reunification from the German embassy in their home country.

If you are a researcher with a scientific visa, your spouse can come to Germany with you and is entitled to work while in Germany. Their employment offer must be presented to the Aliens’ Authority (Ausländeramt) and will be checked and approved by the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit)

Banking

You will need a German bank account to rent an apartment, get a cell phone contract, or set up internet. To open an account at most banks you will need proof of enrollment and your confirmation of registration from the Resident Registration Office. Major German banks include Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, DZ Bank, and Postbank.

Learning German

English is the lingua franca of research at many German universities, but learning German will facilitate your off-campus life. Learning German will help you establish yourself and improve your experience in the country. Many universities offer German courses for foreign students and have language clubs where students can practice their German. The Goethe-Institut, a German language and cultural centre, offers languages courses in Germany and around the world. If you need to prove your German proficiency for your program or application, Goethe-Institut courses and exams are a recognized way to prove your language proficiency.

By Academic Positions  ·  Published 2018-03-30

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