For studying in Germany international students need a residence permit. To receive the residence permit they have to apply for a visa for the scope of studying in Germany ('Aufenthaltsbewilligung zu Studienzwecken') before entering the country. A visa will be issued by the German Embassy or Consulate in the home country.
For the visa application via the German Embassy candidates may need a "Letter of Acceptance" (Zulassungsbescheid) from Pforzheim University. Also the embassy may ask for an official statement how you will cover the costs of living in Germany. For all questions concerning the visa please contact directly the German Embassy or Consulate in your home country.
Members of the following countries are allowed to enter Germany without a visa:
all countries of the European Union, all countries within EFTA, residents of Australia, Israel, Honduras, Japan, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States of America. Students of these countries (excluded the EU countries) will have to apply for a (student!!) visa at the local Foreigners Office (Auslaenderbehoerde der Stadt Pforzheim) after arrival.
In some countries (e.g. China) additional APS examinations have to be conducted to verify the authenticity of the documents in order to obtain a visa.
Within the application process for getting a visa, the German Embassy/Consulate will have to check that candidates are able to cover the costs of living and studying in Germany. An official financial statement should indicate that (especially for the first year of studying) a sufficient total of money is available. Normally the embassy/consulate will ask to prove a total of at least 934 Euro per month; that is a total of 11.208 Euro per year. In case the monthly costs for rent incl. additional charges lie below 224 Euro, the monthly amount will be reduced accordingly. The monthly total may vary from embassy to embassy.
The requested financial statement is normally accepted via:
a) a formal obligation of the parents to cover the costs for studying in Germany and to pay a min. of 934 Euros per month for the whole study period. Hereby the parents will have to declare their financial situation in detail (proof of the monthly income, assets on bank accounts etc.) and the embassy will have to verify the financial statements.
b) the formal obligation of a third party, meaning an official statement that a person (not directly related to the family) will cover the costs of studying in Germany. This formal obligation ('Verpflichtungserklaerung') is part of the visa process and will be checked by the embassy. After the arrival in Germany this obligation will be requested by the local authorities (normally the Foreigners Office of the city).
Quite often the financial statement will be realized via an installment to a bank account. To issue the visa the embassy will ask for the account book. After arrival the money has to be transfered to a German bank account and quite often the bank account in Germany will limit the total of a monthly rate (for example to a maximum of 934 Euros per month)
c) scholarships: in case a student has been granted a scholarship he/she will have to prove the official confirmation letter of the scholarship organization. The confirmation letter will have to state at least the total of the payment of the scholarship organization and the duration of the program.
Please note: in some countries the embassies/consulates may have introduced different processes / requirements for visa application.
The following information is for students with a limited residence permit (normally for the study period) for their stay in Germany. These are most of the international students from outside Europe. Students with an unlimited residence permit do not need a work permit.
For students with a limited residence permit ('Aufenthaltsbewilligung') the Federal Aliens Act ('Auslaendergesetz') defines in chapter 28 the regulations for working in Germany. A secondary employment (besides the enrolment at a university) is possible only as employee. Self-employed work or working as independent contractor etc. is normally not allowed. Within a calendar year (January - December) the workload as employee may not exceed 4 months (or 120 days) of the year. Normally the student visa (sealed in the passport, changed into electronic card later) outlines this regulation. For working up to 120 days full-time (or 240 days part-time with an average of 4 hours a day) students will not need an additional work permit.
In case an international student is working during the study period he/she is responsible to document that the total working time does not exceed 120 days per year. For this reason it is highly recommended to keep a kind of record (book) that lists all working hours and the employer.
In principle it is essential that the workload in a company does not affect the study progress. Related to the German tax regulations the company should require an income tax card ('Lohnsteuerkarte'). Tax cards will be issued by the local tax authorities.
Changing the study program (subject and/or location)
For all students with a limited residence permit ('Aufenthaltsgenehmigung') the purpose of the residence is determinated by the subject of the study program (see chapter 22.214.171.124 of the administrative regulations within the Federal Aliens Act). In case an international student changes the subject of his/her studies, this change will cause also a change of the purpose for the residency.
International students may change the study program and/or the subject and/or the location for studying within 18 months after arrival only. All changes after this period of 18 months will have to be authorized by the local authorities (normally the Foreigners Office of the city). The local authorities may accept the change of a study program or the location only in case the already completed courses will be recognised by the new study program or new university. An official statement of the new study program or new university for getting the academic recognition of courses is required. In addition the local authority will require a statement confirming that the total of the study period will not exceed 18 months. The authorization of the local authority is also requested in case an international student wants to change the university only (for example he/she will continue the same subject of the study program at the same location, but a different university).
Staying in Germany before studying
Persons interested in studying in Germany may obtain a visa for learning the German language and/or for an orientation period. The status of this visa is called "Studienbewerber" and may be issued for a maximum stay of up to one year. For receiving a visa as "Studienbewerber", applicants will have to meet similar conditions than for getting a visa for studying. "Studienbewerber" are not allowed work while staying in Germany and also the option to work 120 days per year is not included in this visa.
Staying in Germany after studying
After having received the degree of an university, foreign students may stay up to 18 month in Germany (for example as orientation period to find work in Germany). During this orientation period the student is allowed to work without limitation.