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As a participant in a German intensive course, how do I get a visa for Germany?

There are two main options how to obtain a visa for Germany after you have booked and paid for a German intensive course: 1. "Pre-study visa" and 2. "Language visa"

1. Pre-study visa

If you have attended school for 13 years in your home country and passed the “Abitur / A-levels / Baccalaureate“ or if you have studied for at least 2 years after passing your “Abitur / A-levels / Baccalaureate“, you can study at a German university, provided that your level of German is at least C1 and you have passed the German language examination for the admission to a university (DSH) at a university of your choice or the TestDaF examination. Some unis and colleges of higher education (Fachhochschulen) accept the C1-certificate by TELC as well.

In order to prepare for the above-mentioned exams, you have to pass through the following levels of the Common European Framework of Reference (GER): A1, A2, B1, B2, C1.

The issuing of a visa at the German Embassy is different from country to country. EU-citizens do not require a visa. Citizens of a number of other countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and South Korea generally obtain the visa without any problems. All they have to do is to present a written confirmation by the language school that they have booked and paid for a pre-study intensive German course (according to the criteria of most Embassies, an intensive course has to comprise 20 lessons a week at 45 minutes each). For these countries (and only for these), the Foreign Nationals’ Office in Germany (Ausländeramt) will also exchange a tourist visa (Schengen visa) for a pre-study visa or a language visa without you having to leave Germany in the meantime.

For most other countries (e.g. Russia, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, etc.) the following applies: For your appointment at the Embassy you ought to present a binding enrolment for the missing course levels and a receipt for the payment of at least 2 course levels. In addition, you will usually have to present proof that you have taken out a health insurance (e.g. "Care Concept" or "Klemmer") and opened a blocked bank account in Germany or a declaration of commitment by a solvent German citizen. Please obtain the relevant information on the currently applicable conditions from the German Embassy in your home country. If you have already learned German in your home country, this is at any rate an advantage, as it shows the Embassy officials that you are really interested in learning the German language and do not have any other main reasons for your wish to enter Germany (such as visiting friends or family). In some countries such as the PR of China it is even compulsory to bring proof of basic knowledge (A1 or A2), and this proof is obtained with a special examination (APS) at the German Embassy. You can efficiently prepare in your home country for A1 and A2 in our German online courses.

In some countries such as India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the German Embassy demands that you present a pre-admission ("conditional letter") by a German university. It is because of this pre-admission that the prospective applicants have to make contact themselves with a German university of their choice.

A pre-study visa can be renewed at one of the Foreign Nationals‘ Offices in Germany. Generally, a pre-study stay in Germany up to a total duration of one year is possible without any problems, as long as some intensive German courses without any longer interruptions have been booked and paid for. In case of an exceedance of this general period of time, it is up to the Foreign Nationals‘ Offices to decide whether the visa can be renewed for a few more months. If the objective of the courses, is not too far away, i.e. a German level of at least B2 has been achieved already, most Foreign Nationals‘ Offices will approve the renewal. Shortly before the final exam (DSH, TestDaF) you should already make an application for admission at the university of your choice. If you are admitted, you can convert the pre-study visa into a study visa at the next renewal.

2. Language visa

If you don’t want to learn German in order to subsequently study in Germany but for professional or private reasons, you can apply for a language visa. The same conditions apply as for a pre-study visa. However, for most countries, the probability of obtaining the visa, even after having booked and paid for a German intensive course, are less than for a pre-study visa. You should state plausible reasons for your wish to learn German, when you attend your appointment at the Embassy, e.g. you should show that the knowledge of German is necessary for your professional career in your home country. As a general rule it can be said that the longer the booked and paid for intensive course is, the higher the chances to obtain the visa.

Please note that you have to make contact with the German Embassy yourself. Language schools cannot act as intermediaries with the Embassies as the Embassies do not wish that. They want to get their own personal impression of the visa applicant.

Application procedure

Here is once again the order of the steps that you need to take to enrol in a German intensive course and to obtain a visa:

1) Fill in the enrolment form of the language school in order to enrol for a German intensive course in Germany. The enrolment should be made in good time (if possible 2 months before the planned start of the course).

2) Pay the course fees. Request an invoice from the language school if your bank requires it in order to be able to make an international transfer. The payment can also be made via a contact person in Germany. Make sure that your name (as the participant’s in the course) is stated as a reference on the transfer receipt and the course receipt. Most language schools will charge an enrolment fee as well as the course fee for course applicants who require a visa. This is meant to reduce the risk of course cancellations in case the visa is not granted. A reputable language school should guarantee in its Terms and Conditions that it will refund the course fee in case of a documented refusal of a visa (written notification of refusal by the Embassy).

3) Mailing of the confirmation (sometimes called "invitation" or "invitation letter" even though it is, strictly speaking, not an invitation). For most countries it is advisable to have the documents (booking and payment confirmation) sent by DHL, even though this costs currently up to 70€ (as per: 09/2014) as the forwarding to many countries by normal mail can take up to 2 weeks or longer and carries a certain risk. Always request a separate payment confirmation from the language school, as the Embassy wants to check if the booked intensive course has been paid for.

3) Once you have gathered all the required documents (confirmation by the language school, where required a health insurance, a blocked bank account in Germany or a declaration of commitment, proof of accommodation), arrange an appointment at the German Embassy as soon as possible. Take into account the fact that the visa application process can take 2 months or longer in some countries and book the course dates accordingly. If the period of time between the visa application and the booked start of the course is too short, this can be a reason for refusal for the Embassy.

4) Make sure you start looking for accommodation in Germany well ahead of time if you have nobody on location who can do this for you. Very few language schools offer accommodation or arrange the location of a room or flat (against a fee) for you. Some Embassies require a proof of accommodation before they grant a visa. If your language school offers or arranges accommodation for you, ask the school for a corresponding confirmation (often a note on the general booking confirmation is sufficient).

If you would like to book a German intensive course with „Sprachenstadt“ please contact us by e-mail if you have any further questions regarding the booking and visa procedure.

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