Foreign citizens’ law: residence permit for the purpose of studying in Germany - MTH Rechtsanwälte Köln
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Rechtsanwalt Helmer Tieben
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von: Helmer Tieben

A foreign citizen can apply for a residence permit for the purpose of studying in accordance with section 16b of the German Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz – AufenthG) if he or she has been accepted for a full-time course of studies at a state university, a state-recognised university or a similar educational institution.

Residence for study purposes also extends to measures to prepare for studies and the completion of a compulsory internship.

In order to obtain a residence permit according to section 16b of the German Residence Act (AufenthG), foreign citizens must first apply for a visa for study purposes at the German embassy or the responsible foreign mission in their home country in order to enter German territory.

This sometimes requires the approval of the foreign citizens’ authority at the place of study. If the foreign citizens’ authority does not respond in time, approval will be deemed to have been granted in accordance with section 31 para. (1) sentence 5 of the German Residence Regulation (Aufenthaltsverordnung – AufenthV). After the foreign citizen has entered German territory, the competent foreign citizens’ authority will grant him or her a residence permit in accordance with section 16b of the German Residence Act.

Requirements for residence permit according to section 16b of the German Residence Act (AufenthG)

In order to obtain a residence permit for the purpose of studying according to section 16b of the German Residence Act (AufenthG), the following requirements must be met pursuant to paragraph 5:

  • The foreign citizen must have been accepted by a recognised universityor a  similar educational institution for a course of studies . Universities, universities of applied sciences or art colleges count as a recognised university or similar educational institution.
  • If acceptance has not yet been granted, the residence permit can also be issued for measures to prepare for studies and the completion of a compulsory internship pursuant to section 16 b para. (1) sentence 2 no. 2 of the German Residence Act (AufenthG). Measures to prepare for studies include attending a preparatory language course if the foreign citizen has been accepted for a full-time course of studies and acceptance depends on the attendance of a preparatory language course, and the completion of a preparatory or similar course prior to studying if the foreign citizen can prove his or her acceptance for the preparatory or similar course.
  • The foreign citizen has adequate knowledge of the language as required for the course of studies. As a rule, corresponding evidence of language skills is already verified as part of the acceptance process at the university. Otherwise, the foreign citizens’ office or embassy may require such evidence.
  • The foreign citizen’s subsistence is ensured (the amount required for subsistence depends on the rate of the Federal Education Assistance Act (Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz – BAföG), which is currently 744.00 euros per month (see section 13 of the Federal Education Assistance Act (BAföG)). Evidence can be furnished in the form of a granted scholarship, a statement of the parents‘ financial circumstances, a declaration of commitment pursuant to section 68 of the German Residence Act (AufenthG) or other proof of income)
  • The foreign citizen has sufficient health insurance coverage.
  • There is no threat to public safety and order, and the foreign citizen has no previous convictions.

Legal remedies if a visa is refused

A remonstration can be lodged or legal action can be taken before the administrative court against the refusal of a visa.

In this case, the chances of success must be assessed according to the individual case and will also depend on why the authorities or embassies and foreign missions refused the visa. It is not uncommon that the grounds cited for their refusal are unlawful, so that the prospects of success can be rated as good.

Employment of the foreign citizen during a course of studies

According to section 16b para. (3) of the German Residence Act (AufenthG) the foreign citizen is permitted to take up employment or a part-time job alongside his or her studies, which may not exceed a limit of 120 working days per year.

In the first year of residence during a stay for measures that prepare for studying this is only permitted during holiday periods.

In the case of employment that exceeds the limit of 120 working days per year, the foreign citizens‘ office may grant its approval if the purpose of studying is not jeopardised.

Legal consequences in the case of a discontinuation of studies and change of the purpose of residence

The foreign citizens’ office may withdraw or revoke the residence permit or shorten its period of validity according to section 16b para. (6) of the German Residence Act (AufenthG) if the foreign citizen discontinues his or her studies and thus the purpose that led to the issuance of the residence permit ceases to exist. If the reasons that led to the purpose ceasing to exist are beyond the foreign citizen’s control, the foreign citizens’ office will grant him/her a period of 9 months to apply for admission to another educational institution

According to section 16b. para. (4) of the German Residence Act (AufenthG), the residence permit may also be issued for another purpose, e.g. after the discontinuation of studies, to pursue quality vocational training, for employment as a skilled worker, employment in a job requiring a high level of practical occupational skills as referred to in section 19c para. (2) of the German Residence Act (AufenthG) or in other cases where the foreign citizen is legally entitled to the issuance of a residence permit.

Important Note: This article has been prepared by lawyer Helmer Tieben for general information purposes only. Mr. Tieben does not accept any liability to any person or organisation for the use or reliance of the information contained in this article. On any specific matter, kindly contact us by dialing 0221 – 80187670 or sending us an email to info@mth-partner.de

Lawyers in Cologne provide legal advice on German immigration law.

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