International students from third countries

Since the adoption of the Skilled Immigration Act, persons who would like to come to Germany from a third country to study have been able to obtain a residence permit to search for a study place (according to § 17 of the Residence Act). The conditions under which you can come to Germany to look for a suitable place to study are explained in the Application Notes on the Skilled Immigration Act.

Usually, you will receive a temporary residence title for the purpose of studying, which allows you to stay in Germany for the duration of your studies (according to § 16 of the Residence Act). The time you are allowed to spend studying is limited. During your studies, this residence title currently allows you to work for 120 full or 240 half days or to get a taste of companies in the context of internships. Since this depends on the residence title, you should seek advice if you do not know exactly what your residence title is and what it entails.

You can get advice here:

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has compiled further information on the legal requirements for your stay in Germany in the brochure Studying and Working in Germany.

Termination of studies

If you have a temporary residence permit that is tied to your studies, it is no longer valid if you finish your studies without a degree. You must then apply for a residence title for another purpose or leave the country. If you are thinking about dropping out of your studies, get advice in time! For example, you can contact advice centers for residence law issues.

Once you have successfully completed your studies in Germany, it is usually possible to stay in Germany for a while longer with a new residence permit in order to find a job. The university counselling services for international students can help you with this and the residence counselling services can provide more detailed information.

You want to change your field of study or start an apprenticeship?

If you are not sure whether the study program you have chosen is the right one for you, you can find out about alternatives. There are various forms of study in Germany. Many subjects at universities involve mainly theoretical learning. However, there are also dual courses of study that are application-oriented and often include professional practice phases. Advice on study programs is also offered by the general student advisory services (allgemeine Studienberatungen) at universities.

Because changing your field of study can possibly affect your residence title, you should also seek advice on this. The following residence counselling services can help you further.


Vocational Training

In Germany, instead of studying, you can also do an apprenticeship to learn a profession. In doing so, you get to know the profession theoretically and usually also practically. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research offers information about the German training system in English.

A differentiation is made between school-based and dual in-company training. In dual in-company training, you learn the occupation directly in a company. This is why you can only do dual in-company training if you are also allowed to work. While you still have a residence permit for the purpose of studying, it is only possible in a few cases to start vocational training and get a new residence permit for it. It may be necessary to leave the country first and apply for a new visa from abroad. Due to the new regulations of the Skilled Immigration Act, it is possible to obtain a residence title to search for a training place (according to § 17 Residence Act). The requirements for a residence title to search for a training place are explained in the application notes of the Skilled Immigration Act. Questions and answers about new legal regulations resulting from the Skilled Immigration Act have been collected by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community. Before discontinuing your studies, you should seek advice on your options. For this purpose, it is advisable to first seek counselling on residence law issues.

You can find more information on the different types of training at Vocational Training and more on the website of the Federal Employment Agency.

The Welcome Centers in Berlin, BrandenburgLower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt provide helpful information and advice on access to training. The Chambers of Industry and Commerce and the Chambers of Crafts also offer advice.

Get advice!

Residence law issues are complex and often depend on details. The information presented here only serves as an informative overview and does not constitute legally binding information. We recommend that you always seek advice from a qualified body if you have questions about your legal status.