Learning German at TANDEM: Information on your visa

Do you require a visa for entry to the Federal Republic of Germany?

  • People from EU and EWR states and from Switzerland do not require a visa and no subsequent residence permit.
  • People from Australia, Brazil, Israel, Japan, Canada, (South) Korea, New Zealand and the USA do not need a visa for entry to Germany. Those who intend to stay longer than 3 months have to apply for a residence permit for studying with the immigration department in charge.
  • People from all other countries require a visa for entry and have to apply for this at the German embassy or consulate in their home country. They must be prepared to wait for up to three months before their application is processed.

You will find an overview of visa requirements here.


What kind of visa would you like to apply for?


Visa for language learning (general language course)

A language course visa entitles you to take part in a language course only. One of the requirements is a booking confirmation of a German language course of a minimum of 20 class hours per week. This kind of visa is initially issued for 3 months and can be extended by the immigration authority in Hamburg for a further 9 month period.


Visa for study applicants

If you have not yet gained admission from a German university, you may apply for this visa. It is generally valid for 3 months, and can be extended in Germany for up to 6 months more. As a special prerequisite here you need to be able to show a confirmation of application by the university you would like to attend. Within the time limit mentioned above, you must prove to be in possession of either an admission to a study course or a confirmed booking of a preparatory German course. This visa may then be changed into a limited residence permit for the duration of your university studies.


Visa for study purposes / for study preparation

If you would like to join a German language course before beginning your university studies or if you already have admission from your German university, you are entitled to this type of visa. Please note: At the embassy, you should mention that this course is meant to prepare you for your studies. 6 weeks prior to the visa's expiry, you should then apply for a residence permit for study purposes. This gives you up to  two years' time to take part in so-called study preparation activities (e.g. a language course or a course at Studienkolleg). Prerequisites for this type of visa are our booking confirmation for intensive German courses aimed at the TestDaF, plus the application confirmation of a university and a passed university admission eligibility examination (or highschool diploma) in your country.

Requirements for a confirmation of an intensive German course at TANDEM Hamburg

  • Your completed application form
  • An advance payment of the following amount:
    a) a lump sum of € 560.00 for a booking of up to 12 weeks
    b) a lump sum of € 1,500.00 for a booking over 13 weeks
    c) € 200.00 of this advance payment is considered a security deposit. If no contract between TANDEM Hamburg and you is concluded, fees already paid exceeding the security deposit will be returned to you immediately. 
  • Some embassies and consulates do however expect you to pay the whole amount of the course fees before you apply for the visa.
  • In urgent cases we will send you all documents by courier (e.g. DHL) for a fee of € 90.00.

Visa: Problems or rejection

Please let us know immediately if you have to postpone your arrival due to delays in the application process. If you wish, we can postpone your start dates accordingly. The first change of booking to this effect is free; for all following changes of start dates we charge € 50.00.

If your application should be rejected, we would need to see the notice of rejection. After this has been sent to us, we are reimbursing your initial payment minus the security deposit of € 200.00 plus costs incurred such as courier service or bank fees, if applicable.

FYI (for your information)

A visa is a document saying you have been approved to enter the Federal Republic of Germany. A visa can only be applied for outside the Federal Republic of Germany (in your home country).

A residence permit is a document granting you the right to stay and live in the Federal Republic of Germany for a certain limited period of time. You must have a valid reason for wanting to reside in Germany (e.g. studying). A residence permit can only be applied for after entering the Federal Republic of Germany (in Hamburg, the Hamburg Welcome Center or the immigration departments of the districts, the "Bezirksämter", are in charge). The residence permit is issued as an electronic residence title in a credit card form.

Further requirements for a visa

We recommend you ask for information in time at the German embassy in your home country or the relevant consulate in order to find out what the concrete requirements and conditions are for you.

In general, here is what you need:

  • You must demonstrate to the Foreigners Registration Department the sources from which you are financing your studies. The minimum amount is the maximum subsidy according to the federal law on individual subsidising of education, currently 659 euros per month. You must show proof that you have this monthly sum for the whole period which you are applying for, usually for at least a year. This amounts to a sum of € 8,640.00 per year.
  • a valid passport

  • a completed application form (in German)

  • biometric photographs (not more than six months old)

  • a confirmation of continuous health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay

  • a motivational letter and a resumé/CV

  • possibly a proof of German language competence already acquired


  • A tourist visa CANNOT be converted into a residence permit for purposes of study

  • A visa for language learning CANNOT be converted into a residence permit for university application or preparation for studies.


Application forms

  • Application on granting/extending a residence title (in several languages)

  • Forms for registration, de-registration or changing lodgings and further pieces of information

Interesting publications

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