…and Stay in the EU for Up to a Year
So you want to live in Europe for a while? Do you dream of wandering the canals in Amsterdam, eating waffles in Belgium and getting a tan on the beaches of Spain? With so many countries and cultures to explore within a relatively small area – not to mention the amazing food, wine, and natural beauty – it’s easy to come to the region and never want to leave!
If hiking and skiing in Bavaria or celebrating Karneval in Köln sounds like your ideal life, then listen to this – there is a very easy way to get a residence permit in Germany for up to a year.
Germany offers a variety of residence permit options for foreigners. Naturally, you have to jump through some hoops – but it’ll all be worth it when you’re looking out over rolling hills from atop a centuries-old castle (or partying the night away in Berlin). This post covers everything you need to get a residence permit for learning German via an Intensive German Language Course.
Most people who get this permit come to Germany, do a course and then leave soon after. Although an intensive German language course usually lasts 2 -2 ½ months, most people don’t realize that you can stay in the country up to a year. So if you’re looking for a way to circumvent the Schengen Area’s 90-180 rule, this is a good option.
The most common type of visa issued to the travelers (tourist visa) can reach the maximum of 90 days in every six month period starting from the date of entry.
This is the Schengen Rule in a nutshell. Fortunately, I found a way to get around it! Tons of people have asked me how I did this, and people I meet on the road are always curious about it – so here is the low down!
Apply for a German Language Course Visa -Required Documents
Here is everything you’ll need to apply for German Language Course Visa (it’s actually a residence permit but often referred to as a visa). The following documents will need to be turned in at an in-person appointment at the local Ausländerbehörde (foreigners Authority).
Valid Passport – Valid for at least 3 months after your planned date of return, and with at least 2 extra pages.
1 Current Biometric Photo – you can get this done at a photo shop or a photo booth, often found in the train station, specifically for passport photos. Costs less than 10 Euros.
The Form “Antrag auf Erteilung eines Aufenthaltstitels” (Application for Issuance of a Residence Permit) – available in German, English, French, Italian, Greek, Turkish, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian. There is a spot on there that asks how long you want to stay – you can put a date of up to 1 year after your arrival.
Proof of Registration for Intensive Language Course – Your language course must be intensive – defined as at least 18 lesson-hours per week (15 hours per week M – F). Cost will be between 600 – 1000 Euros for an 8-9 week course. Let your school know you’ll be applying for a visa, and they’ll give you a registration confirmation letter you can take to the authorities.
Proof of Residence in Germany – To get the correct paper, you need to register your address at the Bürgeramt (citizen office). Bring written confirmation of occupancy from the landlord and then keep the stamped paper they give you at the Bürgeramt. Bring it with you to your appointment at the Ausländerbehörde. Facebook expat or housing groups are helpful places to find a “WG” (shared flat). Or, ask your school if they can assist.
Proof of Health Insurance – Any statutory health insurance will do. Travelers’ health insurance will also suffice for the duration of the time that you want to stay. I found a super cheap policy from Allianz that covered me across the entire world for $79 US for a year. MAVISTA is another cheap option for expats.
Means of Subsistence – The authorities want to see proof that you can support yourself during your stay. Around 8,500 – 9,000 Euro per year is enough. I printed out a statement from my US bank and that worked fine. You could also show a statement from a German bank account if you have one, a scholarship award certificate, or a written and notarized confirmation from your parents or sponsor that he/she will cover your costs.
How to Stay in Germany for Up to a Year – What To Do First?
I recommend you try to find a residence first, as that could take some time. Then sign up for the course, make an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde, and gather your documents in the meantime. It can take a while to get your appointment at the foreigner’s office, so give yourself plenty of time. You can do some of this from your home country if you want. I did it all while in Germany. Note that at German Behördes, it’s always helpful to bring a translator.
Yes, this residence permit lets you travel freely around the entire EU, plus you have multiple entries so you can travel to nearby places outside the EU or visit home. Whatever! During my year I traveled to Switzerland, Budapest, Spain, Bosnia and Herzegovina and much more…
Note: whether you actually attend the course is up to you. There are plenty of people who register just to get the visa and don’t actually do the course. No one is checking up on you, but in my opinion, you have to pay for it so might as well do it. And if you’re going to be in the country for a while, people will appreciate you making an effort to communicate in their language. Two-month German course, then the rest of the time is yours to do whatever you want with. Pretty cool, right?
You’ll get an Ausweise (ID card) with your length of stay info on it, and also electronic access to your stay info. You are not allowed to work during your stay in Germany. There’s another visa for that, but that’s another blog post (coming soon!)
Germans are known for being bureaucratic, but the process was actually pretty easy! My officer at the Ausländerbehörde seemed to be most concerned about the insurance, residence, and proof of registration to the course (of course you’ll need everything on the list though!) Since I had done my homework and had everything together it was Stamp, stamp, stamp. Here you go. Tschüß! (Goodbye) Easy as pie.
Here is the info as posted on the official Stadtportal website for Berlin. I did my course in Bonn, and all the requirements were the same. Now, you can get started learning all those German words with 28 letters in them…
Still have questions? Shoot me a message or a comment!