General Information on Entry and Residence

Residency permit for studying vs Asylum procedure

If you come from abroad and want to study in Germany, you need permission to stay here to study. The options for obtaining a residence permit vary greatly depending on which country you come from.

You have no problem at all if you come from a country of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. This means that you can study wherever you want within Europe, provided you fulfil the requirements of the respective university.

The situation is different if you come from a so-called third country, i.e. a country outside of those mentioned above. In this case, it depends on whether you are travelling to Germany to study or whether you want to come to Germany for reasons of flight. As a person with a refugee background, it depends very much on your individual situation which legal residence options you have. We have described the requirements for a residence permit to study and an asylum procedure here for comparison. But there is much more. Come to our counselling service!

 In order to be able to study here, you need a residence permit to study in accordance with § 16b Residence Act (AufenthG). You can then freely choose your preferred university and the place where you would like to study.

This has the following requirements:

  • Valid passport
  • Proof that you can support yourself in Germany from your own resources (around €11,000 for one year)
  • Sufficient health insurance
  • Certificate of enrolment or conditional admission from the university to a full-time course of study
  • Proof of main residence in Berlin or rental agreement and landlord's confirmation of moving in

With the residence permit for study purposes according to § 16b AufenthG you can

  • Complete a subject-specific degree programme
  • you can work 140 full days and 280 half days or alternatively up to 20 hours/week during the lecture period and up to 40 hours/week during the lecture-free period as a working student. A special regulation applies for university-related activities. Ask our social counselling service for advice!
  • With a few exceptions, it is not possible to apply for social benefits.
  • No residence requirement
  • The residence permit should be issued for 2 years. Will be extended after re-examination if all requirements are still met.


You also have the option of first coming to Germany to prepare for your studies or for language courses. Ask the International Offices of the universities for advice.


You can find lots of important information about staying in Germany for studying on the website of the DAAD and the Federal Government.


If you are planning to stay in Germany not just to study, but to seek protection as a refugee due to a well-founded fear of persecution in your country of origin because of your ethnicity, religion, nationality, political beliefs or membership of a particular social group, then you may be able to apply for asylum in Germany.

But beware: the asylum procedure can be a lengthy and complex process which, depending on your country of origin, is often unsuccessful and involves many conditions. For example, you are not free to decide where you would like to live in Germany, but are allocated according to a specific key. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to change to a residence permit to study if the asylum procedure turns out to be negative for you.

You should therefore consider this step very carefully and seek advice!



To give you an idea of the asylum procedure, here is an overview of the process:

  • Arrival and registration in Germany
  • Initial allocation to the federal states
  • Registration and accommodation in the responsible reception center
  • Personal application to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)
  • Examination of the "Dublin procedure"
  • Personal interview at the BAMF
  • Possible decisions by the BAMF: recognition as a refugee (§§ 3 and 4 Asylum Act), determination of a ban on deportation (§ 60 section 5 and 6 Residence Act), rejection and deportation if your application was unsuccessful.

If you have decided to apply for asylum, you can generally study in Germany regardless of the status of the procedure, i.e. with a so-called permit or also with a tolerated stay permit if you have not been granted protection status.

If your asylum application is successful, you will receive a residence permit for a maximum of 3 years.

Further general information on the asylum procedure can be found, for example, on the website of the BAMF and the Berlin Refugee Council.

You can find an overview of specific study options depending on your residence status in the asylum procedure on the website of the German Rectors' Conference.


Disclaimer: The advice and assistance provided by the Center for Student Refugees is subject to careful examination of the content. However, we do not assume any liability for the content. All advice and assistance are of a general nature and cannot cover every individual case in a binding manner. If you have any further questions, we will be happy to help.