Learning German in Jena

An epic guide: German Language Visa application to learn German in Germany*

*For Malaysians

For the life of me, if I don’t know why you’d want to learn German in the first place. It’s difficult (trust me, it is), it takes forever to master and it’ll take you a lifetime before you could pass off as a German native speaker. However, if you’re doing it out of love, for a university programme, or if you’re just plain masochistic, well then, where else would you rather learn German but in Germany? I don’t need to extol here the benefits of learning the language at the country of its origin and embracing the experience of living abroad so I’ll just get on right to how to go about applying for the German Language Visa.


First of all, if you find a programme that could be completed in three months, you could just sign up and learn it on a regular “tourist visa”. For Malaysians, we could enter and stay within the EU/Schengen zone  for 90 days within 180 days without a visa. Which means, you have 90 days to remain and travel freely within the Schengen area.

However, once you’ve used up your 90 days, you’d need to LEAVE the Schengen area and stay away for 90 days before you’re allowed to enter again. Now if you fancy beating the system, be my guest. But if you do get caught, you could be deported, blacklisted, be fined or be jailed; hence in my opinion–not worth the risk.


This blog post won’t tell you which German course to take up since that’s personal and it highly depends on your goals and needs. Neither would I tell you which city to do it in, because almost every large enough town or city would have organisations, schools and language institutes that offer German courses, with a wide range of teaching methods, program goals, and prices.


However, if you’re like me, and ended up in a small village, you might have to look to the next bigger city to see if they’ve got something there.


Getting Started: The German Language Visa


If you’re planning for a German course that will last more than 3 months (and without the intention of being prepped up for further tertiary studies in Germany), you are then obligated to apply for the German Language Visa.


Now unfortunately, this visa was more complicated than I’d imagined. It took more documents and effort than applying for a 3-year Australian student visa. But don’t let that get you down.


As long as you meet all their requirements and file the application accordingly, there is no reason for a rejection.


Once again, go HERE for the checklist of the documents you needed. 


I insist that you look at the checklist before coming back to read this blog post further. Once you’re done, you might have questions, which I will try to address within this post and at the end, some FAQs.


Do also note that, this is guide stems from my personal experience for the visa and am not an agent, nor an expert nor the Immigration Officer.


Things to note:


  1. 2 duly completed Residence Permit Form
  2. 2 recent biometric Passport-size Photos (grey/white background)
  3. Acceptance Letter from a Language Institute Of Your Choice (min. 20 hours a week)
  4. A Curriculum Vitae (yes, like as if you’re applying for a job) and Proof of your academic qualifications (University certs would suffice)
  5. Motivation Letter (like a Cover Letter, stating why you want to learn German in Germany)
  6. Means of Subsistence (means, you got money or not?)
  7. Visa Fee: € 60 (payable in Ringgit and Cash)
  8. Processing time: 6 to 8 weeks (I got mine approved by the 7th week.)


Next Steps:

1. Research where you’d like to study and apply for the course. The course must be at least 20 hours a week to meet visa requirements. Those twice-a-week courses don’t count so don’t apply for them!


For me, I’d applied for an Intensive 25-hour a week Integration Course which lasted about 11 months. The IIK Language & Cultural Institute that I was studying at, had intensive German language programmes to help integrate migrants and refugees, but because I wasn’t a refugee I had to pay about € 254 per month.

I started from A1.2 and completed the B2 level. I’d initially did a quick 4 week programme in the Volkshochschule of Jena but it was more of a 2 x 90 minute lesson a week in the weekends. This course was done when I was still on a tourist visa.


2. Once you get a Letter of Acceptance from the course, you can now fill out the Residence Form. Make sure you fill out 2 of the same forms. Get the form here: Residence Permit Forms


3. Get your visa photos and Proof of Qualifications ready, write your CV and Motivation Letter


4. How would you prove your means of subsistence?

There are mainly three ways as stated here:

  • Scholarship
  • Formal Obligation (Verpliftungserklärung)
  • Blocked Bank Account



If you have a scholarship, then you could photocopy your scholarship forms to prove that your financial means are taken care of. However, chances are, your choices are narrowed down to these two: Blocked Bank Account or Formal Obligation.


Blocked Bank Account

I didn’t do a Blocked Bank Account, so I’ve no personal experiences to share with you.


But it’s basically the opening of a German bank account, where you’ve to bank in min. €8640 ( for studies up to a year.) You’re only allowed to withdraw €720 a month from that account to support your living and study expenses. It’s ‘blocked’ so that they’re certain that you are going to be supported financially within your time here in Germany.


To find out how to open a Blocked Account, go here.


Formal Obligation

Formal Obligation means, you have someone in Germany or abroad to financially sponsor you or at least obliged to take care of all your needs. So it isn’t going to be a German traveller that you met while travelling because he or she is legally obliged to care for you.


However, it could be anyone, living in Germany or abroad. They’d then need to get this Formal Obligation (Verpliftungserklärung) document from a German consulate or Ausländerbehörde (a Foreigner’s Office found in every town/municipality in Germany) by showing them an ID/passport, the latest 3 months of pay slips (salary has to be more than €1200, after rental deduction) apartment lease and a work contract.


Now these documents could change based on the demands of each consulate or Ausländerbehörde.


5. Once you’ve all your documents and passport ready, find out the opening and closing times of the German Embassy and make an online appointment


Everything else is pretty straight-forward after that. Don’t miss your appointment and my tip is, make sure you’ve got your documents sorted out neatly. You might also want to make copies of your CV, Motivation Letter, Proof of Qualifications, Formal Obligation, just in case they might need them.


learn German in Germany


FAQs (Everything Else)


  1. Once you get the visa from the German embassy, is that it?

No, that isn’t all. You’ll see that your visa will expire within 3 months. When you get into Germany, and once you know where you’ll be staying, you’ll need to go to the Ausländerbehörde to get an extension of your visa. This extension will be largely based on the duration of your enrollment in a language institute of your choice. Say for example, if your course is till June 2017, then you’ll be allowed to stay till June 2017. You won’t get another visa sticker on your passport but rather in a form of an identification card called the Aufenthaltstitel .


  1. How do I find a place a stay?

I didn’t have to find one since I was living with my partner but if you do need a room, you’ll probably be looking at a shared home (Wohngemeinschaft, in short–WG). Check these links out for more information:

This German Life-The Perfect WG 

A Student’s New Home-Finding a WG


  1. Do you need health insurance?

As a matter of fact, you do. Everyone needs health insurance in Germany, including the Germans! I’m not sure why it’s not written on the checklist but I remember it was mandatory when I applied for it. I got CareConcept which seemed fine. 

Everything was applied and dealt with online. However, I didn’t get sick or injured so I can’t comment if it was any good! But application was fast and without hassle.


  1. Can I stay for 2 years?

No, the visa requirements stipulated that you can only have a maximum of one-year stay.


  1. Can I get a one-way ticket to Germany?

Yes, you can!


  1. Which language institute should I attend?

Any, as long as the course that you’re enrolled in, offers 20hrs of German lessons a week. Volkshochschule (a sort of community college) in bigger cities are usually cheaper than private institutes. Some language institutes, for example, IIK Jena, the one that I attended is subsidised by the government. You could also check out language courses in universities, and so on.


  1. Can I apply for this visa in Germany itself?

No. You have to do this at the Malaysian embassy (if you’re a Malaysian, that is).


If there’s anything else I’ve missed, do shoot me a message and I’ll add your question to the FAQ. However, if your question has already been addressed above, then you probably won’t hear from me.


Ying Tey
Ying Tey (Piccola Ying) is a Malaysian freelance writer based in Germany. She's always in the pursuit of adventures and tales; so far, she's chalked up 68 countries to date. She'd previously funded her travels by teaching English on Costa Cruise Ships (yes–including the one that sank!), by making caffè lattes in London and Melbourne, and by writing copy for a Singaporean advertising agency, that persuades you to buy a Mini Cooper instead of a Toyota.

Today, she just wants to inspire you with stories that will make you take the path less travelled.

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