Any Canadians with experience getting a German student visa?
April 20, 2010 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Are there any Canadians with experience getting a German student visa? How long does this take in practice (versus how long they say it takes)?

Background: I was accepted today for an 8-week summer language program at a Goethe Institute in Germany funded by the DAAD (the German federal government's foreign-academic-funding-organization). They say in quite a number of places that I'll need a student visa. But...

1. Is a student visa really necessary? I've known people who've went to different well-respected programs (though not funded by the DAAD) where no one ever asked for a visa, and they never even thought to get one. Does anyone have experiences with either the DAAD or Goethe Institutes in this regard?

Also, today -- the day found out -- is exactly 7 weeks before the start of the program. Getting a criminal record check -- required for the visa -- will take 2 weeks. I requested that today. 5 weeks will remain if things are timely. But the German Consulate (Toronto) website says in various spots that the visa will take 10 business days, 3+ weeks, or 4-6 weeks. So...

2. What sort of processing time does this actually take? Does anyone have experience in this regard?

I'm dreading the absurd consequence that one branch of the German government will have funded me for a program which I won't have time to get permission to attend (from another branch of that goverment) before it actually starts. And so I wonder...

3. Do such things happen often? And do/can they expedite the process in any way based on these facts?

(Also, I'd have applied for the criminal record check sooner, but I was under the presumption that I wouldn't get the award, since they're hard to get and someone I think is far more qualified than I was rejected, and it seemed foolish to start shelling out money for items that I'd have been unlikely to need, given information at the time.)
posted by anonymous to Education (3 answers total)
Canadian here. Two years ago I went and lived in Germany for a year. It wasn't a student visa, just a general work visa, but it took 7 weeks for the visa to come through. The day before my flight, I looked and realized they had screwed something up on it, so I went down to the German consulate in Toronto, showed them the mistake, and they printed me a new one on the spot.

I don't know if that helps at all, I just know now that if they really need to (ie. you are able to show them that its an emergency) these long-wait type scenarios can be greatly expedited.

Oh and just so you know, bureaucracy in Germany is simply absurd. They have different offices for every type of permit you might need, everything is paperwork as opposed to computers, and nobody knows anything. Just do your best to have every possible piece of paperwork in order before going over there to save yourself a lot of heartache. I'm a pretty seasoned traveller and I was even close to tears after one particularly painful 10-hour auslandbehorde ampt. experience. On the plus side, you will have a new-found appreciation for Kafka!

good luck
posted by mannequito at 2:05 PM on April 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

The German embassy stipulates that Canadian citizens do not need a visa for a stay under three months. Even for long term stays, a visa is not necessary before leaving Canada. I suspect DAAD has a kind of "blanket statement" about student visas since citizens of many country do need a visa to enter Germany.

So I wouldn't bother about the visa.... They probably won't give you one anyway, since you don't need it.
posted by bluefrog at 8:36 PM on April 20, 2010

Canadians (as well as people from the US and half a dozen or so other countries) don't need visas for stays of fewer than three months. You also shouldn't need a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) for fewer than three months. Of course, just to be safe, this would be a great question to directly ask the DAAD or the Goethe Institut, since they deal with foreign students all the time and would certainly know if their programs have any unusual visa requirements.
posted by ubersturm at 9:29 PM on April 20, 2010

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