Avoid these mistakes as an international student in Germany to not lose your residence permit!

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German Bureaucracy can be very challenging for internationals. Especially tricky it gets when it’s concerning your residence permit. We’ve teamed up with migrando.de, go-to experts on residence permit for internationals in Germany, and will share the main mistakes you should avoid when dealing with the foreign office in this collaboration article (aka Ausländer:innenbehörde).

I myself was very worried each time I had to prolong my visa for studies and later also for the job. The perspective of needing to leave Germany or spend a lot of money because something went wrong or I missed an important detail was not in my plans. You can probably relate, right? Some possible consequences could also be not being able to get a permanent residence permit in the future or getting into legal trouble. Not my choice either. So let’s look at the main mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake 1: Not prolonging your Residence permit on time

When I was a student in Berlin it was tough getting an appointment at the foreigners’ office. We had to go there at 3-4 am to stand in line (and often there were around 50 people there already before you). And it wasn’t even guaranteed that you’d get in. Fun lottery German style, so to say. Nowadays it’s even tougher, from what we hear from our community members.

Nevertheless, take care of at least requesting it timely (2-4 weeks prior to expiration or even earlier). I know, usually, it’s for 2 years and it’s easy to forget. So add a reminder into your google-calendar for 2 months before it’s ending, or schedule an email to yourself. You’ll find a way. A simple email with your full name, the number of your ID & Passport, and a request for an appointment or a booked appointment is already enough for authorities to consider that you are taking care of the situation.

You might also get a Fiktionsbescheinigung (Temporary visa for a couple of months) for the time in between, which will enable you to travel even if your main visa is processing.

Mistake 2: Applying for a job seeker Visa without meeting the criteria

After my studies, I got a job-seeker visa and it was a great time. You can work as a freelancer as well as be employed. The challenge appeared when I had to change it to a normal working residence permit after 18 months.

I almost had to leave Germany when the foreign office didn’t want to accept my working documents multiple times, telling me it’s not as connected to my studies as it needs to be. It actually was very connected, but it wasn’t that clear from my contract. After adapting it and describing it in more detail, it worked well.

So main learning here is: Remember to request the change to a job-seeker visa as soon as you’ll know when you’ll finish your studies approximately. E.g. after you’ve submitted your final Thesis.

And make sure that your job and its description actually fit the degree you’ve got. Sometimes it just needs slight adaptations.

Sometimes also the salary size is an issue. Some years ago the minimum we heard about was 2.500€. It might depend on the region, city, and profession, so it’s just an orientation for you. Most probably they will not accept a Mindestlohn (minimum wage) for a skilled worker graduating in Germany. Keep this in mind when negotiating your salary.

Mistake 3: Not keeping your criminal record clean

I really hope this one is not and will never become relevant for you, but still important to consider: A clean criminal record.

Short summary: Don’t do anything illegal. Otherwise, it might lead to you losing your residence permit or never being able to get a permanent one.

We all know these situations when our friends are inviting us to do something not completely legal. If unsure, just don’t do it. The moment will pass and your visa will be safe.

Read more about specifics in the full article here.

Mistake 4: Leaving the university without securing your residence

When student life gets hard, the thought to stop your studies might come to your mind.
Even if you decide to do it in the end, check your available alternative options for residence permit.

Generally, don’t make a decision too fast. Talk to your university’s International Office, maybe the university psychologist or someone from your class. I played with these thoughts from time to time but then found motivation and energy again after taking a break.

Usually, you can reduce the amount of courses you take per semester or shift some exams to the next semester. No one will really look at the amount of semesters you need, and very few will check your grades. Main thing – you graduate.

I hope that I prevented you from making some common mistakes! Enjoy your studies in Germany!

Mikalai Vincheuski, DEGIS President
In collaboration with migrando.de



Our collaboration partner on this article migrando.de supports internationals to get their residence permit or citizenship faster and more secure, taking a lot of weight off your shoulders and preventing you from making common mistakes.

Check out their resources on migrando.de