Friday, September 25, 2009

German Student Visa

When I finished this series of articles , I thought I was done but I am afraid this is going to be an ongoing process. I recently have been getting queries about visa experiences and so decided to add one about it to the series.

First of all, the good news is the getting a student visa for Germany is a lot easier and a lot less complicated than that of the US mainly because of the huge difference in tuition fee. To date, I personally do not know anyone who has had their German Student Visa rejected.

Before I go on to my experience, here are a few pointers:
  • Be on time: This is so basic that you would expect people should know this but no, there is always someone who comes in saying traffic jam (is this your first day in India ?!). If you are not from the city where the embassy is, try to figure out the day before, where it is located in and how you can get there. Do not let your life depend on an auto-rickshaw driver ! At the same time, there is no reason why you should sleep in front of the embassy; one is usually given an appointment or a time slot.
  • Dress normally: Don't be surprised if you hear a whole set of weird stories of how someone's visa got rejected because he was dressed in western clothes (apparently they assumed he will not want to come back to India) and how someone got it immediately just because she had sindoor ! Wear something you are comfortable in - be it a salwar or a formal shirt with slacks. There is no need to be attired in a suit but please avoid wearing faded and torn jeans !
  • Pay attention to detail: Take utmost care when you fill in forms. Ask someone to check it for you. Avoid spelling mistakes. Although a person in the VFS centre might check your documents he/she will not take interest in it like YOU will. Any mistakes are only going to affect you. Remember that !
  • Take ALL documents: Here is a list of documents you are asked to bring. If you read the document properly, you would have noticed - ''Please note that the German Consulate General reserves the right to ask for additional documents in single cases.'' All consulates have this in bold. This means you should be prepared with additional documents. Some examples could include your school leaving certificates, reference letters, any achievements (like a school or college scholarship), any correspondence with your professor in Germany offering you a research assistant (HiWi) position etc. You need not submit these documents but you can have them handy if they are needed during the interview.
  • Be prepared for obvious questions: why Germany, why a particular university or course, plans after studies, career plans, interest in getting settled in Germany etc. It would obviously be wise to know a bit about Germany and the city you are planning on going to. I heard a funny story of how someone said he likes Frankfurt because it is the capital city !
  • Learn German: Obviously you have a certificate but only YOU know how you got it. Try and brush up the basic German you have (hopefully) learnt. The interviewer knows you are a beginner, so he/she is not going to ask you questions that Angela Merkel should answer. You should be able to introduce yourself and answer simple questions like what university/city you are going to, where you live etc.
  • No electronics: Most consulates have a security check and make a fuss about electronic items, so avoid carrying anything other than what's absolutely required. No laptops, or cameras.
  • Don't panic: A visa reject is not going to end your life. Having this kind of attitude (don't push it to the extent of inefficiency though !) will help. Be confident in your approach and stay calm, this will help you think on your feet even when you are confronted with a tricky question.
I applied for my visa in December 2002 (this time limit should warn you of taking the information as-is) through a centre called TTS (I believe) that was officially handling visa applications. They checked my documents and gave me an appointment. My interview lasted 10 minutes. 4 weeks later, I got a letter saying I should come in with a DD of 7700 euro and my passport (this obviously means visa approved but they don't say so in the letter). I went in to submit my passport and DD. I got my passport 3 days later with my visa (valid for 3 months from the date of travel).

My Interview: I will do a Manirathnam style Q&A, from what I remember

Q: Why Germany ?
A: Sound educational system, affordable, love Europe

Q: Why Stuttgart ?
A: Industrial city, famous university - lots of cutting edge research

A: interested in electronics (I had'nt chosen a major then)

Q: Financial support ?
A: Bank loan, parents

Q: After Studies?
A: Will work in R&D

Q: Will you come back?
A: Most definitely

Q: How so?
A: My family is here, will work for a few years in Germany and return to my family (this is obviously something everyone says, but say it with conviction and not just because they expect to hear it)

Q: Any relatives in Germany ?
A: No (If you have a sibling in Germany that shares your last name, it will be prudent to tell them the truth. A very simple search will bring up your sibling's visa application)

Q:Have you learnt German?
A: yes

Q: Wo wohnen Sie ?
A: In Mandaveli (that's right, I had a german question :D)

...and that was it, nothing to worry about...! May yours be as simple, if not, you will just have a new visa experience to share :)
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