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Germany: visa waiting times “discouraging and demotivating”

Prospective students seeking to study in Germany were affected by multi-month visa waiting times at embassies around the world in 2019, with students in India, Morocco and Cameroon being affected by waiting times up to one year.

Germany - international student visa waiting times should be reducedOf the 375,000 international students in Germany in 2018, 282,000 were Bildungsauslaender – those students who completed their university entrance education overseas. Photo: pixabay

One in 10 international students in Germany comes from India, Cameroon and Morocco

According to the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, students applying at 24 embassies and missions had to wait over eight weeks to receive an appointment to apply for a visa.

“Multi-month visa waiting times are unacceptable and have a discouraging and demotivating effect for international talent,” Kai Gehring, the Greens’ spokesman for research and higher education policy, told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

Egypt, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were the only countries where students did not suffer from long delays at German embassies.

“Visa wait times of a year and more can hurt Germany’s appeal as a destination for international students,” Study.EU founder and CEO, Gerrit Bruno Blöss said.

“Multi-month visa waiting times are unacceptable”

“The problem is exacerbated by Germany’s commonly late application deadlines. For most courses, applications close from late May to mid-July, and offers are sometimes not sent before August.”

A Stifterverband policy paper, released in September 2019, found that long visa waiting times contributed to 38% of non-EU students it surveyed arriving in Germany after the start of the semester.

Of the 900 students asked, 18% arrived more than two weeks after the semester had begun in 2018.

“The government has started prioritising “highly qualified” applicants,” Blöss explained.

Students applying at the New Delhi embassy in India waiting times dropped from 28 weeks to 3 weeks if the applicant was qualified, a researcher or a scientist, data revealed.

Similarly Pakistani students applying in Islamabad waited for 42, while qualified students, researchers and scientists were waiting 37, 15 and 1 week(s), respectively.

Speaking with The PIE News, executive director of MyGermanUniversity Tobias Bargmann called on Germany’s five missions in India “to standardise and considerably simplify the process of obtaining a visa for Indian students”.

“It is a scandal why an Indian student – depending on the consular jurisdiction in which he or she falls – has to wait twice as long for a visa appointment,” he told The PIE.

The issue also results in some students missing preparatory language courses

Of the 282,000 Bildungsauslaender in 2018 – international students who completed their higher education entrance qualifications outside of Germany – India was the second largest source country after China, sending more than 17,000 students.

The visa waiting time problem is worrying, Bargmann added, since one in 10 international students in Germany comes from India, Cameroon and Morocco.

More broadly, the proportion of students reporting that they had very long visa waiting times to MyGU counsellors doubled in 2019.

The issue also results in some students missing preparatory language courses or orientation weeks, meaning they “start at a disadvantage from the outset”, Bargmann indicated.

“Due to the long waiting times when appointments are made and until the visa decision is made, it is virtually impossible for many students to plan their studies, so that they decide to study in other countries,” he said.

Chair of the German Association for International Education (DAIA) Martin Bickl said it is clear that German embassies must follow due process in granting visas.

“This may involve extensive background checks that may take a little longer,” he said.

“What is unacceptable, though, is that a small number of embassies make prospective students wait months for their first appointment in which evidence is submitted or verified.”

“How can a student convert an offer into an enrolment within four months when the waiting time for a first appointment is half a year?,” he asked.

The times also “send out a message of international students not being welcome, not being a priority for Germany”.

“[This] is what worries us most as Germany puts its reputation at risk,” he said.

“Students not being able to enrol is a personal loss for them but also a loss for Germany as a country looking to attract the world’s brightest minds to further advance its excellence in science and research.”

However, the organisation recognises the effort the Foreign Office is making to shorten visa appointment waiting times, Bickl said.

“I think we are on the right track. It will take a while for measures like additional visa processing staff to kick in but I am confident that within a couple of years Germany’s visa processing times will be back in line with its excellence in science and research,” Bickl noted.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) must improve cooperation with German missions abroad and German universities on the subject of visas, Bargmann added.

“All those involved must pull together on the visa issue,” he said.

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13 Responses to Germany: visa waiting times “discouraging and demotivating”

  1. Earlier, Germany embassy has waiting time of 45 days for Indian students. Now it is more than 90 days and that’s not sure. (You cant ask anything to Honorable consulate).

    I don’t know whether Germany has more number of students year by year or less staff or not interested to entertain more international students.

    One side, all EU countries need skilled professional and when you get such professionals who have studied in your country, then one should keep in mind that visa process should have less time.

    If you neglect students’ community who are required for Germany, then country has to suffer in long term by low figure of students in future.

  2. As Mr Patel rightly said, undue delay in the visa process creates frustration in students mind.

    In Sri Lanka, where i reside, visa interview appointment is generally given in about 3-4 weeks from the time of submitting application— but once the interview is done, there is a long wait to get the visa results.
    Some applications are sent to the foreign office in Germany from the local embassy after 4 to 5 weeks. Though we understand the foreign office completes their processing within a week, the local embassy delays further by several weeks. Its very unfortunate as the student is unable to do anything,, and by the time visa is issued, there is hardly anytime to plan travel process.
    We hope relevant authorities will lok into this.

  3. German Visa delay for student who have October 2021 intake after submitting the file on 26th July today is 2 sep didn’t get any update about visa after further processing on 12 August 2021
    They are wasting student time
    And their travel planing

    • Hi karan. Did you get any update regarding your student visa as I have also submitted my file on 2 August and after further processing on 12 August, still nothing happened

  4. The German Embassy in Sri Lanka seems to be in complete disarray. Visa’s are turned down for unfounded reasons in order to frustrate applicants and have them enter into a remonstration process that can take months. Particularly for family reunification being denied there should be ways of moving forward…

  5. Hi,
    I have applied for family reunion visa,3rd March 2021 i have submitted documents/original passport,,etc

    Till now no response!!!
    Don’t know whom to approach.

    Hope for the Best 🙂

  6. Hi
    I have applied for Family Reunion Visa on 3rd March 2021& still waiting,
    I don’t know whom to contact, where my original Documents are!!

    It’s really tough time.

    Kindly suggest

  7. Missed preparatory course, lost apartment spent one year gathering all papers ONE YEAR AND ONE MONTH 🤦🏽‍♀️🤷🏽‍♀️. Just crying waiting for advice

    • dear wish to ask if u finally succeeded in getting an appointment? Cus I’ve been waiting for mine over a year now too

  8. This is really awful. I’ve been waiting for a student visa appointment for 1 year now, but I see others who have asked for an appointment after me, not only getting an appointment but also travelling. But here I am, missed 1st enrollment and cancelled my Appartment booking. Am I going to loose 5 years of hard work this way! This is extremely saddening and there is no consideration in all embassies.
    They claim they have removed restrictions but they don’t still process the important visa demand sections. What is all this!!! This is terrible!! No future in all this!

  9. I have been waiting almost 10 weeks for my visa, and I have not received any update on when I will get it. This is so unmotivating. My semester already started and I am very late already. In addition, I waited six weeks to get my appointment.

  10. Students from Cameroon have to wait over a year for a visa appointment. What this means is that your admission letter expires before you ever get to the embassy. In the end no one gets a student visa from Cameroon.
    It’s a shame. Earlier on, COVID-19 was to blame, now that COVID is gone, things have gotten worse

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