Germany is one of the most advanced countries in the world. The country has a very powerful economy, a highly skilled population, is the birthplace of a number of acclaimed multinational corporations, has some of the most scenic places on the planet, and so much more. The education system in Deutschland (the German word for Germany) has played a major role in uplifting this nation from the ashes of the Second World War. Each year, Germany welcomes scores of international students in its hundreds of universities. The standard of education in the country is kept very high, and significant attention is paid towards research and development in every field, specifically towards IT, engineering, mathematics, communication, biotechnology, nanotechnology, mechanics, and so on. Once done with their studies, the graduates of these prestigious institutions are all set to make a mark in their respective areas of study and to serve their countries of origin in the best possible manner. Other than this, aiming for doctoral studies or working in a firm in Germany are also some of the options available to students. While pursing my student visa for Master’s in Germany, I did face some hurdles, but if one is completely aware of the entire visa application process and is able enough to secure funds for one’s education during the tenure of the degree, the process seems rather simple and pursuable. Through this blog, I intend to share the details of the steps involved in applying for a study visa in Germany (for Pakistani students, at Master’s level), and I hope that this writing will benefit anyone aspiring for higher education in this amazing country. Before getting started, I would like to bring it into notice that in the past German universities all over the country would not charge any tuition fees regardless of the level of education one intended to pursue. However, this is changing now, and a number of German universities now charge up-to €1500 per semester as tuition fees along with a certain amount referred to as a ‘semester ticket’. Therefore, it would be wise to know whether or not the university one intends to apply to has tuition fees or not. One can also look up for DAAD scholarships, if available in one’s intended area of study. And also (very importantly), do not involve any consultant(s) in this whole process! The German ambassador to Pakistan specifically tweeted about this, so please make sure that one does not head to any consultant(s) for the entire process; it is very simple and can be done without seeking professional assistance. Securing admission Before initiating the student visa application process, one needs to secure admission in a university. Each university has its own website, with program details, contact details, and all the information one is looking for. Do not hesitate in contacting the representatives of the institution in case one has any queries (trust me, they always respond and are very understanding). Every university has an online admission portal. Make an account on the portal, go through all the information available there regarding the application process, upload scanned copies of all the required documents (previous mark-sheets, degrees, transcripts, picture, etc.). Upload the CV and a motivation letter (if they ask for it). Make sure to provide all the up-to-date information that is asked and that too, with complete honesty. Also, be aware of the language of instruction of one’s intended degree program, as it would be offered in either German or in English. The university would require proficiency in English (IELTS score) or in German (A1-level or onwards), in order to grant admission. Be mindful of the time taken by the university to make a decision regarding one’s case; stay in contact with the university representatives, and keep checking the email inbox and the admission portal. At times, the university asks for a Skype interview with the candidate. Be prepared to answer the questions concerning one’s area of study, previous academic details, future goals, etc. Once satisfied, the university shall forward the acceptance letter or certificate, on the basis of which, one can apply for a student visa in the German embassy. At times, the admission to a certain degree program might have certain conditions to it which would have to be fulfilled before beginning one’s Master’s degree. Any such conditions shall be clearly mentioned in the acceptance letter and can be fulfilled by the applicant after arriving in Germany. Do ask the university representatives about accommodation details, and apply for accommodation in a dorm or apartment accordingly. If one is unable to secure admission in a certain institution, one should not give up the will and should consider applying to other universities. Degree attestation Make sure that all of one’s original academic degrees and mark-sheets are attested. Have the bachelor’s degree and transcript(s) attested from HEC (an online appointment shall be needed for this) and have the matriculation and intermediate mark-sheets (or O-level, A-level results) attested from the IBCC (Inter-Board Committee Chairman) from the concerned Board Office. It is also good to have one’s bachelor’s degree and transcripts attested from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (attestation from MOFA is done following attestation from HEC). Embassy website All the information required regarding the necessary documents that have to be presented at the embassy during the student visa interview is available at the embassy website. Make sure to check it often and to download the list of documents that are to be submitted along with the visa application form, as this list is utmost helpful. The German Embassy in Islamabad deals with the visa applications of the applicants belonging to Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and other regions of Pakistan, whereas the Consulate in Karachi deals specifically with the applications from Sindh and Baluchistan. The Consulate in Lahore does not deal with the visa applications but is concerned with other minor aspects. Opening a blocked student’s account in a German bank After securing the admission, a blocked student’s account has to be opened in a German bank. A blocked account, basically, secures the funds one shall be utilising during the course of one’s study and is very easily accessible. These funds can be spent on accommodation, shopping, groceries, traveling, health insurance, and so on. The account holder can withdraw up to a certain amount every month during their stay in Germany. The two leading German banking institutions dealing with this are the Deutsche Bank (DB) and Fintiba. In my case, I opened a blocked account with DB, so I shall be sharing the details concerning this very bank. The blocked account application form is available on the internet, and can easily be downloaded and filled, as a complete guideline is made available with the application form. Once the application has been filled, one has to make an appointment with the German consulate in Lahore or Karachi or the Embassy in Islamabad (based on feasibility) in order to verify the account opening form. Along with the filled application form for the blocked account, copies of verified previous academic transcripts, acceptance letter from the German university, bank statements of a Pakistani bank account having amount equivalent to that which shall be submitted (in Euros) in the blocked account on an annual basis, copies of passport, and an application to verify the blocked account form have to be submitted. Once the verification letter has been issued, the account opening form, along with the documents mentioned above have to be dispatched to the DB head office in Germany for further processing. Within two weeks, DB shall intimate via email or post the details of one’s newly opened blocked account, and the blocked amount (€8970/- or more) can now be transferred to the account from any money exchange in Pakistan. Another mail shall be received from DB after three or four working days following the success of the transaction. This mail shall contain details of the amount present in one’s blocked account after the minor deduction of certain charges by the bank, and is evidence of one’s funds during one’s stay in Germany. It needs to be mentioned here that it is preferred to transfer funds of one year to the blocked account. The embassy shall intimate any visa applicant if it feels that further funds need to be transferred to the blocked account in order to ensure a financially trouble-free stay in Germany. Taking an online appointment for the study visa interview One needs to take an online appointment at the embassy website for the study visa interview (which will take place either at the embassy in Islamabad, or the consulate in Karachi, based on whichever province one belongs to). Make sure to head to the long-term visa section available at the website for the study visa interview. Provide the correct, up-to-date information while taking an appointment. It is recommended to take an appointment months before the beginning of one’s study period in Germany. If in case, one will not be able to appear for the student visa interview, it is one’s duty to cancel the appointment, providing an opportunity to the other applicants to appear for their interviews at the set date and time. One can also download the long-term visa application form from the website, and fill it with ease as it is bilingual (English and German). Bank statements of sponsor The applicant shall need to provide bank statements of the sponsor, dating back to the last six months or a year. The amount present in the bank should be no less than that which is equivalent to the one that is to be transferred (in Euros) to the blocked account for the second year’s expenses. It is recommended to provide the source(s) of income of one’s sponsor, in order to ensure transparency, and also to affirm (through an affidavit) the sponsor’s commitment to providing funding during the entire study period. Travel health insurance A feasible travel health insurance covering all Schengen states, valid for six months, has to be provided at the embassy along with the other documents. Once in Germany, the student has to take health insurance offered by either a public or a private sector German health insurance institution. Other documents One is in need of a passport with validity no less than the period of study in Germany in order to apply for a student visa. One is required to submit biometric pictures (not passport-sized pictures) at the time of the interview; make sure to take the pictures having the correct dimensions and background color (all information is available at the embassy website). The applicant is also required to have a polio certificate with him or her at the time of the interview. Experience certificates regarding previous professional services are also required. Be sure to make at least three sets of copies of all original documents that are required at the embassy, and to have them notarized. Do not staple any documents, use paper clips to hold them together. The documents have to be arranged in a specific format as is mentioned at the embassy website. Student visa interview Make sure that one arrives at the embassy (or the Karachi consulate) at least 30 minutes or an hour before the scheduled time of one’s interview. Answer all questions with utmost honesty, and confidence. Do not lie or hold back important information as it shall have a negative effect on one’s visa application. The visa officer has every right to know more about the applicant. Therefore, answer each and every question in a cool and calm manner; do not contradict any previous statements that have been made. The visa officer might ask the applicant to provide answers to certain questions in writing. Once the interview is done, the applicant shall be asked to pay the visa application fees, and the courier charges (amount mentioned on the embassy website). The embassy shall intimate the applicant later if the submission of further documents is required in order to attain the student visa. The visa processing can take about a month, or a little above it. Be patient. The courier services shall dispatch one’s passport (with or without the visa in it) at one’s mailing address once the processing is done. The validity of the visa shall either be 3 months or 6 months and can be extended after arriving in Germany. If, unfortunately, one is unable to secure the student visa, the parcel containing the passport shall also have a document having details of reasons related to the failure to secure a student visa. This document is to be dispatched to the Deutsche Bank headquarters (or any other bank with which one is maintaining the blocked account) in order to retrieve one’s blocked amount. This entire process is indeed time, and energy consuming, but is absolutely worth it. I hope this information helps any individual seeking quality higher education in one of the most student-friendly countries of the world. P.S. The author claims no responsibility if, in any case, an applicant is unable to secure a German student visa after following the aforementioned guidelines. It worked for me. It may or may not work for someone else. All the best, though!