For many international students looking to join Arden University, securing a visa in order to study can prove a difficult obstacle. We spoke to Shahab Kashif, who works as a Student Support & Study Centre Manager (Berlin) and is an Arden University alumni. He told us about the process, his own experience in securing a visa, and also offered some helpful advice for prospective students, to help them know what to expect when they get started.
“When you apply for Arden University Berlin [as an international student] most people do it through a consultant or advisor. When you apply for university, you’ll get an offer letter and, on the basis of that offer letter, you can apply for an appointment at the German Embassy based in your country.
When the time of the appointment arrives, you’ll go to the embassy to submit all the necessary documents. We provide students with an accommodation support letter, which shows to the embassy that, when they arrive here, we will help them with finding accommodation. Then there’s an interview in order to get the visa. Then, when you’ve got it, you can fly.”
This process means that students receive an entry visa, and it’s important to note that this is not a full residence permit, meaning there are some limitations to what you can do when you immediately arrive in Berlin.
“When students get their visa to come here, it is most likely on one that’s for three months or six months. If you come here on that visa, you are not allowed to work on it. To do that you have to apply for a student residence permit, which is for the year.”
Previously for undergraduate degrees, the government was granting a three years visa permit which would allow students to work on it, but recently the rules have changed in Germany.
“Even if you are studying for three years, they will give you one year, because they know that people will change their address, people will change their phone numbers. So after every year, students have to apply for a new residence permit.”
“To get the residence permit in Berlin, you need three things. The resident registration, to show that I'm living in this apartment. You need to have a bank account. And you need to have medical insurance. When you get these three things, then you apply for appointment and go and get the residence permit.”
When students receive that residence permit, it means they can work whilst studying, albeit with some restrictions in terms of how many days.
Many students find it easier to make use of a consultant or an agency to help them out with the application process, and to guide them through getting a visa.
“It’s not mandatory, but most people are doing it. When I was doing it, I went to an agent which a couple of my friends had already used when they came here. I went there and he gave me the form and course details. I selected one of the courses, filled the form in, and he sent it to Arden. He then received my enrollment letter, which he gave to me, booked me an appointment at the embassy, gave me guidance on the kinds of questions they would ask in the interview etc. In my case, it was quite quick. But now it can sometimes be quite time consuming.”
When students arrive in Berlin, they’ll have an on campus induction where they have to submit their visa, their Ameldung (which is a registration of their residence), and their German telephone number.
Many students had previously been making use of Your Degree Your Way, allowing them to start their studies from their home countries before coming across later. However, now students are expected to be at their inductions in person. Arden University does, however, have a policy that if, for any reason, a visa is rejected, we will offer students a refund.
The Visa also allows students the ability to travel within Europe. The visa that students get is a Schengen visa, allowing you to see different experiences around Germany and across various other countries in Europe covered by the Schengen agreement.
Before obtaining a Visa, students also have to demonstrate an ability to speak English with some proficiency, in order that they’ll be able to properly engage with their studies.
“When I applied, they said that you can either provide us an IELTS score or, if you have studied in English at a university, you can provide us a letter from your university. I provided the English proficiency letter, then someone from the recruitment team called me over Skype, and they had to chat with me for like, two, three minutes.”
Students will be required to do a language test and obtain a certificate from their own countries. Fortunately, these are quite easily available from many places.
Shahab also has some advice for students looking to start studying with Arden University soon. Especially for those looking to leave obtaining a visa until the very last minute.
“From September, if you don't have a visa, you cannot start on your course. You can defer your intake. But you cannot start your studies.”
He also has some words of warning for those who can sometimes be caught unaware by unexpected hold ups to the process.
“Most of the master's students, like me, have jobs, and what they do when they get an enrollment letter is they leave they their job. I would say it is not recommended to leave the job until they get a visa. They can offer their notice period, they can tell the employer that I'm going, but until they get the visa they shouldn’t leave because sometimes there is a long delay in getting the appointment for the visa.”
“It’s also not a surety that you get a visa when you have an appointment. There are cases when they have refused visas because of the language proficiency – because they don't know German and they don't speak very good English and when they say that, okay, so you're going to study in an English university and you don't speak English – how is it possible? We have seen cases where it was rejected.”
To find out how a degree from Arden University Berlin could help you achieve what you were born to do, visit our course pages