When I was first accepted to graduate school in Germany, I went straight to the Ausländerbehörde (foreigner’s office) to get my German student visa. However, I was a little disappointed when, instead of receiving a visa for the entirety of my two-year program, I was only issued a one-year visa.

Invalid German visa

So, I always knew that I would have to renew my residence permit before it expired on September 30, 2015. This is not only annoying because I had to go back to the soul-draining Ausländerbehörde, but a German student visa also costs around 70-120€ (it seems to be a different amount every time)!

Anyways, I was previously advised by the people at the Ausländerbehörde that foreigners should come in at least 3 weeks before the expiration of a visa, so I knew I wanted to go in around the end of August.

Normally, my local Ausländerbehörde only accepts walk-ins, which is always frustrating when you get a large family in front of you that requires a one hour (or longer) appointment. So, I was really happy when I checked their website and saw that they now do everything by appointment.

Since I hate phone calls, I wrote an email to the office to request an appointment. After my appointment was set up, the man replied with a list of everything I would need:

folgende Unterlagen bringen sie bitte mit:

  • Nationalpass (Passport)
  • Aufetnhaltserlaubnis (Residency permit/visa)
  • Nachweis Krankenversicherung (Proof of health insurance)
  • aktuelle Immatrikulationsbescheinigung (current proof of enrollment at the university)

You may notice that he didn’t mention anything about money. But I knew better, so I stopped by the ATM on my way there to withdraw 150€ (better safe than sorry).

My appointment at the Ausländerbehörde was scheduled for 9:50, but I didn’t get called in until 10:30. After handing all of the requested documents over to my case worker, he then asked for a new photo.


“Unfortunately, you did not mention that I needed to bring a photo in your email,” I replied in the politest German possible.

“Well, I need a current photo,” he answered quite bureaucratically (if that’s a word).

“I have a biometric picture with me, but it is the same picture that I used last time…” I was seriously worried that I would have to come back another day with new photos (but also thankful that I kept my extra biometric photos in my wallet).

The man contemplated whether or not he could accept the photo before reaching out his hand.

“How current do pictures need to be, anyways?” Marco chimed in, quite annoyed at the situation I was finding myself in.

“Less than 6 months.”


Gott sei Dank, the man accepted my photo, although he was not pleased. At least I know for the future that photos more than 6 months old are not “current” (nevermind the fact that driver’s licenses are valid for 15 years in this country).

Next came the topic of money. Since it was a Verlängerung (extension), it only costed 80€ (I guess that standard price for a new visa is over 100). I handed over a 100€ bill, which I had just picked up at the ATM. The man tried making a joke by asking if the bill was real, or if I had printed it myself. I didn’t laugh. He went into another room and came back with my receipt.

Receipt for my German student visaa

What he didn’t come back with was my change. So, I quickly remarked, “Where is my 20€?”

“That was a test. You passed.”

Not in the mood for sarcasm, we all just sat in silence while he finished typing things into his computer. After getting fingerprinted (yes, they fingerpint me everytime) and getting my change, I was ready to leave.


So, what I really needed to renew my student visa was:

  • Passport
  • Current residence permit/visa
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of enrollment at a university
  • Biometric photo
  • 80 Euro
Good luck to anyone that has to go to the Ausländerbehörde in the near future. I am happy that I just bought myself another year before I will have to return (although I do have to go back in a few weeks to pick up my new student visa… darn it).
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