A large country in central Europe containing 16 states and a member of the European Union, Germany is officially referred to as the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) and holds much political and economical influence among all other EU countries. The Chancellor presides over Germany's democratic government that enforces a system of law based on principles described in the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany.
Essential Facts about Germany
- The sixteen states comprising Germany are called Länder, with each state possessing its own constitution.
- Contributions by Germans to the fields of science, mathematics and technology cannot be emphasized enough. Brilliant individuals like Einstein, Max Planck, Herman von Helmholtz, Johannes Gutenberg, Gottfried Leibniz and Carl Gauss are just a few German scientists who have supplied the world with famous inventions.
- Germany is one of the world's most technologically advanced manufacturers of coal, iron, cement, steel, machinery, vehicles and chemicals. It also has large investments in green energy, especially solar power and the use of windmills for electricity.
- Popular tourist attractions in Germany include the Bavarian Alps, the Black Forest, the Rhine Valley and its ancient castles and the artsy capital Berlin.
Germany's Legal System
Three sets of regulatory laws comprise Germany's legal system: public, private and criminal law. Public law (also includes criminal law) deals with legal matters between an individual and the state. Private law mediates relationships between companies and two or more people. Germany law is highly influenced by Roman law as well as Napoleonic law, or the Napoleonic Code.
Judges play an active role in Germany's legal procedural system. Although similar to the type of legal system used by other democratically run countries, Germany does not have jury trials due powers allocated to a judge that allow him to make a final decision. One judge or several judges can comprise a "tribunal", which is essentially a substitute for a jury. Lay judges, or citizens who are chosen by a special committee before a trial begins, can also be included in a tribunal. In Germany, ordinary courts hear matters concerning marriage, criminal, family and civil disputes. Alternately, special administrative courts hear cases involving government actions. Labor, financial and social law courts are other specialized German courts that adjudicate cases related to work, taxes and social benefits.
Study Law in Germany
Obtaining a German Law Degree
To earn a law degree in Germany, students must take two state exams and go through a 6 year long curriculum. First, students must pass the First State Examination at the end of 4 years of undergraduate studies. They must then take a two-year internship (called Referendarzeit) to gain experience in all facets of the legal system. Finally, a second State Examination is given to students finishing the two years of legal internships in criminal and civil court. During the internship, students must also take classes taught by lawyers or judges. Wages paid to the student are provided by the German government. Potential lawyers in Germany have two chances to pass State Examinations. After passing both examinations, the student is considered qualified to seek employment as a judge or a lawyer.
Higher education costs are heavily subsidized by the German government and are relatively low in comparison to U.S. tuition costs, unless a student elects to seek a law degree at a private university.
Germany's unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the European Union. International students opting to earn a law degree in Germany and pursue employment are likely to find a position soon after passing the Second Exam.
For students from the EU and from Iceland, Norway, Switzerland or Liechtenstein, it is only necessary to have an identity card to enter Germany. It is not necessary to have a student visa.
Students from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea, and the USA can apply for their visa after having arrived in Germany. For students from other countries, it is necessary to apply for a student visa before coming to Germany.
If staying less than 90 days in Germany, there are even more regulations. Citizens from certain countries can enter Germany for 90 days without a visa. These are Venezuela, Vatican City, Uruguay, Singapore, Seychelles, Paraguay, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, Mauritius, Malaysia, Macau, Croatia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Chile, Brunei, Brazil, Bolivia, Bermuda, Barbados, Bahamas, and Argentina.
Visit the website of the German Federal Foreign Office for the latest visa requirements for all countries.
There are three types of visa for study purposes in Germany:
- Language Course Visa (Visa for Language Learning) – the perfect option for those that want to learn the German language in Germany.
- Student Applicant Visa (Visum Zur Studienbewerbung) – if you want to study in Germany, but are still trying to find the right program or you still haven’t got the confirmation letter from your University.
- Student Visa (Visum Zu Studienzwecken) – if you have already been accepted to a German university.
You will need to apply for your visa at the German embassy or consulate in your home country. First, you need to schedule an appointment for a visa interview. On the day of the interview, you should offer your visa application documents. You will typically need a letter showing you’ve been accepted by a German university, a certificate of German language proficiency or proof that you intend on attending a language course in Germany (if studying in German), proof of sufficient funds to support yourself while living in Germany, and health insurance, among others.
The processing time for a Germany long-stay study visa may take 6-12 weeks from the application day. Short-stay study visas are usually decided within 15-30 days by the German missions abroad. In any case, you should apply as soon as possible, and at least three months before your move to Germany.
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