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Matters raised by Indian students in Germany
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1. Embassy and Consulates General of India in Germany have stepped up their interaction with Indian students asGermany becomes a preferred destination, particularly for higher education, for an increasing number of students. According to DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service)statistics, the number of Indian students in Germany has risen by 273.6% from 2008-2009 to 2013-2014. Presently, there areapproximately 10,000 Indian students in Germany.
2. During their interactions with the Embassy and the Consulates including the Open House in Berlin in May,the Indian students raised some challenges being faced by them viz. processing timefor initial student visa, scheduling appointments for extension of visa, lack of internships because of visa-related issues, accommodation on first arrival; and "blocked account".

3. Smt. SushmaSwaraj, Minister of External Affairs in her meeting with Dr. Johanna Wanka, Federal Minister Education and Research in Berlin on 26 August 2015, apprised the latter of the challenges faced by Indian students. She suggested that the facilitation would be mutually beneficial since Indian students were highly qualified, hard-working and adapting.

4. Ambassador of India had earlier taken up the matter with the Federal Minister of Education and Research. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) assured that they accorded high importance to improving conditions for Indian students and responded on specific issues as follows:
(a) Initial student visa: Federal Foreign Office which is responsible for initial visas issued outside Germany confirms that the usual processing time is 2 weeks with up to 10 weeks in individual cases requiring closer scrutiny or because of the time needed to open a 'blocked account'. The German Embassy in New Delhi has recently arranged with Kotak Mahindra Bank in India to open 'blocked accounts'. This should help expedite visa process.
(b) Extension of visa: Conversion of initial visa or extension is done by the local Auslanderbehorde or Foreigners'RegistrationOffice supervised by the Interior Ministry of each state. They have introduced several measures as special service centres (in large student locations), and interview days at Universities. There usually is an online system for booking appointments in places where the students have to report to the Auslanderbehorde. Appointment for interview should be applied 4-6 weeks before expiry of visa and in any case before the expiry of residence visa. Provided that the residence permit is valid on the day when appointment is booked, it remains valid until the interview date implying that the student can continue to study until the interview takes place. [Embassy also intends to write to Interior Ministries in the Lander regarding extension of visa]
(c) Accommodation on first arrival: This is a problem affecting all international students. Some Universities have 'Welcome Centres' dedicated to help international students in these matters.
(d) Blocked accounts: A 'blocked account' is one of the many instruments used to provide proof of sufficient funds. This is set up for meeting living costs and not intended for payment of advance rent which can be paid or transferred separately.

5.The Embassy and Consulates General of Indiawill keep up interaction with Indian students and continue working closely with local authorities with a view to address their issues.

Berlin, 28 August 2015

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