Immigration to Germany

Germany boasts one of the world’s largest economies, universal healthcare, affordable education, and abundant work opportunities. If you’re looking to immigrate to Germany, there are several ways to do so. The best immigration pathway for you depends on your nationality, professional qualifications, and purpose for immigrating to Germany.

For more information on immigration to Germany, German visa types, and resident permits, speak to our Germany immigration lawyer today. You can reach us at (+44) 333 305 9375 or contact us online for immediate assistance.

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    Overview of Immigration and Residence in Germany

    Germany is among the top favourable countries for immigration because of its thriving economy, efficient social infrastructure, and low crime rate. Germany’s shortage of skilled workers and the accelerated procedures for skilled worker migration make it even easier to migrate to Germany.

    Germany offers several immigration pathways for foreigners looking to immigrate to Germany. You can move to Germany for employment, schooling, family reunification, or to start a business. The eligibility requirements depend on your nationality, reason for immigrating, and intended duration of stay.

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    Moving to Germany from the EU/EEA/Switzerland

    You do not need a visa to move to Germany if you’re a European Union, European Economic Area, or Swiss citizen. You’re entitled to the European Union’s freedom of movement and can enter Germany anytime. You only need a valid identity card or passport to stay in Germany for up to three months.

    You may stay in Germany longer than three months if you’re employed, seeking employment, running a business, or studying in a higher institution. However, you must register your stay if you plan to stay longer than three months.

    If you’re not working or studying, you must show that you can financially support yourself throughout your stay and have valid health insurance.

    You can become a German permanent resident after five years of residing there. Family members can join you in Germany, even those of different nationalities. You can bring your spouse or civil partner and dependent children under 21. Other family members, such as older children, grandchildren, parents, and grandparents, can also join you, provided you can support their stay. Depending on their nationality, they may need a visa for stays longer than three months.

    Moving to Germany for Non-EU/EEA/Switzerland Nationals

    Non-EU/EEA/Switzerland nationals who want to move to Germany need a residence title. A residence title allows you to stay and work in Germany for a stipulated time, except if a law prohibits you from working. The type of residence title you’ll need depends on your purpose for coming to Germany.

    However, the first thing you need when planning your move to Germany is an entry visa. You must apply for a visa at your home country’s German diplomatic mission. If you meet the required conditions, you’ll be issued a visa, granting you entrance to Germany. The visa is usually valid for three months to one year, depending on your purpose for travelling to Germany.

    If you need to stay in Germany beyond your visa duration, you’ll have to apply for a residence title from the immigration authorities in your region of Germany. The application must be done before your visa expires.

    Depending on the immigration route, you may be able to bring family members to join you in Germany. However, the accompanying member must obtain a Family Reunification visa from the relevant German diplomatic commission.

    Non-EU/EEA/Switzerland nationals with a residence permit from an EU member state do not need a visa to migrate to Germany.

    Jewish Immigrants

    Germany has special admission procedures for Jewish immigrants from countries in the former Soviet Union. There are also special rules for victims of National Socialist persecution.

    To be eligible for admission into the Federal Republic of Germany as a Jewish immigrant, you must:

    • Be a national of any succeeding state of the former Soviet Union (excluding the Baltic states) or have been living there as a stateless person since January 1, 2005. The Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) are members of the European Union, so their citizens are not subject to these admission procedures.
    • Be of Jewish nationality, have at least one Jewish parent or grandparent, and adhere to Judaism only.
    • Be proficient in German to at least A1 level of the Common European Framework Reference of Languages (CEFR)
    • Prove that you can permanently support yourself financially per the integration prognosis of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
    • Prove that you will be accepted in a German Jewish community. The Federal Office will contact the German Central Jewish Welfare Federation (ZWST) to assess your acceptability in a Jewish community.

    You are ineligible for this admission procedure if:

    • You have formerly migrated to another country, such as the USA or Israel, or if you’re a German permanent resident.
    • You held a significant position in the communist regime of the Soviet Union and were convicted of offences considered deliberate criminal offences in Germany. Politically motivated punishments imposed by the Soviet Court are exempt.
    • You have links with criminal and terrorist associations in the past or present.
    • You pose a threat to the free democratic order and security of Germany, or you’re involved in violent political movements.

    Jews born in the former Soviet Union before 1 January 1945 are considered victims of National Socialist persecution. Recognising its historical responsibility, Germany waived the integration prognosis and language proficiency requirements for this category of Jews.

    Ethnic German Resettlers

    These are the descendants of Germans from the former Soviet Union and other Eastern European states. There’s a unique process for admitting German ethnic resettlers to Germany. You’ll be automatically granted German citizenship once you are recognised as an ethnic German resettler.

    The primary requirement for this immigration route is proof of German ancestry. However, it is only applicable to individuals born before 1st January 1993. Your spouse and direct descendants can apply to settle alongside you in Germany, provided they meet the standard language proficiency requirement.

    Upon arrival in Germany and registration at an initial registration centre, the Federal Office of Administration will assign you to a state. You may also be required to attend an integration course paid for by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. You’ll be handed your certificate of eligibility for the integration course immediately after you enter Germany.

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      German Visa Types


      There are several types of German visas, each tailored to a specific purpose of entry. Therefore, the type of visa you’ll need depends on your reason for moving to Germany. German visa types include:

      Each visa type has specific eligibility criteria and document requirements. If you meet the relevant visa requirements and your application is approved, you’ll be issued a visa marked for your purpose of entry into Germany.

      Immigration to Germany for Business

      Depending on the duration of your stay, there are two ways to enter Germany for business purposes.

      You need a Business visa if you’re coming for a short-term business purpose, such as attending a business meeting or conference or signing a contract. It is a short-stay Schengen visa that allows entry to Germany for up to three months within six months. Your permitted duration of stay will be specified on a sticker attached to your visa.

      Germany also welcomes investors and entrepreneurs seeking to migrate to Germany and invest in the German economy. It could be by starting a business or investing in an existing one. The type of visa designed for this purpose is the “Self-employment” visa, a category of German work visas.

      When applying for the Self-employment visa, you must prove that:

      • You have the required funds for investment.
      • Your investment is beneficial to the German economy.
      • Your product/service is meeting a need in Germany.
      • You have adequate provisions for your pension if you’re 45 years of age and older.

      Once you obtain a Self-employment visa, you can enter Germany and apply for a residence title. You’ll be given a permit valid for three years with unlimited renewal options, provided that you maintain your entrepreneur status.

      Immigration to Germany for Family Reunion

      Spouses, civil partners, minor children, and parents of German residents can move to Germany to join their family members and unite the family. They can do this through the family reunification immigration route. Individuals coming to Germany for family reunification are free to work in Germany.

      You must provide your marriage certificate, partnership registration, or birth certificate to prove your relationship. Spouses and children over 16 must also have basic proficiency in the German language. Other specific requirements depend on whether the family member in Germany is a German, EU, or non-EU national.

      If your family member is a German national, Germany must be their primary place of residence. You must also be coming to live with them as a family unit. A foreign parent of a minor can come to Germany to exercise their custodial rights.

      If your family member is a non-EU national, they must hold a resident permit, German settlement permit, an EU Blue Card, or an EU long-term residence permit. They must also have adequate accommodations and sufficient income to support you until you get a job.

      You must first obtain a Family Reunion visa at the German diplomatic mission in your country and then apply for a Family Reunion residence permit upon arrival in Germany.

      Immigration to Germany for Study

      Germany is an excellent place for pursuing further education. Many universities in Germany are tuition-free, and others charge low tuition fees. You can pursue a university degree, undertake school-based or in-company vocational training, participate in a school exchange programme, or attend a language course.

      Non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals must obtain a German Study visa to enter Germany for education. You must have an acceptance letter from a German learning institute to qualify for a Study visa. You will apply for a residence permit upon arrival in Germany.

      After completing your studies, you can remain in Germany for up to six months to seek employment. If you find a job, you can stay in Germany and pursue your career. After five years of working in Germany, you’ll be eligible for a permanent settlement.

      Immigration to Germany for Employment

      Due to a shortage of skilled workers, Germany offers IT specialists, engineers, healthcare professionals, and other high-skill professionals opportunities to come to Germany. The “Skilled Immigration Act” took effect in March 2020, providing an accelerated procedure for skilled workers to take up employment and immigrate to Germany.

      There are different categories of German Work visas, depending on skills, qualifications, and the demand for that profession. You can work in Germany as:

      • A skilled worker with an academic education.
      • A skilled worker with vocational training.
      • A scientist.
      • An intern or volunteer.
      • A skilled worker without training.
      • A self-employed person.
      • An intra-corporate transferee.

      However, your qualifications must be “recognised”, and you must have a valid employment contract from a German company to qualify for a Work visa. You will use the work contract to apply for a Work visa from the German Consulate-General in your home country. You can travel to Germany once your application is approved and apply for a residence permit.

      To qualify for your residence permit, your German employer must prove to the Federal authorities that:

      • Their business is duly registered with the German authorities.
      • There was a shortage of German or EU workers to fill your position.
      • You’ll receive the same treatment, including salary, working conditions, and other benefits, as other German employees.
      • You meet the educational and work experience qualifications for the job.

      From November 2023, foreign workers with a university degree can obtain an EU Blue Card if their salary is at least €39,682.80 (45.3% of the annual contribution assessment ceiling for pension insurance).

      Entry Requirements and Visa Application Process For Skilled Professionals

      Professionals from non-EU/EEA/Swiss countries must obtain a German visa to immigrate to Germany. The immigration process for skilled professionals is as follows:

      1. Check the entry requirements: You can check your visa and entry requirements using the “Quick Check” tool on Germany’s skilled worker portal.
      2. Apply for recognition: Your qualifications have to be recognised by German regulatory bodies. You need this recognition to obtain an entry visa. Use the “Recognition Finder” tool on the skilled worker portal to find a counselling centre. Apply for a recognition procedure only after the counselling.
      3. Search for a Job: You need an offer of employment from a German employer to qualify for an entry visa. You can find jobs online on the job board of Germany’s Federal Employment Agency. You can also get a job seeker visa to enter Germany and search for jobs for six months if your qualification recognition is successful.
      4. Apply for an entry visa: You’ll get your visa from the German consulate in your country of residence. You must submit your recognition, job offer, proof of language proficiency, proof of health insurance, and other required documents along with your application.
      5. Enter Germany: You can enter Germany immediately after you receive your visa. Your employer must have applied for a work permit on your behalf so you can start work once you settle in.
      6. Apply for a residence permit: You must change your visa to a resident permit within the validity period. You’ll apply for the residence permit at the immigration office.

      Residence Permits in Germany

      If you intend to stay longer than three months in Germany, you must obtain a residence permit after getting your national visa for Germany. In most cases, you can only obtain a residence title after arriving in Germany. You’ll be issued a temporary resident permit corresponding to the duration of your stay. The three types of German resident permits are:

      • Standard Residence Permit: The standard residence title is issued to foreign nationals for extended stays in Germany. Your permit will state your purpose and permitted duration of stay. The residence title is usually valid for four months to three years, depending on your purpose of entry to Germany and your intended period of stay. It is often extendable.
      • EU Blue Card: The EU Blue Card is for highly qualified non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals resident in Germany as skilled workers. To qualify for this card, you must have a qualifying job paying you a salary of at least €56,800. However, starting in November 2023, the minimum salary threshold for an EU Blue Card has been lowered to 45.3% of the annual contribution assessment ceiling for pension insurance. It currently amounts to €39,682.60.

      The EU Blue Card is valid for four years, after which you can renew it or apply for a permanent resident permit.

      • Settlement Permit: It is a permanent residence permit given to foreigners who have held a Standard Residence permit or EU Blue Card for five years and meet other requirements. It gives you the right to live and work in Germany permanently and allows unlimited entries. However, it is not the same as German citizenship.

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        How Can Germany Immigration Lawyers at Total Law Help?

        Germany is famous for its bureaucracy, and this can make your visa processing and immigration endeavours more challenging than it should be. You might end up with a rejection for a minor omission. This is why it is best to seek the services of German immigration experts to ensure a hitch-free application process.

        Whatever your needs are, our German immigration lawyers at Total Law are always available to help. We provide advisory services on the best pathway for you and your family to immigrate to Germany. Be it for business, study, employment, or family reunification, we will assess your eligibility, guide you through the application process, help you gather the required supporting documents, and double-check to ensure there are no errors or omissions in your application.

        Our goal is to take the hassles and stress off you, and our expert legal team work tirelessly to make the immigration process as straightforward as possible for you.

        To get started, call us at (+44) 333 305 9375 or contact us online for immediate assistance.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  The easiest and most popular way to immigrate to Germany is through the skilled worker route.

                  The general requirements for immigrating to Germany include:

                  • Prove financial resources to support yourself.
                  • Valid full-coverage health insurance.
                  • A1 level proficiency in the German language.
                  • A German visa.

                  To live in Germany, you will need to learn German. To immigrate to Germany, you will need a basic German language proficiency of A1 or B1. However, if you are seeking permanent residency, you will need to have a higher proficiency of C1 or C2.