Residence Permit Germany: Overview
If you are planning to stay in Germany for more than 90 days, you are likely to require a residence permit in order to do so.
There are a number of different residence permits from which to choose. These are: the temporary residence permit, the EU Blue Card, and the permanent residence permit. The specific details of these different types of permit will be given later in the article.
Different residence permits allow the holder to engage in numerous activities when in Germany, including work, study, and travel. The specific rules associated with the permit will depend on the type of permit for which you apply.
Note that there are certain exceptions in which a residence permit will not be required in order for you to spend longer than 90 days in Germany. If you are a citizen of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Lichtenstein, you will not require a residence permit in order to legally remain in Germany for longer than 90 days.
- Residence Permit Germany: Overview
- Eligibility Requirements for Residence Permit Germany
- Types of Residence Permits in Germany
- How To Apply For A Residence Permit In Germany?
- What Documents Will I Need?
- Processing Time For Residence Permit In Germany
- Cost Of Applying For German Residence Permit
- The Electronic Residence Permit (eAT)
- German Citizenship
- How Can Total Law Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Eligibility Requirements for Residence Permit Germany
The eligibility criteria for German residence permits are complex and vary significantly according to the application in question. However, there are a number of eligibility criteria which you will generally need to satisfy when submitting a German residence permit application. These are as follows:
- Have a clean criminal record
- Have proficiency in the German language to at least the B1 level
- Have German health insurance
- Be able to financially support yourself and any dependents
- Be able to pass a health check which demonstrates that you are able to work/study
- Have a German job offer (if applicable)
- Have a German university offer (if applicable)
- If you are applying for a German residence permit in order to join a spouse, have proof of your marriage (e.g. a marriage certificate)
Temporary Residence Permit
The temporary residence permit (also known as the limited residence permit, or ‘Aufenthaltserlaubnis’) is generally valid for up to 1 year. However, it can also be extended if you continue to meet the eligibility criteria. Your residence permit will specify the types of activity which you are allowed to engage in when in Germany, for example study or work.
In order for you to be granted a temporary residence permit for work purposes, your employer will first need to demonstrate that they were unable to fill the role using the German labour supply. Your residence permit will generally be valid for the duration of your work contract, but can be extended as necessary.
If you are granted a temporary residence permit for study, this will generally be valid for the duration of your university programme. Foreign students in Germany are also generally authorised to work for 120 days full time or 240 days part time, or to hold work-study positions. However, they will not be authorised to accept long-term positions; this would require a residence permit which is for work purposes specifically.
You may also obtain a temporary residence permit in order to join your German spouse in Germany, under the family reunion route. Once you have been married to your spouse for at least 2 years and have resided in Germany for at least 3 years, you will generally be eligible to apply for permanent residence in Germany.
EU Blue Card
The EU Blue Card is designed to encourage highly-skilled non-EU residents to relocate to the EU. In order to be eligible, you must be educated to at least a Bachelor’s degree level.
You must first have secured a job offer from Germany in order to obtain the German EU Blue Card. The job will need to be in a field which directly relates to your degree. You will be expected to have a high level of proficiency in the German language.
The EU Blue Card grants the holder 4 years of residence in Germany. Note that, after 33 months of living and working in Germany, you will be eligible to apply for permanent residence. You can apply sooner than this, after 21 months, if you are fluent in the German language.
Permanent Residence Permit
This permit is also known as the Settlement permit, or the ‘Niederlassungserlaubnis’. It allows the holder to settle in Germany permanently. In order to be eligible for this permit, you will generally need to reside legally and constantly in Germany for at least 5 years. You will also need to demonstrate that you are able to financially support yourself and any dependents, have German proficiency to at least the B1 level, and have stable housing in Germany. Additionally, you will be expected to have basic knowledge of German law and culture.
If you hold a German permanent residence permit, your spouse and child(ren) will also be entitled to join you in Germany. They will first need to get temporary residence permits, but can eventually obtain permanent ones.
How To Apply For A Residence Permit In Germany?
Generally speaking, you will need to enter Germany on a valid visa and then apply for a residence permit after you arrive in Germany. The visa on which you enter Germany should correspond to the residence permit for which you intend to apply. There are a number of stages to applying for a German residence permit. These are as follows.
First, you will need to register your German address. Once this has been completed, you will receive a certificate of confirmation. This certificate will need to be included with your application.
Before applying, you will also need to set up German health insurance. You will also need to provide evidence of this as part of your application.
Next, you will need to set up an appointment with either your local consular services if you are applying from outside of Germany or with your local immigration office if you are applying from within Germany.
The appointment itself generally takes around 10 minutes. Your application will then be processed, after which point you will learn whether or not your application has been successful. If your application is indeed successful, you will then be granted a residence permit. If it is unsuccessful, you will be informed why, and can attempt to reapply after addressing the grounds for the rejection of the initial application. If you do choose to reapply, you might wish to consider seeking legal assistance with your application, in order to address the reasons that your initial application was rejected. Contact Total Law today on (+44) 333 305 9375 to learn more about how we can help with this.
What Documents Will I Need?
The specific documents which are required for your application will depend on the type of permit for which you are applying. However, you will generally require a combination of the following documents:
- Valid passport
- Completed application form
- 2 passport photos, which satisfy the German requirements
- Proof of income. Specifically, you will need to prove that you are able to financially support yourself and any dependents
- Proof of health insurance
- Proof of German address
- Marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Birth certificate(s) of your child(ren) (if applicable)
- Confirmation of your admission to a German university (if applicable)
An offer of work from a German employer (if applicable)
Processing Time For Residence Permit In Germany
It generally takes around 2-3 weeks for German residence permit applications to be processed. This is in addition to the waiting time for your initial interview with the German authorities. However, if you arrive at your interview without the correct documents, you will need to book a further interview, leading to delays in the processing of your application. In order to minimise the processing length of your application, make sure that you have all of the required documents at the start of the application process and that you satisfy all of the eligibility criteria.
Applications may also take longer to process if there is a high number of other applications also being processed at the same time.
Cost Of Applying For German Residence Permit
The exact fee of your residence permit will depend on the type of permit in question and on the length of its validity.
A temporary residence permit is €50 if valid for up to 1 year and €80 if valid for more than 1 year. You will need to pay €15 to extend it by up to 3 months and €30 to extend it for more than 3 months.
An EU long-term residence permit costs €85.
An EU Blue Card costs an initial fee of €100, with further associated fees if you choose to extend.
You may also choose to pay for legal assistance with your application. Contact Total Law today on (+44) 333 305 9375 to learn more about the services which we provide.
The Electronic Residence Permit (eAT)
As part of a broader effort to standardise EU residence permits, the residence permits of Germany have now moved from paper-based to electronic. Specifically, using a biometric chip, your permit will now contain your personal information, including your name, address, date of birth, fingerprint, and your photo.
You are now able to use your German residence permit as a form of electronic ID and electronic signature online.
Once you have lived in Germany for 8 years, you will likely be eligible to obtain German citizenship by naturalisation. There are a number of eligibility requirements for citizenship which you will first need to satisfy, however. These include:
- You will need to officially agree to the German constitution, known as the ‘Basic Law’
- You will have to demonstrate sufficient proficiency in the German language
- You will need to pass the German naturalisation test, designed to test your cultural and legal knowledge of Germany
- You will need to prove that you are able to financially support yourself without receiving German welfare benefits
- You should have a clean criminal record
- In most cases, you will need to relinquish your current nationality. Germany only allows dual citizenship in certain cases, for example if you are an EU citizen or of Iran, which does not allow its citizens to relinquish their Iranian citizenship
Once you have obtained German citizenship, you will also be eligible for a German national identity card and a German passport. You will need to apply for these documents separately. Once you obtain German citizenship, you will be expected to possess at least one of these documents in order to prove your identity.
There are also some exceptions in which you can obtain German citizenship before the usual 8 years. If you complete a German integration course, for example, you can apply after 7 years. You can apply after 6 years if you can demonstrate that you have integrated to life in Germany exceptionally well, for example if you have been volunteering in Germany for a number of years.
The fee for naturalisation is €255, or €51 for each dependent child who applies alongside you.
How Can Total Law Help?
Germany is a popular choice for non-EU citizens looking to live, work, or study in Europe. It offers a rich culture, many areas of natural beauty, and a stable environment in which to have a family. As such, many foreign nationals choose to relocate to Germany and to eventually settle here.
However, the process of getting a German residence permit is complicated and often confusing. As such, it is often preferable to receive legal support with your application. At Total Law, we provide assistance with every step of the process, including choosing the route which is right for you, helping you gather the necessary documents, and assisting you with the family reunion process. Our legal experts have years of experience in offering bespoke legal advice on cases exactly like this. Contact us today on (+44) 333 305 9375 to learn more about how we can help with your own immigration journey to Germany.
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No, you cannot apply for a residence permit whilst in Germany on a Tourist visa. This is because you need to enter Germany on the visa type which corresponds to the type of residence permit for which you intend to apply. If you apply for a residence permit whilst in Germany on a tourist visa, your application will be rejected. You will instead need to apply for a German work visa with your local consular services in your home country, and then apply for the relevant residence permit once you arrive in Germany.
The German residence permit will generally allow you to travel to other Schengen countries, yes. You will generally be able to stay in these countries as a tourist for up to 90 days.
However, note that not all European countries are in the Schengen area. Ireland is a European country which is not part of the Schengen agreement, for example. In such cases, you will likely still need a visa in order to enter these European non-Schengen countries, rather than entering using your passport and your German residence permit alone.
The main difference between the two is that a work permit is a particular type of residence permit. Some residence permits primarily allow the holder to study in Germany, whereas others focus on allowing the permit-holder to work in Germany. Whilst it is possible to conduct limited work in Germany whilst holding a temporary residence permit for study, for example, there are more restrictions on working in Germany as a student than working in Germany with a permit which is specifically for work.
If you are a refugee who has resided in Germany for at least 5 years, you will be eligible to apply for permanent residence in Germany. Note that any time spent as an asylum seeker in Germany will also count towards these 5 years.
You will need to demonstrate that you have secure housing in Germany, the means to financially support yourself and any dependents, and sufficient proficiency in the German language.
You may also be able to obtain citizenship through naturalisation after 6 years. In this case, you will need to receive prior approval from the relevant naturalisation authorities.