Germany Citizenship By Investment

Many countries worldwide offer so-called ‘golden visa’ programmes that allow individuals to obtain citizenship providing that they invest a certain amount of money into the economy. Germany doesn’t currently offer any investment visas but there is a route that can be taken to German citizenship through the investment in a business that fulfils an economic interest or need. Here, we cover off how that works.

Gaining German citizenship by investment isn’t as simple as some other states, and so it’s recommended those interested seek specialist legal guidance. Total Law can help – call us today on (+44)333 305 9375.

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    Route to Citizenship by Investment in Germany

    In order to use financial investment as a route to German citizenship, an individual must invest in and establish a business that fulfils ‘an economic interest or need’. To do this, they will need to apply for a self-employment visa (also known as an ‘entrepreneurial visa’), as outlined in Article 21 of the German Residence Act.

    When granted, a self-employment visa of this type will allow the holder to enter Germany to start their business; and will give them immediate eligibility for a residency permit. Providing they stay resident in Germany and working on their business, they may apply for full German citizenship in six or eight years after initial arrival.

    There is no standalone ‘golden visa’ scheme as such in Germany and so the self-employment visa, using the financial resources to start a business, is the closest alternative.

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    German Citizenship by Investment Requirements

    In order for an applicant to be eligible for a self-employment visa through which they intend to create a new business in Germany, the following requirements must be met:

    • The applicant must have relevant business experience
    • The applicant must be able to present a comprehensive business plan
    • The applicant must be able to demonstrate that their business will have a positive impact on the German economy and that it can meet regional or economic demand
    • The applicant’s business must hire at least five people in Germany
    • The applicant’s business must be able to secure additional sufficient funding if the business needs more funding than the applicant is able to put in themselves
    • The applicant must have a clean criminal record.

    There is technically no minimum investment that the applicant should make into their own business as this is not a traditional investment visa. However, it is typically the case that entrepreneurs invest at least €360,000 before securing any additional funding from other sources.

    It should be noted that even the most experienced of entrepreneurs are not advised to invest overseas without specialist legal and business advice. Total Law can help with expert legal guidance. Call us on (+44)333 305 9375 for more information.

    How to Get German Citizenship by Investment

    There are several steps for applicants to undergo to invest into the German economy and eventually gain citizenship, including obtaining self-employment. These are as follows:

    Step 1: Create a Business Plan

    To be eligible for a self-employment visa to establish a business in Germany, applicants must be able to demonstrate how they will create and launch a new venture that is considered beneficial to the German economy and will hire at least five German people.

    A comprehensive and well-structured business plan should be written; ideally to the standard that would be accepted by a bank or funding institution (even if no additional funding is to be sought). Elements to include are, as a minimum:

    • An executive summary
    • A full company description
    • Details of all products and services to be offered
    • Market analysis
    • Marketing strategy
    • Financial projections
    • Budgetary projections and details of funding sources.

    All details in the business plan must be accurate and the applicant must know them inside out, as they will likely be questioned on it later on.

    Step 2: Apply for a Self-Employment Visa

    The self-employment visa can be applied for once the business idea has been conceived, funding set aside and business plan written. This is done in the following way:

    • Compile supporting documents to be supplied with application form. Details of what needs to be supplied is listed online along with the application details, and further documentation is often requested by immigration authorities throughout the application process. Generally speaking, it’s best to supply as much information as possible on the business itself and the finances the applicant is investing to support it
    • Attend a visa appointment at a local German Embassy or Consulate. This must be booked in advance and is where the applicant will submit the application form and supporting documents. The visa fee must be paid and biometric details may be taken
    • If successful, the visa holder may travel to Germany and begin work on launching the business.

    Step 3: Arrive in Germany and Get Your Temporary Residence Permit

    Once the self-employment visa holder has arrived in Germany, they must register the address at which they’re living to obtain a residence permit.

    This is done at the local registration office. Here, the visa holder must present their identification and visa proofs along with details of the business being or having been incorporated.

    In most cases, a temporary residence permit will be valid for up to three years along with the self-employment visa.

    Step 4: Become a Permanent Resident

    After an individual has lived in Germany for three years with a valid visa, they may apply for permanent residency, also known as a ‘settlement permit’. This allows for visa holders to live indefinitely in Germany legally without the requirement to regularly re-apply for residency permits.

    Any family members who have joined the initial visa holder in Germany may apply for permanent residency after a period of five years.

    Step 5: Apply for Citizenship

    Permanent residents who have lived in Germany legally for a period of eight years or more may apply for citizenship by naturalisation. This is a lengthy process – sometimes up to two years – but if the holder is able to comfortably pass a German integration test and a proficient German language examination, they can apply ‘fast-track’ after six years.

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      Application Cost and Processing Timeline

      It should be noted by applicants that with no direct ‘golden visa’ scheme available, it is not quick nor cheap to receive citizenship by investment in Germany.

      There’s no set timeline for any German visa to be processed within, and if additional documents are requested as part of the process it is paused until such time as these have been received – which can add on a considerable delay. On average, it takes between two weeks and two months for an application for a self-employment visa to be processed – although how long it will take to secure a visa interview appointment to apply is dependent on the workload of the local Embassy or Consulate. The fee for a self-employment visa is €75, and the temporary residence permit €100 (payable at the local registration office). It costs another €100 to extend the temporary residence permit.

      Permanent residency can be applied for after three years, and the permit costs a one-off fee of €124.

      Citizenship can be applied for after six years (for those dual-lingual and able to pass a German integration test) or eight years, depending on circumstances. This process can take up to two years and costs €255 for adults and €55 for minors.

      Required Documents for a German Citizenship by Investment

      Along with the application form, the following supporting documents must be submitted for a self-employment visa:

      • A valid passport
      • A passport standard photo
      • The business plan and details of all funding
      • Health insurance valid for at least the duration of the first year in Germany
      • Details of the applicant’s intended accommodation in Germany
      • CV and proof of any relevant business qualifications
      • Proof of the business’ registration.

      For the temporary and permanent residency permits, all of the above may be requested but in most instances only identification and proof of the valid visa needs to be supplied.

      For a full citizenship application, various examinations will need to be taken and certificates of passing presented, along with details of the business’ survival and the residency permits.

      Why Do People Choose to Invest in Germany?

      Despite there being a number of states worldwide that offer direct routes to citizenship through investment considerably easier than the German system, entrepreneurs still flock to Germany in large numbers. Of course, every applicant’s reason for investing in and moving to Germany are different, but the following are the most cited:

      • Germany is an EU member state, allowing for easy travel around a wide number of European countries. It is considered very much a powerhouse of the bloc and boasts a strong economy
      • Germany’s quality of life is the sixth highest in the world, as ranked by the global Human Development Index, largely down to its impressive social security systems and vast employment and business opportunities
      • Visa holders of a German self-employment visa may apply to bring their immediate family members and dependents with them for residency in the country, and they too can become eligible for citizenship
      • If citizenship is granted, German nationals may apply for a German passport. This is considered one of the most prestigious travel documents in the world and allows for visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel to over 185 countries worldwide.

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        How can Total Law help?

        Total Law specialise in immigration law and help people the world over apply for and appeal for visas across Europe. Taking an end-to-end approach with no legal jargon used, we manage every step of the process from document compilation right through to guidance on travel. Investing in a business is no mean feat even on home soil, and so entrepreneurs looking to do so overseas are best to seek relevant legal help throughout.

        The Total Law team are contactable on (+44)333 305 9375 and are happy to chat on a free, no-obligation basis to understand your situation. Whether you’ve already started your application or are trying to decide how best to proceed, our team can help with advice; just give us a call.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  The citizenship application process for Germany is lengthy and can take up to two years even without delays. In order to keep the process moving as quickly as possible, applicants are advised to attend appointments on time and to supply any requested documents as soon as they are able; as these issues pause applications and no further progress on them will be made until completed.

                  Germany’s overseas diplomatic mission is one of the largest in the world, with Embassies, Consulates and other missions deployed in hundreds of countries globally. Its offices are listed on the German government website but if there isn’t an Embassy or Consulate local to you, it’s best to contact the geographically nearest facility to enquire how best to proceed.

                  While there may be the need to hold a conversational level of German to apply for a self-employment visa, there is no examination of language proficiency until such time that permanent residency or citizenship is applied for.

                  For a business to be eligible for a self-employment visa to be granted, it must be hiring five local people to the business location on a full-time basis. While these people need not necessarily be German by nationality, they must be legally able to work in the country.

                  There is currently no real estate investment route for overseas nationals to receive German citizenship