Permanent Residence Permit Germany

Foreign nationals residing and working in Germany may apply for a permanent residence permit, provided they meet certain eligibility requirements specific to their current immigration permission type to remain in the country.

The rules for a permanent residence permit in Germany are complex, and will vary depending on your circumstances. It is, therefore, advisable to consult with an immigration lawyer before you apply. For more information and/or legal advice regarding your permanent residence permit application in Germany, call us today on +44 (0)333 305 9375 or send a message online.

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    Settling in Germany Permanently: Rights and Benefits

    Germany’s strong economy offers many suitable job and entrepreneurial opportunities for international talent. Highly skilled workers from across the world, who immigrate to the country for work purposes, often plan to settle down there permanently thanks to its high-standard healthcare system, world-class educational institutions, and free access to the European job market.

    Non-EEA or non-Swiss nationals lawfully living and working in Germany on a temporary residence permit may apply for permanent residence after residing in the country for a specific number of years.

    Compared to temporary residence permits, a permanent residence in Germany gives you access to more rights and benefits, such as:

    • No need to renew your residence permit every few years
    • Right to live in Germany with your eligible family members without any restrictions
    • Freedom to change jobs, become self-employed or start a new business in the country, even if the new job or business is not related to your academic qualifications or experience
    • Access to German social security benefits, e.g. unemployment benefits in case of a layoff
    • Right to apply for financial aid if you want to study at a German university
    • Right to apply for a bank loan to purchase real estate in the country
    • Travelling visa-free in the Schengen Area and a few non-Schengen countries for a period of 90 days
    • Apply for German citizenship after eight years.
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    Types of Permanent Residence Titles in Germany

    There are two permanent residency options available to non-EEA/non-Swiss foreign nationals in Germany:

    • A settlement permit
    • A permanent EU Residence Permit (as per Section 9a of the German Residence Act)

    Both these options are almost identical in terms of rights and benefits for the permit holder in Germany. What you choose will ultimately depend on your personal immigration circumstances as well as your travel requirements.

    You will be able to live and work in Germany on both these permits for an unrestricted amount of time, and have the same rights and benefits in the country.

    On the permanent EU Residence Permit, however, you will also be able to settle in another Member State of the EU, provided you meet the respective residency conditions and comply with the applicable rules in that country.

    Aerial view of city buildings in Germany

    Am I Eligible to Apply for a Permanent Residence Permit in Germany?

    Overview

    Eligibility requirements for a German permanent residence permit will vary depending on the type of permit you would like to apply for, i.e. a settlement permit or a permanent EU residence Permit.

    Moreover, the mandatory number of years (or months) you have to spend in Germany, to be eligible for permanent residency, varies depending on the type of your current temporary residence permit in the country.

    In this section, we will discuss in detail the eligibility requirements for both types of permanent residence permit in Germany.

    Eligibility Requirements for a Settlement Permit

    Foreign nationals can apply for a settlement permit in Germany if they meet the stipulated conditions, which vary depending on the type of work permit they are currently holding in the country.

    If you wish to apply for a settlement permit in Germany, you must have:

    • Hold a work permit in Germany (please note that foreign nationals holding temporary residence permits in Germany for study purposes are not eligible to apply for a settlement permit)
    • Sufficient income in Germany to sustain yourself and your family members without using public funds
    • A living space, owned or rented, in Germany large enough to accommodate your family unit
    • Made compulsory or voluntary contributions to statutory pension insurance in Germany during the time you lived and worked in the country
    • Been working in a job/position in Germany that is suitable to your academic qualifications or experience
    • Command of the German language at least on a CEFR Level B1
    • Sufficient knowledge about German culture as well as the legal and social order in the country (you will have to pass the ‘Life in Germany’ test to prove that)

    Furthermore, issuance of such a residence permit to you should not be precluded by reasons of public safety or order.

    Depending upon the type of work permit you currently hold in Germany, the minimum amount of time you must spend uninterruptedly in the country before you can apply for a settlement permit will vary, such as:

    • Four years if you are considered to be a ‘skilled professional’ according to the German Residence Act
    • Three years if you are self-employed, or a family member of a German national
    • Two years if you are a ‘skilled professional’ with a German university degree or vocational training
    • 33 months if you are an EU Blue Card holder with a basic command (i.e. at least CEFR Level A1) of the German language
    • 21 months for EU Blue Card holders who can speak German at CEFR Level B1
    • Five years if you hold any other type of German work permit, or you are an asylum seeker in Germany or have a refugee status
    • Three years if you are for asylum seeker/person with refugee status, and can speak German well (i.e. at least CEFR Level C1) and are earning your own livelihood in the country

    Minor children of foreign national parents can apply for a settlement permit after turning 16, provided they have lived in Germany for at least five years before that.

    If you are considered to be a ‘highly-qualified professional’ in the country, e.g. an acclaimed scientist with special technical knowledge or an academician in a high-level teaching position with many years of professional experience, you can apply for a settlement permit immediately after moving to Germany.

    Eligibility Requirements for a Permanent EU Residence Permit

    To be eligible to apply for a permanent EU residence Permit in Germany, you will have to fulfil the following conditions:

    • You have been residing lawfully in Germany for at least five consecutive years. In certain cases, periods of stay outside Germany may be counted towards this calculation
    • You have sufficient financial means in Germany to support yourself and your family members
    • You possess a good enough command of the German language, corresponding to at least CEFR Level B1
    • You have basic knowledge of the legal and social system in the country as well as an understanding of the way of life there
    • You have an accommodation in Germany, rented or owned, sufficient for you and your family members living with you
    • You have made compulsory or voluntary contributions to statutory pension insurance in Germany for at least 60 months
    • Issuance of such a residence permit is not precluded by reasons of public safety or order

    Foreign nationals holding temporary residence permits in Germany for study purposes or for certain humanitarian reasons will not, however, be eligible to apply for permanent EU Residence Permits.

    For help navigating the legalities of the German permanent residence visa, speak with our team today. Contact Us

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      What Documents Do I Need to Apply for a German Permanent Residence Permit?

      You will have to submit the following documents while applying for permanent residency in Germany:

      • A valid passport
      • Completed and signed application form
      • One recent passport photo, as per the German visa photo guidelines
      • Health insurance documents, such as:
        • A confirmation letter from your healthcare provider in case you are enrolled under statutory health insurance
        • Copy of your insurance policy and proof of premium payment in case you have private health insurance
      • Proof of social security contributions made by you
      • Proof of income and financial means in Germany, such as bank statements, payslips, tax returns etc.
      • German language proficiency certificate
      • If you are a salaried employee then your employment contract, salary statements from the previous six months, certificate of employment (must be issued by your employer within 14 days before the application), and a certificate by the German pension insurance authorities
      • For self-employed persons, your complete audit report and latest tax assessment
      • Notice of pension entitlement, in case of retirees
      • Certificate of Registration of Address, which proves that Germany is your principal place of residence
      • Documentation of home ownership, or a lease or rental agreement from your landlord for rented accommodation
      • A German university degree or vocational certificate, where applicable
      • Marriage certificate for the spouse of a German national
      • Professional licences for highly-qualified workers
      • Permit processing fee payment receipt

      Please note that the above list is not exhaustive by any means. The Ausländerbehörde (i.e. the German immigration office) may ask you for additional documents, which you must submit within the stipulated deadlines.

      How Do I Apply for a Permanent Residence Permit in Germany?

      Please start preparing for the permanent residence permit application well before your current temporary residence permit in Germany expires.

      Once you have decided upon the type of permanent residence permit you wish to apply for (taking into account the eligibility criteria) in Germany, please start arranging for the required supporting documents.

      After collecting the necessary documents, please book an appointment with your local Ausländerbehörde. Depending on where you live in Germany, you may make this appointment online or over phone, or you may have to visit them in person.

      On the date of your appointment, please visit your local Ausländerbehörde with all your supporting documents as well as the relevant application form, duly completed and signed, to attend an interview with a German immigration officer. If you are the spouse of a German citizen and applying for a settlement permit on that ground, you both will have to appear for this interview.

      You will have to submit your documents to the immigration officer, and pay your permit application fee by cash, card or bank transfer, during your interview.

      The ‘Life in Germany’ Test

      Permanent residence permit applicants in Germany are required to prove that they:

      • Can speak the German language
      • Have knowledge of the legal systems, social values, history and culture in Germany
      • Are aware of your rights and obligations in Germany as a permanent resident

      To do so, you may require to complete certain integration courses in Germany, consisting mainly of language and orientation classes. After completing your courses, you will have to appear for a ‘Life in Germany’ test.

      Successful applicants will then receive a certificate of eligibility, which can be submitted as proof of their proficiency in the German language and sufficient knowledge of the German way of life.

      We can make your application process smooth and streamlined. Contact Us

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        Processing Time

        The Ausländerbehörde usually takes 2-3 weeks from the date of your interview and submission of application form and supporting documents, to process your application for permanent residency in Germany and reach a decision.

        However, this timeframe may increase if you are asked by your local Ausländerbehörde officer to submit additional supporting documents. It is, therefore, advisable to provide as much evidence along with your application as possible, to avoid any unnecessary delay in processing.

        Fees for Permanent Residence Permit

        Processing fees for a permanent residence permit application in Germany vary depending on your current working permit in the country.

        Self-employed professionals or freelancers are required to pay a fee of €124, while for highly qualified professionals, the fee is €147. For skilled workers and other categories, the fee is €113.

        Moreover, if you are a Turkish citizen, you will have to pay a processing fee of €28.80.

        What If My Application Has Been Refused?

        Applications for permanent residence permits in Germany are usually not refused, since the applicants have already met most of the conditions when they have originally been granted temporary resident permits in the country.

        If for any reason, however, the Ausländerbehörde rejects your application for permanent residency in Germany, you will be informed of the refusal reasons in writing and will also be provided a chance to lodge an appeal against the refusal decision.

        However, your permanent resident status, once granted, can be revoked if you:

        • Live outside Germany for more than six months consecutively
        • Obtain a long-term residence permit in any of the other EU Member States
        • Have provided false information or documents to obtain permanent residency in Germany, which have later been found out
        • Are considered to be a serious threat to public safety or policy in Germany

        Permanent Residency to Citizenship in Germany

        You may be able to apply for German citizenship by naturalisation after living in the country for eight consecutive years on a permanent residence permit, provided you meet the other eligibility conditions for obtaining citizenship in Germany.

        As a naturalised German citizen, you will get the same rights and benefits applicable to German citizens by birth, such as right to vote in Germany, unrestricted mobility (i.e. right to travel, live and work) in the Schengen Area, and diplomatic protection abroad, to name a few.

        However, since Germany does not allow dual citizenship, you will have to renounce your previous citizenship once you become a German citizen by naturalisation.

        How Can Total Law Help?

        Obtaining permanent residency in Germany is a complex process. Even if you meet the eligibility requirements, it is of utmost importance to fill up the relevant forms correctly and completely, to submit all required documentation, and to successfully pass the ‘Life in Germany’ test.

        At Total Law, our team of sympathetic immigration lawyers have the required expertise to assist you, regardless of your personal circumstances or the complexity of your case.

        If you are seeking overall advice with your settlement permit or permanent EU Residence Permit application in Germany, or you would like an immigration adviser to complete your application on your behalf, we are here for you.

        We also offer document and application checking services if you just need a final check to confirm that your documents and application adhere to the Ausländerbehörde regulations.

        To know more about the bespoke services we provide and how we can help you, dial +44 (0)333 305 9375 or send a message online today, to speak with one of our expert immigration lawyers.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  No. Only those foreign nationals who are living in Germany on temporary residence permits for work purposes will be eligible to apply for permanent residency, provided they meet other eligibility requirements.

                  So, if you are an international student in Germany on a temporary residence permit, you will have to find a suitable job offer in the country after completing your studies and then apply for a temporary residence permit for work purposes, to be eligible to apply for permanent residency eventually.

                  A maximum of 180 consecutive days in a 12-month period. Your permanent residence title in Germany will be revoked if you remain outside the country for more than six consecutive months as per the German Residence Act.