Getting a German Residence Permit
Moving to Germany is an exciting adventure. It’s a place full of diverse people and the opportunities are endless. There are gorgeous cities and beautiful nature. You will not be disappointed relocating there for a second. The downside though is that until you are settled in, you’ll have to jump a few hoops. Germany is known as a place with a lot of bureaucracy. It’s said to be a red tape nightmare, so you’ll have to go through a few processes to be able to stay in the country.
This piece will make simpler the processes and will show you how to go about obtaining for yourself a German residence permit.
What is a German Residence Permit?
If your only aim is to visit Germany for tourism reasons, you don’t need to worry about a residence permit. A tourist visa allows you to stay in Germany for about 90 days and explore the country and all it has to offer. Staying beyond the allowed 90 days is not possible though without a residence permit.
So a German residence permit allows you to stay in Germany for a longer period than only 90 days. During that time you can study, work, or engage in other activities in the country.
But how do you know whether you need a residence permit? Well with the exception of people from EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein, all other foreign nationals need a residence permit to stay in Germany for more than 90 days.
A lot of foreign nationals will have to apply for the residence permit for Germany from their home countries or get a Schengen visa to enter Germany for 90 days. For some countries, though, it is possible to enter Germany without a visa during those first 90 days and apply for the residence permit from inside the country. Visit the Do I need a Visa for Short Stays in Germany to find out whether you are allowed to go into the country without a Schengen Visa.
Types of Residence Permit
Subject to your duration of stay and the requirements that you satisfy, there are several types of German residence permits. In general, there are three residence permits that allow you to stay in Germany for different periods of time.
Temporary Residence Permit
The Temporary Residence Permit or Limited Residence Permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis), as its name indicates, is for shorter visits in Germany. When you get this type of residence permit, you are allowed to stay in Germany for one year only. Nonetheless, it has the likelihood of leeway on the condition that your situation does not vary and that you satisfy the requirements.
The Temporary Residence Permit is accorded to foreign nationals if they have a precise reason for staying in Germany. When you apply for this type of permit, you state the reason why you want to stay and the card released to you specifies it. Subsequently, you cannot take part in an activity that your residence permit doesn’t permit. For instance, if you apply for the temporary residence permit for learning, it will indicate that you can only study and not work. The other way around applies also.
The temporary residence permit is the first category of permit that nearly all foreign nationals get. It generates a foundation for a more permanent stay in Germany. One of the requirements, then for the permanent permit is to have held the temporary permit for a specified period of time. Only those with special cases can surpass this requirement.
There are many reasons that a person would want to have a temporary residence permit for Germany. Here we will outline the three most common ones.
Finding a job in Germany qualifies you to get a temporary residence permit. You can initially start your job hunt from your home country, or you can get a Germany Job Seeker Visa to go and search for one within Germany. Either way, after you get an employment offer, you can apply for a temporary residence permit. You are not allowed to start working before you obtain the document.
There are several requirements that you need to meet for being allowed to work in Germany with a residence permit. Some of them include German proficiency, and then you and your employer must prove that the job position could not be filled by other German citizens, EU citizens, or Priority workers. Priority workers are those who have been in Germany for a longer time. Furthermore, you must get authorization from the Federal Employment Agency or Bundesagentur fur Arbeit.
After you obtain your authorization and satisfy the requirements, you can submit an application for the residence permit. The length of time you are permitted to hold your permit is decided by your employment agreement. If your contract is for only 2 years, your permit will also be valid for 2 years. However, you can extend it as many times as you need as long as you maintain your employment status.
Temporary residence permits are also given for students who will be completing an undergraduate, graduate, or vocational degree in Germany. They usually get the residence permit for the length of their program. During their education, they are allowed to work full time for 120 days or half-time for 240 days. In addition, they can engage in work-study positions. However, they cannot enter long term contracts.
After they conclude their degree, scholars are permitted to extend their temporary permit for another 18 months, with the aim of securing a job in Germany. German authorities permit this since they aspire to keep educated people within the country. If the students find a job, they can then submit an application for an Employment Residence Permit.
Marrying a German citizen or a person who has a permanent residence permit in Germany allows you to stay in the country, but you will still need a residence permit. There is no particular German residence permit through marriage, but this indicates that you will just obtain your permit to remain in the country for family union reasons. Same-sex couples are also accepted in Germany and are eligible to get residence permits after they get married
The requirements include a good grasp of the German language at a B1 level and they are similar to the requirements of other residence permits, which will be outlined below. The residence permit will be temporary, but after a few years of marriage (usually 2 years) and time spent in Germany (3 years), the spouse becomes eligible to gain permanent residence.
During this time, the spouse can apply for permits that are for employment or study purposes.
The EU Blue Card
The EU Blue Card is related to the Temporary Residence Permit, but it aims at a particular group of people and has extended validity. The EU Blue Card is for foreign residents of non-EU nations who are vastly skilled in a career and desire to work in Germany. Highly skilled employees mean that they have completed a higher education degree such as a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. Those who are more likely to get the EU Blue Card have an IT or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) background.
To qualify for the EU Blue Card, they must find a job in Germany, which allows them to practice the skills they have gained during their degree. The job must be in the same field as their educational qualifications. In addition, their job should allow them to earn a minimum of 50,800 Euros annually and they should have high German proficiency.
The EU Blue Card is effective for four years and those who possess it can then instantly get permanent residence if they continue their jobs. They become eligible to get the permanent residence after 33 months, but if they know German well, they can obtain it after 21 months.
If you possess an EU Blue Card, you can also take along your partner to Germany. The spouse does not necessarily have to understand German well, and can work after you acquire your permanent residence.
Permanent Residence Permit
To be permitted to reside in Germany for as long as you desire to, you need to acquire the German Permanent Residence Permit. This is also referred to as the Settlement Permit or in German, Niederlassungserlaubnis. With the permanent residence permit, you are allowed to work in Germany as well as move in and out of the country at any time you need.
This permit is generally given to people after they have possessed the temporary residence permit for a few years or for those that have the EU Blue Card. They are required to demonstrate that they have worked for at least 5 years, that their job was ratified by the Federal Employment Agency, and that they have disbursed the necessary taxes and payments to the government. Furthermore, the German language adeptness requirements are more rigorous, so you will need to understand more advanced German.
If you possess a permanent residence permit, your offspring and partner are permitted to join you. They will initially get a temporary residence permit, and after a few years, they will be able to acquire the permanent permit.
German Residence Permit Requirements
To be granted any of the residence permits, you will have to satisfy a few requirements. Majority of them will be the same, such as:
- Possess a valid passport from another nation
- Not possess a criminal record
- Be adept in German in at least a B1 level
- Possess German health insurance
- Pass a medical exam which verifies that you are healthy enough to work and/or study
- Be financially established and support yourself and your family
- If you will work in Germany, you will require a letter from your boss with the job offer and depiction
- If you will study in Germany, you will require evidence that you have been accepted into a university
- If you will join your partner in Germany, you will require evidence of marriage such as a marriage certificate
If you have all of these documents and fulfill the requirements, then you can begin your application process.
How to Apply for German Residence Permit
The stages of applying for a German Residence Permit are described below.
Register your German address
Whether you are submitting an application from Germany within the first 90 days or from your home nation, the first thing you have to do is register your new German address with the government. Germany has this condition and you must satisfy it in order to be qualified for a residence permit.
If you do not register your address, you may get penalized and your permit might be rejected. After you satisfy this condition, you will obtain a certificate which you can attach to your papers.
Health Insurance and Bank Account
If you haven’t previously obtained health insurance in Germany, then you must do so before you submit an application for the residence permit. Germany insists on you to be insured and will hardly ever accept foreign insurance policies. So get yourself coverage from a German establishment.
In addition, to prove financial stability, you might want to open a German bank account and transfer your funds there. You will then get any financial bank statements and attach them to your other documents, so as to prove you can support yourself and your family.
Fill an application form and set an appointment.
You can apply from your local immigration office, where you can go and pick up an application form. Besides getting the application form, you can also set up an appointment. The sooner you set your appointment, the better. The immigration offices in Germany are always crowded and the wait time is long, so you might as well get an appointment soon to avoid surpassing your 90 days.
Attend your appointment
On the day of your meeting, try to be there as timely as possible. You will almost certainly have to wait even if your appointment has a set time. Make sure you have your document file with you and you are not missing anything.
When your turn is up, you will have an interview of around 10 minutes. The official will examine your document file and if the whole thing is fine, you will be sent home to await processing. If you are lacking any documents, you will need to set a different appointment and bring the extra ones.
Your residence permit application will need to be treated for around two to three weeks and then you will receive a response. If you get your permit, you are allowed to stay in Germany for the length of time that it is granted to you. If you are denied, you might want to check out the reasons why that happened and try to improve your application the next time.