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Applying for a Residence Permit for Germany

Here, we will explain whether you will need a residence permit for Germany, the eligibility criteria, and the application process. For expert assistance with your immigration matter, contact Reiss Edwards, immigration lawyers and solicitors in London.

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If you are a non-EEA/EU national planning to work, study, or join a family member in Germany, you have much to look forward to. Germany is renowned for its historic towns and cities, beautiful and diverse scenery, friendly people, top universities, strong employment opportunities, and its rich culture and heritage. As with all aspects of moving to another country is the administration and paperwork which must be completed, including applying for immigration and residence permission. Anyone from outside the EU/EEA, and therefore does not have the right of free movement, requires a residence permit if they plan to stay in Germany for more than 90 days. Here, we will explain whether you will need a residence permit for Germany, the eligibility criteria, and the application process

Am I Eligible For A Residence Permit For Germany As A Non-EEA/EU Citizen?

Whether you are eligible for a residence permit in Germany depends on your circumstances and if you fit the criteria for one of the types of permits available. A temporary residence permit is referred to as a ‘Aufenthaltserlaubnis’ in German (meaning limited residence permit) and is intended to allow eligible third-country nationals to reside legally in Germany for a limited period of time. In order to be granted a temporary residence permit, you must be travelling to Germany for one of the following reasons:


Applicants must be from outside the EU/EEA, have a job offer from a German employer (the employer will need to provide proof that they advertised the role within Germany but were unable to find a suitable candidate) and speak German to a sufficient standard. Permission is typically required from the German Federal Employment Agency before an offer of employment can be made.

Another option is to apply for a short-term residence permit (typically for up to six months) if you do not have a job offer but wish to look for skilled work. This option is only available to skilled workers who have graduated in Germany with a degree or from a non-German university with a recognised degree.


International students undertaking an undergraduate or postgraduate degree course in Germany can apply for a temporary residence permit. The permit is typically granted for the duration of the course. Study residence permit holders can also work during their time in Germany (120 days full time or 240 days part-time). International students then have the option to further extend their permit once they graduate to enable them to find a job in Germany. If they are successful in doing so, they can then switch from a study residence permit to an employment residence permit.

It is also possible to secure a residence permit in Germany to attend vocational training.


It is also possible for a non-EU/EEA national to apply for a temporary residence permit to stay in Germany to get married to a German citizen or a person with German permanent residence (PR) status.

Eu Blue Card

In addition to the above residence permit options, another route to consider is the EU Blue Card scheme. The EU Blue Card (Blaue Karte in German) is an EU wide immigration programme that gives highly qualified workers from outside the bloc the permission they need to live and work in an EU nation. The scheme is specifically intended for those with university degrees and above and an offer of employment with above-average pay. The EU Blue Card is available in 25 EU nations (not Denmark and Ireland), including Germany. According to the latest rules, applicants must have a degree or higher, a job offer that requires degree level skills, and a salary of at least “EUR 56,800 (in 2021). A gross annual salary of at least EUR 44,304 (in 2021) is required for employees in the fields of mathematics, IT, natural sciences, engineering and human medicine”.

Can My Family Members Join Me In Germany?

If you are a non-EU/EEA national and you hold either a work permit, temporary residence, permanent residence, or an EU Blue Card for Germany, then your spouse and children will be able to join you. In order for your spouse and dependant children to join you, you will need to prove that you:

  • Have suitable accommodation in Germany – evidence will be needed to show that you have suitable accommodation in Germany for you and your family. You will need to show that the property you have purchased or are renting has enough space/bedrooms. Specifically, you will need to show that each member of your family who will be joining over the age of six has as least 12 square metres. Where your children are below the age of six, evidence of at least ten square metres of living accommodation is required.
  • Have sufficient health insurance and funds – the immigration authorities in Germany will want to see that you have sufficient health insurance for all of the family members who will be joining you in addition to sufficient living funds.

How Do I Apply For A Residence Permit In Germany?

Having arrived in Germany, your family members will then need to apply for a residence permit within three months with their local immigration office.

The steps involved in applying for a residence permit are as follows:

  • Make an appointment with your local foreigner’s authority office in Germany
  • Complete the application form for a residence permit for the required purpose (e.g. work, study, family).
  • Request a list of documents from the foreigner’s authority office; these documents must then be prepared and submitted – these may include:
    • passports
    • birth certificates
    • marriage certificate
    • evidence of sufficient funds to support the family – this may include copies of payslips
    • details of the family’s accommodation in Germany
  • Pay the application fee of EUR 100.

Once approved, residence permits will then be issued for each family member.

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