Residency laws are laid out by the Law on residence, employment and integration of foreign citizens in Germany dated 25 February 2008. The following documents are proof of residency rights:
- visa (Visum)
- residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis)
- EU blue card (Blaue Karte EU)
- permanent residence permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis)
Germany is a member of the Schengen Area: certain nationalities must apply for a visa beforehand. There are four main types: A, B, C or D. For more information, check out our Schengen Visa article.
How to get a residence permit
Real estate purchase does not guarantee temporary residence. However, it can be applied for upon acquisition or incorporation of a GmbH company.
1. Business residence permit
Since 2012 the following clauses were abolished: justifying regional interest in Germany, employing five individuals, €250,000 minimum investment. Therefore, now small and medium entrepreneurs can apply for temporary residence.
Temporary residence requirements include:
- business activity beneficial to the regional economy
- proof of sufficient funds to conduct business or consent of the future creditor.
- business plan
- business proposal corresponding with applicant’s experience
Business proposal feasibility, entrepreneurial experience, total investment, potential to create jobs and student positions as well as contribution to research are also taken into consideration. Each case is studied separately and not every investor is granted a residence permit.
2. Financial solvency residence permit.
The law does not limit grounds for granting residency in Germany. In practice, local migration authorities can grant a resident permit to wealthy applicants who can prove that they own assets worth a certain amount. There are no standard or exact requirements as to the value of these assets.
In order to get a financial solvency residence permit, the applicant should engage the services of German lawyers to represent them with the migration office.
3. Other grounds for temporary residence:
- university studies. It is issued for one year with further prolongation for two years until the end of studies; applicants can apply for a residence permit, which is issued for nine months.
- employment. The local employment market, demand for the profession and its benefits for the German economy are taken into account.
- family reunification
- political asylum, refugees and applicants with Jewish parents (i.e. individuals with one Jewish parent)
Temporary residence permits are issued for a maximum of three years and can be extended. A residence permit is revoked if its holder stays outside Germany for more than six continuous months.
EU Blue Card and temporary residence
Highly qualified specialists can apply for residency after getting an EU Blue Card (alternative to a temporary residence permit). The document certifies legal residence of a foreign employee in the EU. The card is valid on the whole territory of the EU excluding Denmark, Ireland and UK. It is valid four years with the possibility of prolongation and allows its holder and their family to work, live and travel in the EU.
Germany introduced the EU Blue Card because it needs skilled specialists, particularly in the fields of IT and science.
An individual can apply for a Blue Card if they have:
- qualifications from a German or recognized university
- five years or more of work experience
- employment for at least 12 months
- annual salary exceeding €48,400 (€37,752 for professions in high demand like IT and engineering) for 2015
After 36 months of residency and work in Germany on a Blue Card, the holder can apply for permanent residence.
How to get a permanent residence permit
Permanent residence permits allows the holder to work in Germany but can be annulled if they spends more than six months outside Germany. Requirements for the permanent residence permit include:
- temporary residence permit for the last five years
- regular income
- contributions to state pension fund for the previous 60 months
- basic knowledge of German
- basic knowledge of the legal system and social policy
- accommodation in Germany
How to get citizenship
Citizenship (Staatsangehörigkeit) requires the applicant to have lived in Germany for at least 10 years, three years in case of marriage to a German citizen and two years if the family has a child. Persons of German descent have privileges when applying for citizenship.
Germany does not allow dual nationality: the applicant will have to renounce any other nationality they hold. There is an exception for those born in Germany who lived there for 8 years and attended school for 6 years (before the age of 21). These applicants are granted German citizenship as a second nationality but need to provide certificates from a German school.