Citizens of the European Union (EU) member states and the other member states of the European Economic Area (EEA) do not require a residence title to stay in Germany.
If you are not a citizen of an EU or EEA country, you must have a residence title to live in Germany.
You need a visa to enter Germany and then, after your short stay, you need a residence title which will allow you to move permanently to Germany.
The residence title may be issued as a:
• Residence permit
• EU Blue Card
• Settlement permit
• Permanent EU residence permit.
Foreign nationals generally require a permit to stay in Germany, which must be applied for at the competent immigration authority. A residence permit is always only valid for a limited period of time. According to law, it may be extended or changed to a (permanent) settlement permit. Participation in an integration course to learn the German language will be taken into consideration when extending the validity of the permit.
A residence permit is issued to people who
• would like to carry out an apprenticeship or training in Germany (§§ 16-17 German Residence Act)
• would like to work in Germany (§§ 18-21 German Residence Act)
• may remain in Germany for humanitarian or political reasons or under international law (§§ 22-26 German Residence Act)
• are migrating to Germany for family reasons (§§ 27-36 German Residence Act)
• are foreign nationals and former German citizens who want to return to Germany (§§ 37, 38 German Residence Act)
• hold a permanent right of residence in another EU Member State (§ 38a German Residence Act)
EU Blue Card
The EU Blue Card is a residence title issued to nationals of third countries with a higher education qualification or an equivalent qualification who want to look for employment in Germany which is suited to their qualifications. If the Blue Card is issued for the first time, it is generally limited to a period of four years.
In order to receive an EU Blue Card, three further requirements must be met in addition to general approval conditions:
• You can prove that you have a higher education qualification. If you did not earn the qualification in Germany, it must be recognised or comparable with a German higher education qualification.
• You either have a specific job offer or have an already signed or existing employment contract and
• At this job you earn at least a certain gross annual salary.
Under certain conditions, a permanent settlement permit can be issued to holders of an EU Blue Card after a period of 33 months. More Information can be found the website of the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees at www.bamf.de or at the immigration authorities.
A settlement permit is valid indefinitely and allows you to work in Germany. To obtain a settlement permit, you are usually required to have had a residence permit for five years and you must meet other requirements, including being able to guarantee that you can independently financially support you and your family. You are also required to have adequate German-language skills and have no criminal record. Special regulations apply to holders of an EU Blue Card.
Permanent EU residence permit
The permanent EU residence permit is an unlimited residence title which also allows you to work in Germany. To obtain this permit, you must meet similar requirements as for a settlement permit. With a permanent EU residence permit, you are entitled to move freely within the EU, unlike with the settlement permit. This allows you to obtain a limited residence permit in other member states under simplified conditions. It is possible to have both a settlement permit and a permanent EU resident permit at the same time.
You can prove that you have the adequate German-language skills required to obtain a settlement permit and a permanent EU residence permit by, for example, attending and successfully completing an integration course.