Family members

Are you a citizen of an EU Member State? Then your spouse and children can live and work in Germany without restrictions. They do not require a special residence permit.

If you are from a third country, there are certain requirements that have to be met for your family to come to Germany and live with you.

• Residence title: You have a residence or settlement permit or an "EU Blue Card" for Germany as a worker.
• Living space: You have successfully rented an apartment in Germany that is big enough for your family.
• Money: You have enough financial resources to provide for your family.
• Legal age: Your spouse is of legal age, i.e. at least 18 years old.

The spouse must be able to prove basic German-language skills in order to receive a residence permit. However, this is not necessary if

• You personally are a holder of an EU Blue Card.
• You work in Germany as a highly-qualified worker or researcher.
• Your spouse has a higher education qualification.
• You are a citizen of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the United States of America.

If you and your spouse have a residence permit or you are a single parent and have custody of your children, your children up to the age of 16 will also be issued a residence permit. There are special regulations for your children to join you in Germany if they are over the age of 16.

How you can bring your family to Germany:

• Your spouse and children apply for a residence title for family reunification for Germany at the German Embassy or at the consulate of your home country. Since this process can take some time, please submit your application as early as possible and find out which documents you need.
• Once your family has arrived in Germany, please register them at the Residence Registration Office and with the competent immigration authority. To do so, you must bring passports, birth and marriage certificates, salary or tax certificates as well as evidence of tenancy. You may also have to present other documents.

Entry regulations

Are you a citizen of an EU member state or from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland? Then you do not need a visa to enter Germany and work here.

Nationals of other countries, so-called “third countries,” require a residence title in order to work in Germany or to look for a job after arrival.

People from third countries usually need a visa to enter Germany. However, nationals of certain countries may visit Germany for up to 90 days without a visa. To find out whether your country is one of them, visit one of Germany's diplomatic missions or the website of the German Federal Foreign Office.

You can apply for your visa at the German diplomatic mission in your home country that is responsible for your administrative district. Before applying for the visa, please find out what requirements you need to meet and which documents you require. You can find this information on the website of your embassy or consulate. The German Federal Foreign Office lists all the German diplomatic missions and their contact details on its website. Here can also find general information about entering Germany.

The diplomatic missions usually require two to ten working days to decide on a visa application for a short stay of up to 90 days. Applications for visas allowing you to stay longer in Germany may take several months to process. Therefore, please apply for your visa in good time. A fee is usually charged for a visa.

Residence permit

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.

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 or at the immigration authorities.

Settlement Permit

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.

Registration obligation

Once you live in Germany, you must register your address at the Resident Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) or the Citizens’ Advice Service (Bürgeramt) in your town. You must register no later than one week after you have moved into your accommodation. If you are late to register, you may have to pay a fine. Late re-registration may negatively impact your residence status.

To register you need a valid passport or identification card. When you rent a house or an apartment, you often have to state the name of the landlord or present the lease. You can find the contact data and opening times of your Residence Registration Office on the website of your new city of residence.

Related Links

Make it in Germany

Federal Foreign Office

To find the right govering authority (Unfortunately, this page is only available in German. Our Rhineland-Palatinate Welcome Centre will be happy to help you)

Family reunification:

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees

Do you have any other questions? The Welcome Center would be happy to help you. Do not hesitate to contact us.