Ausländerrecht, Einbürgerung, Visa, Familiennachzug, Aufenthaltsrecht

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Practice Area - German alien law - visa - permanent residency

The German Aliens law governs the residence and entry of foreign nationals.

The law firm Dr. Buerstedde in German Aleines law.

Pracitic areas - advise and litigation

  • Naturalization
  • permanent residency
  • citizenship of a parent
  • adoption by German citizens
  • reclaiming of lost citizenship
  • immigrant visas
  • fiancés, spouses, parents, sons, daughter, brothers, sisters of German citizens
  • spouses, unmarried sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents
  • foreign nationals with approved immigrant visa petitions filed on their behalf by U.S. employers
  • nonimmigrant visas
  • foreign executives; business travelers;tourists; artists, athletes; cultural exchange visitors
  • scientists; educators;traders; investors; specialists or professionals
  • foreign students and their immediate families
  • diplomatic and foreign government officials
  • permanent residency
  • reclaiming of the German citizenship

Law firm - Attorney Dr. Buerstedde in Germany

The law firm Buerstedde advises companies and individuals in foreign national law

For further information please contact us.

Tel. + 49 (0) 2222 / 93 11 80

Fax. + 49 (0) 2222 / 93 11 82

Please write an email to

We advise an represent before the compentent bodies (German Embassy, consulats, German courts).

Residence titles

First-time entry into the country generelly requires a visa for the Federal Republic (national visa), which is then may be converted into a residence permit or a settlement permit in Germany.

A limited residence permit is issued for the possible residence purposes listed in the Act (education or training, gainful employment, international-law, humanitarian, political or family grounds).

An unlimited settlement permit is issued if an alien has possessed a residence permit for five years and fulfils additional requirements (secure income, no criminal record, adequate command of the German language, etc.).

family members immigrate to join an alien, the alien must be in possession of a settlement permit or residence permit and adequate living space. Further requirements must also be fulfilled, depending on the status of the alien resident in Germany.

In the case of subsequent immigration of children, the age limit of 16 years has been retained. Young people between the ages of 16 and 18 may be granted a residence title in cases of hardship or on the basis of a positive integration prognosis. In future, however, children under the age of 16 shall have the right to immigrate to join a parent with sole custody in Germany.

Non-EU and non-EEA (European Economic Area) nationals

Generally foreigners require a visa for stays in Germany.
A visa is not required for semi-annual visits of up to three months for nationals of countries for which the European Community has abolished the visa requirement.

Under German law (section 71 (2) of the Residence Act), responsibility for issuing visas lies with the missions of the Federal Republic of Germany, i.e. its embassies and consulates-general.

Visas are issued by the mission responsible for the area in which the applicant has his/her ordinary residence or domicile.

The fee for a so-called national visa (person plans to stay within Germany for more than three months, e.g. for a course of study) is 60 euro.

As a rule, applicants must submit visa applications, together with all necessary documents, in person at the German mission responsible for their place of residence.

Visa application forms can be obtained from the mission free of charge (in the local language). Applicants may also download the forms.

Applicants wishing to stay in Germany for a period of more than 90 days but needing to travel to another Schengen country within the first three months of their stay (e.g. scientists) may obtain a so-called national "hybrid visa". The fee for a hybrid visa is 60 euro.

The fee for a Schengen visa (valid for travel to 24 Schengen countries, stay of up to 90 days) is 60 euro.

Labour migration

The new German Immagration Act provides for highly qualified persons to be granted permanent residence from the outset. Such persons may receive a settlement permit immediately. Family members who enter Germany with such persons or subsequently are entitled to take up gainful employment.

Promotion of the settlement of
self-employed persons: as a rule self-employed persons receive a residence permit if they invest at least 500.000 euro and create a minimum of 5 jobs. If these requirements are not met, each case is examined on its own merits to determine whether there is an overriding economic or specific regional interest, to assess its impact on the economy and to check its financial basis.

Students are now entitled to remain in Germany for up to one year after successfully completing their studies for the purpose of seeking employment.

The general ban on the recruitment of
unqualified and low-qualified persons is to be retained, with a regulation allowing exceptions for individual occupation categories. In addition, approval may be granted in justified instances if there is a public interest in an individual taking up employment (Residence Act, Section 18 (4)).

A residence title may be issued only when a
concrete job offer has been made.

Immigration on humanitarian, political and similar grounds – asylum

From now on refugee status shall also be granted in the case of non-state persecution pursuant to the EU Asylum Qualification Directive.

A new addition is the recognition of gender-specific persecution, i.e. a threat to a person's life or infliction of bodily harm also constitutes persecution if it takes place solely on account of their gender.

German rules on citizenship

The German rules on citizenship were thoroughly revised with the entry into force of the amended Nationality Act (Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz) on 1 January 2000. The rules underwent another lesser revision with the entry into force of the Immigration Act (Zuwanderungsgesetz) on 1 January 2005.

Provisions for foreigners living in Germany

Children born in Germany to foreign parents may acquire German nationality if certain conditions are met. They must however decide between the ages of 18 and 23 whether to retain their German nationality or the nationality of their parents.

Pursuant to section 7 of the Nationality Act, repatriates returning to Germany in or after 1993 automatically acquire German nationality upon receipt of the papers issued under section 15 of the Federal Expellees Act after they arrive in Germany.

As a general rule, foreigners now have the right to become naturalized after eight years of habitual residence in Germany, provided they meet the relevant conditions, instead of the fifteen years previously required. The minimum period of residence for spouses of German nationals is usually shorter. For naturalization, it is necessary to prove adequate knowledge of German. A clean record and commitment to the tenets of the Basic Law (Constitution) are further criteria. The person to be naturalized must also be able to financially support him/herself.

In general, those applying for naturalization must give up their foreign nationality. However, in contrast to the old rules, there are generous exceptions which allow applicants to retain their old nationality. These apply for example to elderly persons and victims of political persecution. Applicants may also keep their nationality if it is legally impossible for them to renounce it or if they cannot be expected to do so, e.g. because of the excessive cost or degrading procedures used. The same is true if renouncing the foreign nationality would bring serious disadvantages, especially economic disadvantages or problems with property and assets. The rules have also been relaxed for the citizens of most EU countries.

Germans living abroad

The most important provisions for Germans living abroad are:

Children born abroad to one or more German parents who themselves were born abroad on or after 1 January 2000 (entry into force of the revised Nationality Act), will in principle no longer acquire German nationality. The only exceptions to this rule are if the child would otherwise be stateless or if the German parent(s) register(s) the birth with the German mission responsible for where they live within one year of the birth of the child (section 4 (4) of the Nationality Act).

It is now easier for people who have lost their German nationality by choosing to acquire a foreign nationality (section 25 of the Nationality Act) to
re-acquire their German nationality provided they move back to Germany and fulfil certain other conditions.

Former Germans may also re-acquire German nationality without having to give up their place of residence abroad. In such cases, the opinion of the local German mission abroad carries considerable weight (section 13 of the Nationality Act).

Foreigners can also be naturalized whilst living abroad, provided they have special ties with Germany to justify it (section 14 of the Nationality Act).

It is now easier for Germans who acquire a
foreign nationality to retain their German nationality. Pursuant to section 25 (2) of the Nationality Act, both public and private interests must be weighed up when deciding whether to allow someone to keep their German nationality. In the case of Germans living abroad, a key factor to be considered is whether they still have ties with Germany, such as close relatives or property in the country. Please note that permission to retain German nationality must be obtained before acquiring the new nationality.

German nationals who voluntarily enter the forces or comparable armed groups of a state of which they are also a national without the consent of the relevant German authorities automatically lose their German nationality.

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