Many non-German residents in Germany tend to bring their families with them once they have settled, specifically spouses and children. The Immigration Authorities in Germany, support reunification of families as a necessary way of making family life possible, even when the resident does not hold a permanent residence permit, but rather a temporary long stay permit.
Citizens of the European Union, European Economic Area, and the European Free Trade Association, do not need a residence permit to enter and work in Germany, and even bring their families with them. They only need to be able to support them financially and have enough room as judged by the German authorities. However, any family member who is not a citizen of the above mentioned countries will need to apply for a German Family Reunion Visa.
The Family Reunion visa, as the name says, is a long stay visa that is issued for the purpose of bringing family members of German residents to Germany.
There are some requirements that certain relatives and partners have to meet in order for them to qualify for a family reunion visa in Germany. There are special rules and requirements for each of the family members that a resident in Germany wants to bring over. Core family members are more privileged (spouses / children) rather than parents, siblings or cousins.
The Sponsor of Application for Family Reunification
A “sponsor” is called the person who legally resides in Germany and wishes to bring in his or her family members by offering them financial support and sufficient living space for himself or herself and the family member joining them.
Third-country nationals who want to act as sponsors for a spouse or registered partner, a child, a parent or another family member must have one of the following:
- Possession of a settlement permit,
- An EU long-term residence permit,
- A residence permit or
- An EU Blue Card.
This is the first vital requirement alongside with the financial capability of the sponsor to offer financial security and a safe living habitat to the family members he or she wants to bring in.
Who can benefit from the Family Reunion Visa?
Though all family members can apply for this type of visa, core family members are more privileged. Other family members shall be granted a visa in order to prevent particular hardship. The German Immigration Authorities ask for different requirements for every family member, and if the requirements are not met, the application is rejected.
Registered partner, spouse (husband / wife)
If a sponsor who is a third-world country national residing in Germany wants to bring his or her registered partner/ spouse, beside of the above mentioned requirements, they both must be older than 18. The immigrating spouse or registered partner must also have at least basic German language capability. However, sometimes even when these requirements are met the Immigration Authorities might reject your visa, because they might asses that the other requirements have not been met.
Since same-sex marriages are not recognized in Germany, same-sex marriages and same-sex registered partnerships will be recognized as a civil partnership in Germany.
As for applicants in polygamous marriages, if the ‘sponsor’ is already living in Germany with a spouse or registered partner, no other spouse or partner shall be granted a visa to join them.
If both parents or a sole parent wish to bring their children to live with them in Germany, the German Immigration Authorities will grant these children with visas as long as parents met the above mentioned requirements, and also:
- The ‘sponsor’ parent must have the sole right of care and custody of the child.
- If sole parent, then he or she must the have the sole right of care and custody of the child.
- When parents share the right of care and custody, the other partner must grant the right of custody to the ‘sponsor’ in order for the child to be eligible.
The procedures will go faster and the visa can be obtained easier if the child has at least basic German language ability, and can integrate into the way of life prevailing in the Federal Republic of Germany, as judged by the German authorities.
If one wishes to bring over his or her adult children in Germany, aside of the above mentioned conditions, the candidate also must not be married. Parents cannot bring their minor children in Germany too, for as long as they are married. However, this does not remove the possibility that the candidate gets another type of visa.
If a minor third-world country national is a resident in Germany, and no one who possesses the right of care and custody is a resident in Germany, then his biological and adoptive parents shall be given the residence permit to join the minor.
On the other hand, parents of adult children residing in Germany can only join them in order to prevent particular hardship.
Other family members
Other family members as siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews or cousins, may also be granted a residence permit for the purpose of subsequent immigration to join the foreigner in order to avoid particular hardship, i.e. when the immigrating family member needs family support which can only be provided by the family members living in Germany.
Germany Family Reunion Visa Document Requirements
- Passport – which must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the length of stay applied for, not older than 10 years, and with at least two blank pages for the visa.
- Two completed and signed application forms residence permit, available at the visa department.
- Two completed and signed notification / explanation forms in German or English (available at the visa department).
- Two (some embassies or consulates ask for three) recent biometric passport photographs.
Proof concerning the purpose of travel
- A marriage certificate attested by the foreign office, translated into German and legalized by the embassy
- Recent extract from the family register
- Proof of German language skills at the level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages by an ALTE certified provider of examinations
- For the purpose of family reunification with a German spouse: a copy of the German spouse’s passport and identity card
- For the purpose of family reunification with a non-German spouse: proof of legal residence and passport of the spouse living in Germany, including a notice of the residence status in the passport
- For the purpose of family reunification with a German child: birth certificate of the child, proof of the child’s nationality and, if necessary, proof of the right of care and custody
- For the purpose of family reunification with parents: Birth certificates of the children attested by your country’s foreign office, translated into German and legalized by the embassy
Note that all documents must be produced in German or English or together with a translation into German provided by a translator recognized by the embassy. All official documents must be provided in a translated, attested and legalized version.
Application Procedure for a German Family Reunion Visa
The application procedure for Long Term Family Reunion Visa is similar to every other visa application procedure. First of all take care to gather all of the necessary documents, including proof that the ‘sponsor’ has enough room for you and has enough financial means to support you and themselves.
Appoint an interview online through the website of the German mission in your country. On the day of the appointment, attend the interview on time with all the required documents. Do not forget to take with you any of the required documents.
If the interviewer asks you to gather extra documents do so. Keep in mind that your passport will be kept at the embassy or consulate until they issue or reject the visa, so do not appoint the interview if you know that you will have to travel abroad in the meantime, since if you withdraw your passport you will have to make a new visa application appointment.
You will have to pay a visa fee for the interview. Normally, family reunion long-term visa (category D) costs 75,00 Euro for adults and for children up to 18 years 37,50 Euro.
German Family Reunion Visa Processing Time
The processing time for a long term visa can take several months. You have to first make an appointment at the German embassy or consulate in your country of residence, that depending on the number of applications made, may take several days to weeks.
Requirements after you arrive in Germany
Upon their arrival in Germany, all family members must get registered at the residence registration office and the Alien Authority. You must have with you your passport and other documents (birth certificates, a marriage certificate or civil partnership documentation, salary slips, tenancy agreements, tax certificates, etc.)
The ‘sponsor’ should also make sure that the family members he or she has brought in Germany will have access to health care.
Often family members are condition to attend German language classes and then enter an extra exam to prove they have at least basic German language.
Partners and Relatives – Who Can Work?
Every adult that comes to Germany on a Family Reunion visa shall be allowed to work. The only condition is that the relative they are joining shall meet one of the requirements as follows:
- The sponsor possesses a residence permit authorizing employment for themselves.
- The sponsor is an EU Blue Card holder.
- The sponsor is in Germany as a researcher or a highly skilled person.