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Complete guide to obtaining a permanent residence permit in Germany, ways to get it, eligibility criteria, requirements, and FAQs

Germany offers a high-level education, a strong economy, and – most importantly – great opportunities for international highly skilled workers. Not to mention, you would get direct access to the European Union work market. So, it is no wonder that the German permanent residence permit is one of the most coveted immigration permits in the world.

Your Rights as a Permanent Resident of Germany

Your rights as a permanent resident of Germany are:

  • You can live in Germany indefinitely, without needing to reapply for a residence permit.
  • You can change your job as you wish, even if it is not related to your academic qualifications or training.
  • You can start a business, even if not related to your academic qualifications or training.
  • If you need to, you can benefit from social security assistance, such as unemployment benefits.
  • You can get a bank loan.
  • You can enroll in a German university and apply for financial assistance during your studies.
  • You can apply for naturalization as a German citizen, once you have lived in Germany uninterruptedly for eight years.

Germany Permanent Residence Requirements

To be eligible for permanent residence in Germany, you must have been living in Germany as a skilled worker for at least four years. You have to fulfill the following requirements as well:

  • You must be capable of covering your living expenses without public assistance.
  • You must have contributed to the statutory pension insurance fund for at least 48 months (mandatory or voluntary).
  • Your job must be related to your academic degree or vocational training.
  • You can speak German at least on a B1 level.
  • You are able to accommodate yourself and your family members adequately.

Some, such as graduates of German universities or highly skilled workers, can obtain their permanent residence permits quicker.

Documents Required to Apply for a Settlement Permit in Germany

The documents you have to submit at the Ausländerbehörde for your German permanent residency application are:

  • Passport.
  • Settlement Permit Application Form (Antrag auf Erteilung der Niederlassungserlaubnis).
  • A recent biometric picture. Make sure it follows the German visa picture guidelines.
  • Health insurance certificate. If you are enrolled with statutory insurance, submit a confirmation from your provider. If you are enrolled with private health insurance, submit the insurance policy and proof of paid contributions.
  • German language proficiency certificate.
  • For employed individuals:
    • Employment contract.
    • The current certificate issued by the employer within the previous 14 days.
    • Your salary statements from the previous six months.
    • The pension insurance institution certificate.
  • For self-employed and freelancers:
    • A completed audit report, completed by a tax consultant, auditor or tax agent.
    • Your last tax assessment notice.
    • Any additional documentation requested.
  • For pensioners: Notice of pension entitlement
  • Document of home ownership or a lease agreement. This is to prove you can adequately accommodate yourself and any family members.
  • Proof of address registration. You need a Certificate of Registration proving Germany is your main place of residence.
  • Notice of pension information, issued by the German Pension Fund.
  • Proof you have paid your social security contributions.
  • German university degree or vocational certificate. If you attended university/training in Germany.
  • Marriage Certificate. If you are married to a German national.
  • Your professional license. If you are a highly qualified professional.

The Ausländerbehörde could request any additional documents.

How to Apply for a German Permanent Residence Permit?

To apply for a German residence permit, you have to make an appointment with the local Ausländerbehörde (German Foreigner Authorities) before the expiry of your current residence permit. You have to collect all the required documents, submit them at the Ausländerbehörde, pay the application fee, and enter an interview.

Depending on where in Germany you live, you could make an appointment online, via phone, or in-person. You can find the locations of the Ausländerbehörde on the website of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

After you finish your interview, it can take up to three weeks for the Ausländerbehörde to make a decision. The process to get permanent residency in Germany could be quite complicated and filled with legal procedures. To make things easier for yourself it is always a good idea to get professional assistance.

Legal advisors at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte offer complete support during the entire process and will represent your case with the relevant authorities. Having represented successfully numerous applicants, including doctors, engineers, IT specialists and managers, they possess the necessary experience to help you with the application for a German Settlement Permit. Contact them now!

Fast-Track Germany Permanent Residence Permit

If you are in one of the following categories, then you become eligible for permanent residency in Germany quicker than in four years’ time:

  • A graduate from a German university or vocational school.
  • A highly qualified professional.
  • EU Blue-Card holder.
  • A self-employed person.
  • A family member of a German citizen.

Germany Permanent Residency for Graduates

If you are a graduate from a German university or vocational school and have worked in German for at least two years, then you can apply for permanent residence if:

  • Your job is related to your degree or vocational training that you received in Germany.
  • You have paid your pension insurance for 24 months.
  • You can speak German at least at the B1 level and pass the “Life in Germany” test.

However, international students cannot immediately apply for permanent residence after graduation, even if they have lived in Germany for several years during their studies. You will need to find a job first, work for two years, and then you can become a permanent resident.

Permanent Residency for Highly Qualified Professionals in Germany

If you are a highly qualified professional, you may be able to receive a permanent resident permit as soon as you enter Germany. A highly qualified professional is someone with specialized knowledge in their field or university teachers or assistants with executive functions. To get permanent residency immediately, you must:

  • Have academic training.
  • Be able to integrate into the German way of life.
  • Be able to cover your financial expenses without public assistance.

Permanent Residency in Germany for EU Blue Card Holders

If you have an EU Blue Card, you can become a permanent resident after 33 months of living and working in Germany. You must have been working in a job suited to your qualifications and have paid the monthly contributions to the statutory pension insurance fund.

Additionally, you must speak German at least on a A1 level, have knowledge of the way of life in Germany, and have an adequate space of living.

Germany Permanent Residence for Self-Employed Workers

If you have been working in Germany as a self-employed person for the past three years, and you currently have a valid residence permit allowing you to be self-employed, you can apply for German permanent residence. You have to be “successfully self-employed” at the time of application.

Additionally, you have to prove that you can cover yours and your family’s living expenses.

Permanent Residency for Family Members of German Citizens

If you are an immediate family member of a German citizen and you are employed in Germany, then you can apply for permanent residence after three years. You must:

  • Speak German at least B1 level.
  • Prove that you intend to continue living with your German citizen relative.
  • Have a personal income and will not depend on social security assistance.
  • Have a work permit.
  • Have contributed to your pension insurance.

Generally, the dependent family members of German citizens can apply for permanent residency after five years.

German Residence Permit for US Citizens

As an American citizen, you can become a permanent resident of Germany if you work and live there for at least four years. You have to work in a profession related to your education or training. If you have also finished your studies in Germany, you can get permanent residence after two years of work.

This means that you first need a temporary residence permit.

While you do not need to apply for an entry visa to Germany, you do have to get a residence permit at the Ausländerbehörde (German Foreigner Authorities) just like everyone else. Legal advisors at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte will represent your case with the relevant authorities. They specialize in assisting US citizens throughout the entire process of settling in Germany. Having represented successfully numerous applicants, including doctors, engineers, IT specialists and managers, they possess the necessary experience to help you with the application for a German Settlement Permit. Contact them now!

German Permanent Residence Test (Life in German Test)

As part of the German permanent residence requirements, you have to prove you can speak German and that you have knowledge of the German society, history, and culture. The easiest way to do this is by finishing a series of integration courses, which consists of language and orientation classes.

You can choose your own integration course provider after receiving a certificate of eligibility from the immigration authorities.

These courses focus on important parts of daily life, such as writing emails, filling out forms, making phone calls, applying for jobs in German, and more. You will also learn about the German legal system, history and culture, your rights and obligations, and what values are  important in Germany, such as equality and tolerance.

At the end of the courses, you will have to enter the “Life in German” test, which you can submit as proof of your language proficiency and knowledge of German life.

You can learn more about the Integration Course (Integrationskurse) here.

Cost of the German Permanent Residence Permit

Generally, you have to pay €113 for a German permanent residence permit. However, if you are a highly qualified professional, the fee is €147, whereas if you are self-employed, the fee is €124. Turkish citizens pay a reduced fee of €28.80.

If your application is rejected, you have to pay a processing fee of €56.50.

You usually pay the application fee after you submit the documents, either in cash or through a bank transfer.

Can My Permanent Residence Permit be Withdrawn/Lost?

Yes, you may lose your permanent resident title in Germany if:

  • You move to another country or stay outside Germany for longer than 6 months in a row within a year.
  • You gave false information or documents to the Immigration Authorities during your application.
  • You prove to be a threat to German public safety and order.

German Permanent Residency to Citizenship

You can become a naturalized citizen of Germany eight years after receiving your permanent residence permit. During those eight years, you must have lived in Germany continuously.

Travel Rights as a German Permanent Resident

As a permanent resident of Germany, you can travel visa-free to all countries in the Schengen Zone for a period of 90 days. You can also visit several other European countries like Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Kosovo, Mexico, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, and Turkey.

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