German immigration laws are complex and can take some time to navigate. Getting your head around all the bureaucracy can be the most challenging part of the process. Seeking help and advice at your local consulate/ embassy can really help you feel more confident!
Remember, EU citizens don’t require a visa to live in Germany for up to three months but after three months EU citizens must register with their local registration office. EU citizens also don’t require a work permit or an international driving licence.
EU citizens employed in Germany are allowed to bring their family to Germany (spouses and children under 21) and they do not require a permit to work. Grandparents can also be brought but it must be proven that they’re financially secured.
Non-EU citizens can also bring their family members to Germany but they must meet certain conditions first.
If you’re from a nation outside of the EU you will need a visa and you’re advised to begin the application process as early as possible to avoid problems later. German visa applications must be supported by a long list of documentation but as the documents you need to produce are subject to change it’s best to check with the German embassy just before you begin the application process.
You should also bear in mind the fact that visas are never issued from within Germany but must be applied for in your own nation.
Non-EU citizens hoping to stay in Germany for more than three months must also register at the local registration office within a week of arriving in Germany and obtain a residence permit. Only once a residence permit has been obtained can a work permit be sought from the local labour office.
As the regulations change relatively frequently it’s important to check out the most up to date information. This can be acquired from consulates, immigration offices, German embassies and the German Ministry for Foreign affairs. In complex situations hiring a lawyer is often recommended.
Some nationalities, including Australian, Japanese and American, don’t need a visa to stay in Germany for up to three months, but no paid work of any kind can be carried out during this time.
The type of visa you apply for depends on the purpose of your stay in Germany (work, holiday, study etc) and you must be able to prove your purpose. Residency permits are issued based on conditions of your visa and can take several weeks to arrive. Residency permits are only valid in conjunction with a national identity document.
For more visa information visit the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs website at www.auswaertiges-amt.de.
As Germany is part of the Schengen Area, visas granted for Germany can also be used to enter any other country which is part of the Schengen agreement and vice versa. Other countries party to the Schengen agreement include France, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Finland and Italy.
In order to become a German citizen you must first be resident in Germany for 8 years. There are then a series of conditions you must fulfil. These conditions include holding a valid residency permit, reasonable knowledge of the German language, an oath on the German constitution and a livelihood-guarantee. Spouses of German citizens must be married for a minimum of two years and have been resident in Germany for three years before their own application for citizenship can be made.
It’s also important to note that children born in Germany to foreign parents are not automatically German citizens!