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Third Country Family Reunification: Children and Parents

In cases of family reunification involving European Union citizens, European Union law regulates the issue. This is the case due to EU citizens having the right to freedom of movement. However, if the case involves third-country nationals, then German national regulations apply to family reunification. On this page, we will examine German family reunification law regarding the reunification of adult children with their parents.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our lawyers specialise in immigration law and will provide you with the assistance you need in this area. This page will provide you with the basic outline of this legal field, but please contact us if you require more assistance. We provide expert counsel in resolving disputes in this area.

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Can I Bring my Parents to Germany Permanently?

There is no German visa requirement for EU citizens who wish to bring their parents to Germany. Under EU Freedom of Movement, they have the right to live and work in Germany. However, the situation for third-country nationals and their parents is different.

Firstly, the third-country national should possess a long-term German residence permit such as an EU Blue Card, a residence permit for highly qualified individuals or a permanent residence permit. This is per § 29 (1) AufenthG. Our German visa lawyers advise on all German residence permits and visas. Short-term visas such as the Business Visa or Schengen Visa is not as accommodating for family reunification. From there, the applicant must also be able to pay to maintain the family members who join them. They cannot rely on social benefits for support (cf. § 27 (3) AufenthG). Furthermore, the applicant must ensure sufficient accommodation for their family members (§ 29 Paragraph 1 Nr. 2 AufenthG). If the family reunion in question is that with a German citizen, the previously mentioned requirements do not apply.

The requirements for family reunification between parents and children are more straightforward in the case of German citizens. Contact our German citizenship lawyers for advice on gaining German citizenship through naturalization, marriage, or other means.

The parents must also fulfil certain requirements for family reunification. Of particular importance here are the general requirements of § 5 AufenthG, according to which the parents must guarantee their livelihood security. Included amongst this is holding sufficient health insurance to cover themselves without the need of recourse to public funds (§ 2(3)  AufenthG).

Alternatively, should the parents of the applicant be able to get an EU Blue Card for work purposes, then they can begin the journey of reuniting in Germany. Our legal team advises on all issues concerning German immigration law and will provide comprehensive support in all visa application processes.


Visa and Residence Permit to Enter Germany

Family members of an EU citizen who are not EU nationals themselves need a Family Reunification Visa (Visum zur Familienzusammenführung) to enter Germany. This can be applied for in consulates and embassies of the applicant’s home country. If the visa has been granted, the next step is for the EU citizen to apply for a residence card for the family member at the Immigration Department of his place of residence within three months.

For the visa, as well as the residence permit, the third-country national requires;

  • A valid passport,
  • A current biometric photo,
  • Confirmation of relationship with the EU citizen,
  • Proof of residence,
  • Registration certificate of the EU citizen,
  • Proof of sufficient health insurance,
  • Proof of income.

Reunification to Avoid Exceptional Hardship

In principle, parents can only reunite with their children if those children are minors. In special cases of hardship, however, parents can also be allowed to reunite with their adult children. The decision regarding what constitutes “hardship” is a matter of discretion of the courts and can be difficult to prove.

§ 36 (2) German Residence Act (AufenthG) regulates the immigration of other family members; including the parents of a child who is not a minor. Although the paragraph applies primarily to family reunification with non-German citizens; the reference in § 28 (4) AufenthG also applies if the parents wish to reunite with a German citizen.

As a rule, an extraordinary hardship is assumed if the parents can no longer lead an independent life. This means that they are dependent on family assistance. Furthermore, it must be proven that this help can only be provided in a reasonable manner in Germany. The next sections of this piece will explore these cases in further detail.


Need of Care

The granting of a residence permit, per § 36 (2) German Residence Act, is intended to establish and maintain family relationships. The issuing of the permit must be deemed to be necessary to avoid the requirement for extraordinary assistance. Therefore, the applicant may be granted a visa for family reunification for a family member in need of long-term care; if that family member depends on assistance, the applicant can only provide in Germany.

This entails that the personal assistance provided in the country of origin, or the professional nursing assistance offered, does not meet the applicant’s needs. Whether this is the case is analysed on a case-by-case basis. Such case-by-case analysis allows for the individual characteristics of the persons concerned to be taken into account. Such characteristics include illness, disability, need for care and psychological distress. On the other hand, circumstances resulting from the country of origin’s general living conditions are not considered.

This means that the need for family reunification to avoid exceptional hardship may be denied if other family members are living in the country of origin who are in a position to care for that family member. However, the German Federal Administrative Court has ruled that reunification is not automatically ruled out due to outside help availability. In cases where a person’s loss of autonomy due to illness is so far advanced that it is objectively understandable that he or she requires comfort and security, family reunification can be made possible. This even applies if the help of third parties is available. Furthermore, it is also taken into account that close family members’ need for care and support is valued differently across different cultures.

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