Application Procedure at the Germany mission abroad
The family member, spouse, or registered partner who wants to join their family in Germany file a visa application for family reunification with the German diplomatic mission abroad. Visas for family reunification are usually issued by the diplomatic mission (embassy or honorary consulate) of the Federal Republic of Germany to the country where the applicant ordinarily resides (e.g. lawful residence for at least six months).
However, the application may also be issued in another country. For example, since the German embassy had to close in Damascus for general public traffic, Syrians must apply for family.
The sponsor in Germany may file a corresponding application with the foreigners authority, for example, to comply with the three-month period after the recognition as an asylum seeker, as a refugee or as a beneficiary of subsidiary protection or the granting of a residence permit as a resettlement refugee (§ 29(2) German Residence Act).
Apart from that, the foreigners’ authority at the sponsor’s place of residence shall check whether the requirements concerning the available living space, the secure subsistence and the healthcare insurance are met.
In the case of Syrian protection beneficiaries, the German foreigners’ authorities may grant preliminary application approval and send this to the responsible diplomatic mission abroad. This results in less work for the latter and reduces the processing period.
Verification Procedure by the German Mission Abroad
During the visa procedure, applicants shall provide evidence of their identity, family relationship, marriage, or a registered partnership (see chapter Documentary evidence required from the applicant).
The German mission abroad also verifies whether or not the family member constitutes a threat to public policy, public security or public health by sending the data of the applicants to the Federal Office of Administration (BVA).
The Office can then follow the procedure of § 73(1) German Residence Act and send these data on to the Federal Intelligence Service, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Military Counterintelligence Service, the Federal Criminal Police Office, the German Customs Investigation Bureau to determine grounds for refusing a residence title according to § 5 (4) German Residence Act or examine other grounds for concern, or it can use an automated procedure to compare them with the data stored in the anti-terrorism database established in 2011 (§ 1 (1) Act on the Anti-Terrorism Database) according to § 72a German Residence Act.
The latter procedure is initiated if there are grounds to assume that the applicant is a member of a terrorist association, a group which supports such an association or a group which unlawfully uses force to assert international political or religious issues or supports, prepares or consciously incites to the use of such force, particularly by verbally promoting the use of such force (§ 72a (2) German Residence Act).
In case of a database hit, the Federal Office of Administration will notify the relevant security authorities, which, in turn, inform the responsible diplomatic mission via the Federal Office of Administration if there are grounds to refuse a residence title (§ 72a (3) German Residence Act).
The immigration authority at the place of residence of the sponsor must agree to the issuance of a visa to the family members and examine whether the requirements for exercising the right to family reunification are met.
Size of the accommodation: The foreigners’ authority can choose between different options to check whether sufficient living space is available:
- evidence of sufficient living area for all current and future members of the household can be provided by a tenancy or purchase agreement which specifies the floor space of the apartment
- evidence by providing the monthly expenses for the apartment
- for rented apartments: monthly rent, including expenditures for heating (recent confirmation by the landlord or account statement)
- for owned apartments: monthly expenses (interest and redemption payments for loans and monthly maintenance fees)
Conditions under which sponsors have access to healthcare insurance: Sufficient healthcare insurance coverage is deemed to exist if the foreigner is enrolled in a statutory health fund. In this case, no further examination is necessary. As a rule, family members are covered by the statutory healthcare insurance of the sponsor in Germany (family insurance). The healthcare insurance of their parents usually covers children.
The family’s subsistence must be secure in the long run. Therefore, the foreigners’ authority will have to gauge whether the foreigner’s subsistence is certain during the time of the intended stay. Even if the foreign sponsor does not touch basic or social security benefits at the time of the examination, the authority shall examine whether they are or would be entitled to such benefits once the family member joins them.
Suppose the foreigner has signed a temporary employment contract. In that case, the circumstances of the individual case will be taken into account, including the fact whether – as it is the rule in specific economic sectors – it is likely that the foreigner will sign new employment contracts with the same or with another employer or whether there is a risk of unemployment once the contract runs out.
In general, subsistence should be secured by the third-country nationals themselves. In exceptional cases, a third person may guarantee subsistence; however, this third person will have to meet strict requirements concerning their ability to do so.
When family members join a gainfully employed third-country national in Germany, the individual needs of the sponsor and the needs of the family members joining them will be calculated. This calculation of the needs of the persons living as a unit will be based on the regular benefits as set out in the Second Book of the German Social Code (SGB II in conjunction with SGB XII), which shall cover particular food, clothes, hygiene products, furniture, energy supply excluding heating and hot water and everyday personal needs. Daily personal needs include adequate participation in social and cultural life.
Regular benefits categories according to § 28 of the SGB XII in euro (since 1st Jan. 2019)
|Regular Benefits according to SGB XII from 1st Jan. 2016
||Amount in €
|Regular Benefits Category 1:
- One adult who is entitled to benefits
- and has their own household as a single adult or single parent
|Regular Benefits Category 2:
- For each of the two adults who are entitled to benefits and
- have a joint household as spouses or registered partners or live together in a marriage-like partnership
|Regular Benefits Category 3:
One adult who is entitled to benefits and has neither
- their own household
- nor lives together with their spouse, registered partner or similar partnership in a shared household.
|Regular Benefits Category 4:
- One youth who is entitled to benefits
- and aged between 14 and 18
|Regular Benefits Category 5:
- One child who is entitled to benefits
- and aged between 6 and 14
|Regular Benefits Category 6:
- One child who is entitled to benefits
- and aged up to 6