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German Permanent Residence Permit: Legal Advice from German Lawyers

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    Unlimited Residence Permit in Germany

    Basically, a distinction must be made between a temporary and a permanent residence permit. While a residence permit in the form of an ICT (Intra-Corporate Transfer) Card, an EU Blue Card or similar limits the permission of a foreigner to stay in Germany to a specified period of time, the German permanent residence permit and the permit for permanent EU residence permit allow an unlimited stay in Germany. §§ 9 and 9a German Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz – AufenthG) standardise the latter residence titles and the requirements to be met in order to obtain such a title.

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    What is a German Permanent Residence Permit?

    The German permanent residence permit is an unlimited residence title granted to a foreigner to consolidate his or her residence in Germany. It allows them to live and work in Germany without restrictions. This residence title entitles them to both employment as an employee and self-employment. Additionally, you are granted Freedom of Movement, which allows you to enter and leave the country at any time and without the restrictions in place for other visas and residence permits.

    Requirements for a Permanent Residence Permit

    In principle, § 9 German Residence Act’s general requirements apply to the granting of a German permanent residence permit. Besides, some special provisions have priority for certain groups of persons and purposes of residence.

    General requirements according to § 9 German Residence Act

    An entitlement to granting a permanent residence permit exists if the requirements standardised in § 9(2) German Residence Act are fulfilled. These are described in detail below:

    Five-year Possession of a Residence Permit

    The foreigner must have been residing in Germany for five years and be entitled to do so. A legal residence title is therefore required. This can take the form of an ICT (Intra-Corporate Transfer) Card, an EU Blue Card or a visa, for example.

    For certain groups of persons, however, different special regulations apply concerning the duration of stay:

    • Holders of an EU Blue Card: The application for a German permanent residence permit is permitted after only 33 months in the case of highly qualified workers. Additionally, a further reduction of this period is possible. The permanent residence permit can be applied for after 21 months if the applicant also has sufficient knowledge of the German language (B1 level) (cf. § 18c (2) German Residence Act).
    • Foreigners with Civil Servant Status: If a foreigner has a civil servant status with a German employer, a German permanent residence permit can be applied for three years (§ 19c (4) German Residence Act).
    • Foreigners with a Self-Employed Activity in Germany: The application for a permanent residence permit is possible after three years according to § 21 (4) German Residence Act.
    • Graduates of a German Higher Education Institution: Here, it is possible to apply after just two years (cf. § 18c, (1) German Residence Act) if the graduate fulfils the other requirements specified in the standard.
    • Spouses of German citizens: According to § 28 (2) German Residence Act, the period of residence required to apply for a German permanent residence permit is reduced to three years. This also applies to parents of a minor unmarried German child and minor unmarried children of Germans.
    • Highly Qualified Specialists: Such persons have the possibility of obtaining a permanent residence title without a prior minimum stay (cf. § 18c para. 3 German R