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German Permanent Residence Permit

Are you already in possession of a German residence permit and have now decided to settle permanently in Germany? In the following article, you will find out which requirements must be fulfilled in relation to this, who is entitled to a permanent residence permit in Germany and what you should consider. Our team of lawyers at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte advises and represents both private individuals and companies in all questions and problems that may arise in connection with German immigration law and the right of residence.

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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.

Do you have questions about the permit for a permanent EU residence permit? We will be happy to help and advise you. Contact us for more information.

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 Residence Act).
  • Foreigners with a residence permit according to § 25 (1 or 2) German Residence Act: This residence permit is based on humanitarian grounds. Here, a required residence period of three years applies if the further requirements of § 26 par. 3 German Residence Act are met.

It should be noted that each of the above-mentioned cases, in turn, requires some more specific prerequisites. These will be explained in more detail later on.

Securing a Livelihood

The foreigner must secure their livelihood either from their own means or from third parties that are not public funds to apply for a German permanent residence permit. However, special regulations for certain groups of persons also apply here under certain conditions. These include, among others:

  • Students
  • researchers
  • dependants
  • the groups of persons named in § 28(1) German Residence Act
  • people with physical, mental or psychological illnesses.

Are you wondering which criteria the competent authority will use to determine whether you have the necessary means of subsistence? We will be happy to assist you and explain how the authorities make their calculations and which funds are included or omitted. Contact us personally by phone, write us an e-mail or use our online form.

Payment of Pension Insurance Contributions

Required is either

  • the payment of at least 60 compulsory or voluntary contributions to the statutory pension insurance scheme or
  • proof of expenses for a claim to comparable benefits from an insurance or pension institution or an insurance company.

Here, too, special regulations apply to certain groups of persons. Contact our immigration law team for more information.

No Conflicting Reasons of Public Safety or Order

Conflicting reasons for public safety and order are, for example:

  • Violations of the legal system, in particular criminal laws.
  • Threats to state security due to extremist and terrorist activities, e.g. participation in or support of a terrorist organisation.

The immigration authorities weigh the private interests of the foreigner against the public interests. In doing so, it takes various aspects into account:

  • The seriousness or nature of the breach of public security or order.
  • The danger posed by the foreigner.
  • The length of the previous residence.
  • The existence of ties in the federal territory
  • Employment permit

This requirement only applies to employees. An employee is anyone who exercises an occupation within the meaning of § 2 (2) German Residence Act.

Special regulations apply here for certain groups of persons. If you are wondering whether you belong to one of these groups of persons, please feel free to contact us. We will support you in all matters concerning the German immigration law, German permanent residence permits and the right of residence in Germany.

Permanent Permission to Practise a Profession

Special permits are required for certain professions. A foreigner who wishes to exercise this profession as a self-employed or employed person must have the required permit. Such professions are, for example:

  • Health professions: medical practitioners, psychotherapists, pharmacists,
  • lawyers,
  • artisans,
  • retail and wholesale trade,
  • catering industry,
  • bank and financial service providers

As a rule, the permit must be valid for an unlimited period of time.

Sufficient Knowledge of the German language

Knowledge of the German language at level B1 CEFR is required. However, an exception applies to foreigners with a residence permit according to § 25, (1) (2) German Residence Act, and holders of an EU Blue Card.

As a rule, the required language skills are proven if the foreigner has:

  • acquired the “Zertifikat Deutsch” or the “Deutsch-Test für Zuwanderer” in accordance with § 17(1) no. 1 IntV,
  • successfully attended a German-language school for four years,
  • acquired a lower secondary school leaving certificate or at least an equivalent German school leaving certificate,
  • been transferred to the tenth grade of a German-language secondary school (Realschule, Gymnasium or Gesamtschule), or
  • completed a course of study at a German-language university or university of applied sciences or German vocational training.

If the certificates required as proof are not available, a language test can be taken. The foreigners’ authority can also convince itself of the foreigner’s language skills in a personal interview.

There are also groups of persons for whom no proof of language proficiency is required under certain conditions. These include, for example, former Germans who had been habitually resident in the Federal territory as Germans for five years at the time of losing their citizenship (cf. § 38 (1) no. 1 German Residence Act).

Evidence of Basic Knowledge of the Legal and Social Order and Living Conditions in Germany

Additionally, the applicant must be familiar with the basic principles of the constitutional state of Germany when applying for a German permanent residence permit. Exceptions also apply here. Proof of this basic knowledge must be provided when other requirements are met, e.g. not in the case of underage children, former Germans or foreigners with a proven physical, mental or psychological illness.

Sufficient Living Space

Another consideration that will be considered when applying for a German permanent residence permit is whether there is sufficient living space for the applicant and his/her family members living with him/her in a domestic community. This is the case if:

  • ten square metres of living space are available for each family member under six years of age,
  • twelve square metres are available for each family member over six years of age
  • and adjoining rooms (kitchen, bathroom, toilet) can be shared to a reasonable extent.

Children up to the age of two are not counted in calculating the living space sufficient for family accommodation. A shortfall of about ten per cent in the size of the flat is not harmful.


Requirements for Granting Permanent Residence Permits according to § 5 German Residence Act

In addition to the general requirements of § 9(2) German Residence Act, the general requirements for granting residence under § 5 German Residence Act must also be met:

  • Clarification of identity or, if applicable, nationality,
  • no interest in deportation,
  • fulfilment of the passport obligation according to § 3 German Residence Act,
  • securing of livelihood,
  • entry with a visa.

Special Regulations for Certain Groups of Persons

As you have already noticed, special regulations often apply to certain groups of persons. In order to give you an overview of these groups, we will now enumerate them:

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