Spouse Reunification in Germany

German Immigration Lawyers

Spouse Reunification in Germany

German Immigration Lawyers

Marriage and family have an exceptionally high status in Germany due to the protection granted to them by the German constitution. German nationals and immigrants from EU states and third countries enjoy this constitutional protection. If one of the family members lives abroad, it is possible to reunite the family under certain conditions thanks to European law regulations. 

To enable our clients to reunite their families, the German law firm Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte offers legal assistance that is competent and committed. Our residence law lawyers clarify all open questions with the competent authorities and apply for the required residence permit for your family members so that your family will soon be united and you can fully concentrate on your core tasks. Please, do not hesitate to contact us directly for expert legal support.

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  • Application for the required residence permit
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Visa and Residence Permit

Although spousal reunification is primarily about obtaining a German residence title, the importance of the visa should not be underestimated. Section 5 II of the German Residence Act stipulates that entry into Germany must have taken place with the required visa for the person concerned to be granted a residence title – provided all other requirements are met. Entry with the necessary visa is thus a general requirement for issuance that can only be waived in very narrowly defined exceptional cases.

According to the European Freedom of Movement Act (FreizüG/EU), the most relevant exception concerns the entry requirements of EU citizens. They are allowed to travel to their spouse living in Germany and take up residence there without obtaining a visa or residence permit beforehand.

If, on the other hand, the joining spouse is not a Union citizen, they will need a visa to enter the country. The purpose of the visa (family reunification) should always be stated. The visa application is made at the German consulate or the German embassy of the country where the joining spouse has permanent residence. The joining spouse’s passport and marriage proof must be presented. Only after a visa has been issued is it possible to apply for a residence permit for the third-country national joining the spouse.

The officially stated processing time for visa issuing is 12 to 15 weeks. This period must be considered if you want to start your family reunification. Only after the visa has been issued the application for the residence permit can be submitted, which takes several weeks to process.

Requirements for the Reunification of Spouses

The general principle of family reunification is standardised in Section 27 (1) of the German Residence Act:

The temporary residence permit to enable foreign dependants to rejoin foreigners in the federal territory so that they can live together as a family (subsequent immigration of dependants) is granted and extended to protect marriage and the family in accordance with Article 6 of the Basic Law.

It is important to note that this does not result in any entitlement to grant a German residence permit. Instead, the conditions or grounds for exclusion regulated in Section 27 of the Residence Act apply in addition to the general requirements for granting a residence permit.

The general requirements for the granting of a residence permit are as follows:

  • Entry with the required visa (see above),
  • securing livelihood,
  • clarification of the identity and nationality of the joining spouse,
  • non-existence of an interest in deportation,
  • fulfilment of the passport obligation.

The requirements for family reunification in Germany depend, among other things, on the nationality of the family member already living in Germany. For example, Section 28 of the Residence Act regulates family reunification with German citizens, while Section 29 stipulates reunification with foreigners. More specific regulations for the subsequent immigration of a spouse to a third-country national living in Germany are standardised in Section 30 of the Residence Act. This stipulates that

  • both spouses have reached the age of 18,
  • the spouse joining has a basic knowledge of German,
  • the spouse who is already in Germany has a secure residence status (e.g., EU Blue Card, settlement permit, permanent residence permit – EU) and there is no interest in deporting them.

In exceptional cases, individual requirements may be waived. If all requirements are met, the residence permit is to be granted. In this case, the joining spouse can be given a residence permit.

Marriage Requirements

Marriage is of great relevance for family reunification in the form of spousal reunification. To obtain a residence title for family reunification, proof of marriage must be provided.

The marriage must be legally valid under German law. For this reason, a marriage does not entitle a person to join their spouse if

  • it was only concluded to enable the person joining them to reside in Germany (sham marriage),
  • there is the assumption that a person was coerced into the marriage,
  • more than two persons are married to each other at the same time (multiple marriage) or
  • the marriage was entered into purely religiously without being recognised by the state.

In principle, a formal marriage is not sufficient either. Family reunification requires a marriage where the spouses want to live in a community and feel responsible for each other.

Are you being falsely accused of a sham marriage? We will help you convince the authorities of the opposite. Contact us personally or use our online form. Our German family lawyers will do their utmost to protect your rights and interests.

In addition, the following must be considered concerning the marriage: If the marriage did not exist at the time when one of the spouses moved to Germany for the first time, a total of two years must pass during which the spouse holds a valid residence title to bring the spouse joining them to Germany. Accordingly, the spouse of an asylum seeker cannot join them.

Since same-sex marriages have been possible in Germany since 2017, the same conditions naturally apply to separate-sex and same-sex marriages. Furthermore, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in 2018 that national law should have no restrictions concerning a Union citizen’s right to freedom of movement. This entails the obligation of equal legal treatment of same-sex and heterosexual marriages concluded abroad regarding the free movement of spouses. Thus, the family reunification of a same-sex couple is to be recognised in all member states of the European Union, even if the marriage of a same-sex couple is not possible or prohibited in the respective country.

Immigration of a Same-Sex Partner

According to Section 27 (2) of the Residence Act, family reunification in the form of the reunification of a life partner does not differ from the reunification of spouses. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) also emphasises that the reunification of spouses naturally applies to same-sex civil partnerships.

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Practice Group: German Immigration Law

Practice Group:
German Immigration Law

Aykut Elseven

Lawyer | Managing Partner