Should a person commit an action that ends up on their criminal record it can follow them for a long time. Such an action can have a serious impact on what they can and cannot do. Traveling to another country, never mind moving to one, can of course be majorly impacted by having a criminal record. In this article we will explore how having a criminal record affects a person’s chances of immigrating to Germany.

The information from this article is for generalized circumstances and therefore, should one wish to avail of more specialized information they should contact our firm directly. Our contact details are supplied below this article.

If you have a particular issue or legal question concerning German Immigration Law, you can contact our law office anytime. Our lawyers for German Immigration Law can be reached by phone, email and also provide video conferencing options. For more legal information, please visit our Immigration Information Germany Center.

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Short Visits: Minor Offences on a Criminal Record

In Germany there is a distinction drawn between more minor and serious offences when it comes to a person’s criminal record. In this regard, the conditions for entering Germany are not as strict as they are for some other countries. Generally, Germany does not prevent those with minor offences from entering the country – especially when there has been a time gap between when the offence took place. in contrast, there is of course a difference when it comes to more serious offences – particularly those to do with violence and drugs. Consequently, an application for a Schengen Visa can be turned down on the basis of a person’s criminal record.

Should a person enter Germany from a country with a visa-free agreement, they will rarely be checked at borders and if they are coming for a holiday it is less likely that they will be asked. New checks are planned for those entering the Schengen Zone but these actions are being designed with terrorist suspects in mind. It is worth bearing in mind that this visit is for those that last less than 90 days in duration (90 days in a 180 day period) so should the person seek to stay longer they will then need to avail of some kind of visa or residence permit. Options regarding residence permits will be outlined below.


Short Visits: Serious Offences on a Criminal Record

When it comes to more serious offences on a criminal record, Germany is much stricter as to who it allows in. Should a person, for example, have served three years or more in prison for a public order offence or had a minimum of two years in prison for drug offences they are likely not to be granted permission to come to the Schengen Area in the first place.

Should a person have somehow entered Germany with such offences (as well as human trafficking) on their record the state authorities reserve the right to deport them immediately. If a person has more serious offences listed on their criminal record it is advisable for them to seek assistance from a qualified professional. A legal professional will be able to look into more detail at the individual circumstances of the applicant’s case.


Police Information Sharing in the EU

Should a person have a criminal conviction due to actions committed in Europe they should be aware that the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) exists to ensure that police forces are aware of the criminal records of those entering a jurisdiction. This is aimed at ensuring those with convictions in one EU country cannot move to another to avoid prosecution.

Noteworthy, is that as it refers to crimes within the boundaries of the EU, the authorities also are wary when it comes to more minor crimes committed. It is worth further noting that Germany is very strict when it comes to applicants lying about their criminal record. Should a person attempt to lie on this front it increases their chances of not being allowed into the country.


The German Residency Act §§ 53 – 54

§§ 53-54 German Residency Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) provides the basis for when having a criminal record can prevent a person’s successful residency permit application to Germany. For major crimes such as those involving violence, threats of violence and sexual offences as well as those involving terrorist activities, this is deemed to be a serious issue of concern. These are deemed enough of a concern to not allow the applicant to come to Germany or to gain a residence permit.


Residency in Germany with a Criminal Record

A residence permit allows a person to stay in Germany for a longer period of time if they are not a German or European Union citizen. For example if a person aims to come to Germany to study, work or look for a job they will require a form of residence permit. Residence visas can take several forms such as the the EU Blue Card, the residence permit for entrepreneurs and the ICT Card. Although coming to Germany can be more flexible when one has a criminal record (in cases of minor offences) the situation can be different for residence permits. Having a criminal record is listed as a specific cause not to give a person a residence permit.

When seeking a residence permit one has to register their German address with the local registry office. This process involves showing passports and will also involve background checks. Should a person change address in Germany they will also have to go through this process of registering with the local registry office. Here it can be once again seen that trying to hide issues concerning criminal convictions is a dangerous game.

Should you have committed a minor offence at home, in the EU or in Germany specifically it is advisable that you make contact with one of our legal team so as to evaluate your circumstances. Our immigration lawyers will examine the nature of the offence and establish your next move together. On this front, knowing the offence itself, when it was committed and what sanction was ordered will be vital. The reason for your desire to move to Germany will also be taken into account. Should it be for familial reasons – as a spouse or parent to a German citizen for example – the immigration authorities may be more willing to provide leniency. Once again such decisions are based on the facts of the case.

For more serious offences it is also strongly advisable to avail of legal assistance. Without legal representation your chances of gaining a German residence permit are greatly reduced. Our lawyers will discuss the nature of the offences and the circumstances around them before providing their advice. Contact our firm today using the information below.


Immigration Lawyers in Germany

Schlun & Elseven Lawyers is experienced, reliable and knowledgeable when it comes to issues around immigration law. Our team provides advice to our clients on numerous immigration law and residency issues from questions concerning EU Blue Cards to availing of German citizenship. Our legal team also has experience of issues in the field of criminal law and can bring that into use when working with clients. This is especially the case in issues such as the impact of a criminal records on immigration.

As a multidisciplined and multilingual legal firm, we value clear and concise communication. In order to ensure that we do not get lost in translation with our clients, our firm offers services in English as well as German. From our offices in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Aachen, as well as our meeting rooms in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich, we have worked with clients from all over the world.

If you wish to find out more information for our services in the field of immigration to Germany with a criminal record, immigration generally or any other legal issue make sure to contact our firm directly. Our contact details are supplied below this article.

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