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Germany

Conditions

If you legally reside in Germany, you can apply to reunite with the following family members:

  • your spouse of at least 18 years of age or the same-sex partner in a registered partnership;
  • children under 16 years;
  • children up to 18 years under certain conditions;
  • children over 18 years and other family members in cases of extraordinary hardship.

Your family members must obtain:

  • a visa; and
  • a residence permit.

Spouses and partners must also fulfil certain integration conditions.
They will not need a visa if they are from Andorra, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea or the USA.
Reuniting with your spouse/partner
Your spouse shall be entitled to a residence permit if you hold one of the following permits:

  • a permanent residence permit (settlement permit or EC long-term resident status);
  • a temporary permit for at least two years; or
  • a temporary permit at the time of the marriage where the duration of stay is expected to be longer than one year.

Reuniting with your children

  • Children can join both their parents until they reach the age of 16 years.
  • Children up to 18 years are allowed to join their parents provided that they enter together with their parents.
  • Children up to 18 years old may join if they meet the integration conditions, proven by either a good command of German or an ability to integrate on the basis of child education or their way of life.

Procedures

Where and how to apply

Family reunification application

Applications for family reunification must be submitted to the embassy or consulate in your country of origin or permanent residence.

Visa

Your family members must obtain a visa from the embassy or consulate of their country of origin or of permanent residence. The rules of the Residence Act governing the issue of residence permits are applicable.

Integration conditions

Your spouse or partner must fulfil certain integration conditions before entry. He or she must prove, as a general rule, the ability to communicate in everyday situations using basic German.

Residence permit

Your family members must obtain a residence permit after they arrive in Germany from your local Foreigners Authority.

Nationals of Australia, Andorra, Brazil, Canada, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, South Korea or the USA who do not need to apply for a visa are exempt from the language requirement.

Documents required

You must prove sufficient financial resources and accommodation. Your spouse or same-sex partner must prove:

  • a basic level of German (if necessary);
  • sufficient financial resources not to become a burden on public funds; and
  • health insurance.
Duration of validity of permits

A residence permit for family reunification purposes is granted, at maximum, for the period of validity of your residence permit.

Appeals

Decisions related to residence permits can be challenged before the local administrative courts.
Decisions related to visa refusals can be examined by the administrative court in Berlin. The local court is only competent if you are already in Germany.

Further information

More on reuniting with your family in Germany

Rights

Access to employmentYour family members who hold a residence permit can work if you are also entitled to work.
Permanent residence German law makes a distinction between a settlement permit and the EC long-term residence permit.
Settlement permit
To obtain a settlement permit, the family member must prove the following:
  • residence for at least five years on the German territory with permit;
  • sufficient resources to support him/herself and dependants;
  • health insurance;
  • adequate housing/accommodation;
  • in general, 60 months social security contributions (or equivalent contributions to a private scheme);
  • s/he has the right to work or to be self-employed;
  • sufficient knowledge of the German language and basic civic knowledge.

An application may be rejected if the person threatens public policy or public security.
More on settlement permits

EC long-term residence
To obtain an EC long-term resident status, the family member must provide the following:
  • residence on the German territory for five years with a residence title;
  • stable, regular and sufficient financial means;
  • adequate housing/accommodation;
  • sufficient knowledge of the German language, basic civic knowledge;
  • fulfilment of tax obligations.

An application may be rejected if the person threatens public policy or public security.

ChildrenChildren are granted a permanent residence permit at the age of 16 years if they have been in possession of a temporary residence permit for at least five years.
The same applies to children who reach 18 years old, provided they held a residence permit for at least five years, have sufficient command of the German language and have sufficient financial means or are attending a school or vocational training course.