Obtaining the Permanent Residence in Germany

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Written By Alex

A good friend from India asked me to provide him with a couple of information regarding permanent residence in Germany. He used to work a couple of years across Europe in several countries and then returned to India. When we first met, this was the time, and our friendship has lasted ever since.

Now he would like to apply for a job in Germany and bring his family with him. Since he liked living and working in Germany a lot, he’d like to settle Germany for a more extended period. Maybe even forever.

As I’ve been living for many years in Germany, I put together some information about this topic for him. And this is how this article about permanent residence was born.

Topics in this article

When do you need permanent residence in Germany? >>
What are the benefits of the permanent residence? >>
Primary permanent residence requirements >>
How to apply for a permanent settlement permit in Germany? >>
What does it cost to apply for permanent residence? >>
Valid German words (complicated, but very useful) >>

When do you need permanent residence in Germany?

There is a difference between a permanent residence and a residence visa. You can apply for permanent residence after approximately eight years.

A regular residence visa is required if you intend to stay in Germany for more than 90 days. Or if you plan to work or study in Germany.

I was able to find out that the timeframe in which you can apply for permanent residence depends on:

  • where you are coming from
  • and what your profession is.

Americans, for example, can apply for a permanent residency nowadays after four years, while others need to wait longer.

You also need to get a permanent residence permit for Germany if you are willing to work.

What are the benefits of permanent residence?

Daueraufenhalt in Deutschland Permanent residence in Germany

The permanent settlement permit for Germany does have a few advantages. With the so-called “Niederlassungserlaubnis” or settlement permit, you can work wherever you want in Germany.

And travel in and out of the country whenever you need.

First, they will get a temporary residence permit. After a few years, they can also apply for a permanent residence permit. The other significant advantage is that your children and spouse can all join you.

In this particular situation of my friend from India, his wife would also study at a German university. None of them would have to worry about visiting friends and family back in India if they would like to. If he considers becoming a German citizen one day, he needs to wait an additional eight years.

What types of permanent residence permits are there?

The bigger question is whether my friend qualifies for the permanent residence permit? As he is a highly-skilled worker (Software Developer), his best option would be to apply for an EU Blue Card – but more on that later.

Drittstaatsangehörige Third country nationals in Germany

Permanent residence visa for refugees

Obtaining a permanent residence in Germany as a refugee can be pretty challenging as there are three different options. You can be recognized as:

  • person entitled to asylum
  • as a refugee
  • or as a person entitled to subsidiary protection

Whoever flees from their own country can request asylum in Germany at the border.

Refugees get a temporary “Aufenthaltserlaubnis” for Germany from the authorities for three years. The residence permit for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection or persons with a national ban on deportation is usually valid for one year. After this time, you must have it extended.

If you can find a job in Germany in a profession with a lack of workforce, you may be eligible to apply for a temporary residence visa. After a few years, the soonest after four years of consistent employment, you can apply for a permanent residency.

Permanent settlement allowance for qualified, skilled workers

Fachkräfte Skilled workers in German

Qualified skilled workers can obtain a permanent settlement allowance for Germany at four, up to eight years. This highly depends on whether you work in a high-demand profession, but very few Germans work in the same profession.

A typical example for qualified, skilled workers is nurses or geriatric nurses. After up to eight years, they can apply for a permanent residence visa and bring their kids and spouse to Germany.

EU Blue Card holders and their residence status

The EU Blue Card is a unique program for qualified IT or STEM employees seeking a job in any EU country.

It’s most likely that you will be able to get a Blue Card.

And this if you work as an IT professional or someone who has a background in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.

If you maintain your job for four years, you can apply for permanent residency in Germany.

In the case you have sufficient knowledge of German, you can get your permanent settlement permit after 21 months.

And if you can keep your job, you can apply for your permanent residency after 33 months.

After that time, you can bring your spouse and kids into the country without working or studying in Germany if you can support them. My friend from India is looking especially into the EU Blue Card as it’s kind of the fast-track to a permanent residence.

Temporary residence visa

The temporary residence visa or residence permit is for all who work or study in Germany for less than approximately four years. There are three different main reasons to apply for a residence permit in Germany that I’d like to list below.

Job Seeker Visa

A job seeker visa is sometimes an easy entry for anyone seeking employment in Germany. It’s sometimes easier not to search from your country of origin but Germany. As soon as you can find a job, you can apply for a permanent residency in Germany.

If you are approved by the Federal Employment Agency or “Arbeitsagentur” for your permanent residency status, you can stay for as long as you have active employment in Germany.

Student Visa

Student visas are usually given for students who either plan to complete an undergraduate, graduate, or vocational degree (LINK TO: article about a vocational school in Germany) in Germany. Their permit is bound to the length of their program.

In addition to studying in Germany, they can work full time for 120 throughout the year or half time for 240 days. Even work-study positions would be allowed. If you finish your studies in Germany, you could apply for an extension of your current visa status for another 18 months to find a job in Germany.

Marriage Purposes

There is no specific visa for marrying a German citizen who has a permanent residence permit in Germany. You will be allowed to stay in the country, but you still need to apply for a residence permit. You will need to get your permit to stay in the country for family union purposes. Germany is very liberal when it comes to same-sex couples. They are also accepted and eligible to obtain residence permits after getting married.

Daueraufenhaltserlaubnis EU Permanent residence Germany

Primary permanent residence requirements

There are, of course, some requirements that you have to fulfill to get a permanent residence status in Germany. Those are:

  • It would be best if you had a valid passport from your country of origin
  • You can’t have any criminal record
  • Your proficiency in German should be at least at a proven B1 level
  • You need to provide a recent biometric photo
  • It would help if you had German health insurance (LINK TO: an article about health insurance)
  • Sometimes it’s required that you pass a health check that proves you are healthy enough to study or work in Germany
  • You need to be able to support yourself (and your family in case they are already in Germany or would like to come soon)
  • If you are joining your spouse in Germany, you will need to show translated proof of your marriage (usually an official marriage certificate)

How to apply for a permanent settlement permit in Germany?

Niederlassungserlaubnis Settlement permit in German

Talking about my friend from India, I’d recommend that he take the following steps (according to German authorities) to apply for a permanent settlement permit in Germany.

Step 1 – preparing the documents

The first step is to get all your documents ready mentioned above that support your application

Step 2 – visiting the immigration office

The “Ausländerbehörde” or immigration office is the first place to go to. Make an appointment there – it usually is the same place where you initially applied for your temporary residence permit years ago.

Step 3 – fill out the application form

They will provide you with the “Antrag auf Erteilung der Niederlassungserlaubnis“ for Germany. The application form needs to be filled out correctly.

Step 4 – have another appointment at “Ausländerbehörde”

During your second appointment at the local immigration office, you need to show them all documents and have an interview. If you are applying for a permanent residence as the spouse of a German citizen, they must come to the interview with you.

Documents for applying

In addition to the documents listed above, you need to bring with you:

  • A completed and signed application form for your permanent residency, the “Antrag auf Erteilung der Niederlassungserlaubnis”
  • Proof of social security contributions and proof for your income and financial stability. As an employee, showing them your bank statements is fine. As a freelancer, or in case you are self-employed, you need to show your tax returns from the previous years
  • If you are employed, show them your salary statements from the last six months alongside your certificate of employment (no older than 14 days). And the certification for your German pension insurance. You also have to show them your tax clearance certificate from the tax office, the “Finanzamt.”
  • Proof of having your primary residency in Germany that should consist of the “Meldebestätigung” or certification of address registration and a rental agreement from your landlord, the so-called “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung.”
  • Professional license in case you are considered a highly skilled worker

Does my Indian friend need additional documents as an employee?

As an employee from a Non-EU country, a so-called “Drittstaat” he has to show his employment contract alongside his salary statements from the past six months.

The additional documents listed above are also required according to the BAMF, the “Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge”.

For his specific profession as a developer, there is a “beschleunigtes Fachkräfteverfahren” that he can apply for, which speeds up his application process. You can find more information about the “Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz” here.

What does it cost to apply for permanent residence?

The costs vary depending on your professional circumstances. The fee for an application for highly-qualified people or workers is 147 Euros, self-employed workers need to pay 124 Euros, and the general settlement permit is usually at 113 Euros.

Valid German words (complicated, but very useful)

Here is a list of valid German words that you might need. They could be helpful during your application process for permanent residence.

  • Application for permanent residency = „Antrag auf Erteilung der Niederlassungserlaubnis“
  • Accelerated skilled worker procedure = „Beschleunigtes Fachkräfteverfahren“
  • Skilled Worker Immigration Act or Skilled Labor Immigration Act = “Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz.”
  • Freelancer/Freelance work = „Freiberufler / Freiberufliche Tätigkeit“
  • Self-employment = „Selbstständigkeit“
  • Proof of residence = „Wohnungsgeberbestätigung“
  • Rental Agreement = „Mietvertrag“
  • Tax clearance document = „Steuererklärung“
  • Employment contract = „Anstellungsvertrag“ or „Arbeitsvertrag“
  • Registration certificate = „Anmeldungsbestätigung”


For my friend from India, the process of getting a work permit and, more importantly, a permanent residency in Germany will most likely be easy. In my opinion, as a professional IT worker, he should choose the EU Blue Card. This way to obtain a permanent settlement permit in Germany would allow him to reunite with his wife and children, most likely within two years.

I hope I was able to provide you with enough information if you ever need to apply for permanent residence in Germany.

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German official information sources

BAMF – Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge

Berlin – Landesamt für Einwanderung