Residence Permits for Individuals with "Duldung"

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Update 01.01.2023

From tolerated stay to an actual residence permit

Many people live in Germany with "Duldung" for years. But those with "Duldung" who meet specific requirements can also obtain a residence permit. If you do not meet all the conditions, you can seek advice from a counselling centre. You will find counselling centres nearby on our Local Information page. Enter the name of the city you live and search for asylum, residence or legal counselling centres.

Please note: The months or years during which you have a "Duldung für Personen mit ungeklärter Identität" or "Duldung Light" (according to §60b of the Residence Act) are not counted as your pre-“Duldung” period. That means they don't count when you are required to be in Germany for a certain number of years to qualify for a certain type of residence permit. You can learn more in our chapter "Duldung Light".

UPDATE: A new law known as “Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht” has been recently introduced: It is intended to enable people with a “Duldung” to obtain a permanent right to stay. According to the law, the time you stayed in Germany with a "Duldung light" is also counted as your pre-“Duldung” period. You can read more about it in the section “Residence permit according to ‘Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht’ (§104c Residence Act)” below.

What options do I have?

Residence permit for humanitarian reasons (§25 par. 5 Residence Act)

You may be able to obtain a residence permit for humanitarian reasons (according to § 25 par. 5 Asylum Act), when it is not possible for you to return to your country for an extended period, for instance, due to your incapacity to travel or as a result of your country's refusal to issue you a passport.

However, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have lived in Germany with a "Duldung" according to §60a Residence Act.
  • You must have lived in Germany with a "Duldung" for at least 18 months. If you have been here for less than 18 months, the Immigration Office can still consider issuing you a residence permit - the duration of your stay in Germany and the extent to which you have managed to integrate yourself into the German job market play a determining role in their decision.
  • You cannot return to your home country because you are incapable of travelling or unable to acquire a passport from your home country's embassy, and not allowed to travel to your home country without a passport.
  • You must be able to speak German at level A2. You can prove your proficiency, for instance, by presenting a language certificate or a school diploma, vocational training certificate or university degree.
  • Your livelihood must be predominantly secured by your own income, which means, in principle, you cannot receive financial aid from the government. However, the Immigration Office can refrain from this condition if they assume that you can personally secure your livelihood in the future.
  • If you have children, they must attend school.
  • You must be committed to Germany's free democratic constitution and have basic knowledge regarding the laws and regulations which are usually discussed in the Orientation Course. The orientation course is, in fact, a part of the Integration Course. However, you can also just take the "Living in Germany" test. If you are studying to obtain a German school-leaving certificate, such a test is not necessary.
  • You must not have prevented your deportation by withholding information or lack of cooperation.
  • You must not have been convicted of any crimes.
  • You must have a passport, passport substitute or a foreigner's travel document ("Reiseausweis für Ausländer") or prove that you have tried to acquire a passport or passport substitute, but you did not manage to obtain one.

To learn more about §25 paragraph 5 Residence Act (residence permit for humanitarian reasons) read the information sheet provided by the Saxony-Anhalt's Refugee Council (in German).

When it comes to extending your residence permit, the Immigration Office checks whether it is possible for you to leave Germany or be deported. If your departure or deportation is feasible, your residence permit may not be renewed, and you may be asked to leave Germany. If this is the case, contact a counselling centre or a lawyer immediately. You can find counselling centres nearby on our Local Information page. Enter the name of the city where you live and search for asylum, residence or legal counselling centres.

Residence permit for well-integrated adults (§25b Residence act)

You can obtain a residence permit for sustainable integration (§25b Residence Act) if you have been in Germany for long enough and are well integrated here. The residence permit is valid for 3 years and can be extended.

Important: Since January 2023, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • You have a "Duldung" according to §60a Residence Act, a residence permit ("Aufenthaltserlaubnis”), a temporary stay permit (“Aufenthaltsgestattung ”) or the so-called “Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht” (according to §104c Residence Act). Learn more about the latter in our chapter “Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht”.
  • You have been in Germany uninterruptedly for at least 6 years and have had some type of residence permit (“Aufenthaltsgestattung”, “Duldung, etc.) for all these years. If you have minor children, you must have been in Germany for at least 4 years. Please note: If you had a so-called “Beschäftigungsduldung” for 30 months, you do not have to meet this requirement.
  • You speak German at level A2. You can prove your German language skills with a language certificate or a school, vocational training certificate or university degree.
  • If you have children, they must attend school.
  • Your livelihood must be secured primarily through your own income. This means, in principle, that you are not allowed to receive any financial support from the state. However, the immigration authorities can waive this requirement if they assume that your livelihood will be secure in the near future.
  • You must commit to the free democratic basic order and demonstrate the relevant basic knowledge. You usually learn about it in the Orientation Course. The Orientation Course is part of the Integration Course. However, you can also take the "Living in Germany" exam instead. If you have a German school-leaving certificate, the exam is not necessary.
  • You must not have prevented your deportation through deception or lack of cooperation.
  • You must not have any felony convictions.
  • You must have a passport or a passport substitute or a so-called foreigner's travel document, or prove that you have applied for a passport or a passport substitute but failed to acquire one.

Please note: If your spouse and children live with you, they can obtain a residence permit according to §25b Residence Act, even if they have not lived in Germany for 6 years. However, your family must meet the other conditions mentioned above.

To learn more about §25b Residence Act (residence permit for sustainable integration) read the information sheet provided by the Saxony-Anhalt's Refugee Council (in German).

Residence permits for well-integrated adolescents and young adults (§25a Residence Act)

Young individuals between 14 and 27 who have had a “Duldung” for 12 months can apply for and obtain a residence permit for well-integrated adolescents and young adults (§25a Residence Act) if they have been in Germany long enough and are well-integrated into the German society. The residence permit is valid for 3 years and can be extended.

Important: Since January 2023, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • You are between 14 and 27 years old 
  • You have been in Germany continuously for at least 3 years.
  • You have a “Duldung” according to §60a Residence Act, a residence permit or a temporary stay permit (“Aufenthaltsgestattung”).
  • When you submit the application, you have either been living with a “Duldung” for 12 months OR have the so-called “Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht” (§104c Residence Act).
  • You have been successfully attending school for at least 3 years, i.e., you are promoted to the next higher class every year or you already have a German school or vocational school certificate.
  • There must be no concrete evidence that you do not commit to the free democratic basic order. This would be the case, for example, if you are active in an extremist or terrorist organisation.
  • The immigration authorities must assume that you will continue to integrate well into German society, e.g., after you graduate from school, you will do an apprenticeship or study or find a job.
  • You must not have any felony convictions.
  • You must have a passport or passport substitute, or a so-called foreigner's travel document, or show that you have applied for a passport or passport substitute but were not able to acquire one.
  • You must apply for a residence permit according to §25a Residence Act before your 27th birthday.

According to 25a Residence Act, the parents of a minor (under 18) person who receives this type of residence permit may also apply for a residence permit if the young individual has not prevented his/her deportation by deception or lack of cooperation, has not committed any offences and is not dependent on state benefits for a living. The same applies to the spouse of a young adult or adolescent who obtain such residence permit.

To learn more about §25a Residence Act (residence permit for well-integrated youngsters and adolescents) read the information sheet provided by the Saxony-Anhalt's Refugee Council (in German).

Residence permit for qualified individuals with a "Duldung" (§18a Residence Act)

You can apply for a residence permit for qualified individuals for the purpose of employment (§18a Residence Act) if one of the following scenarios apply to you, and you can fulfil the additional requirements listed below:

  • You have had a tolerated stay for vocational training ("Ausbildungsduldung"), completed your training and then found a job. OR:
  • You have a job offer which requires vocational training or university education. OR:
  • You have completed your vocational training or university education in Germany. OR:
  • You have a foreign university degree which is recognised here and have been practising qualified work in Germany for at least two years. OR:
  • You have been working as a skilled worker ("Fachkraft") in Germany for at least three years and have been earning a living mainly through your income for at least one year.

In addition, you must fulfil the following conditions in all five cases mentioned above:

  • The Federal Employment Agency must approve your application. In such cases, however, there will not carry out a priority check ("Vorrangprüfung").
  • You must have enough living space.
  • You must be able to speak German at B1 level.
  • You must not have any ties to terrorist or extremist organisations.
  • You must not have committed any major crimes.
  • Your livelihood must be secured mainly through your income.
  • You must not have prevented your deportation by deception or lack of cooperation.
Residence permit according to “Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht” (§104c Residence Act)

The new law known as “Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht(§104c Residence Act) came into force on December 31, 2022. It grants people with a “Duldung” a residence permit for 18 months. You can apply for it if you have been staying in Germany with a "Duldung", temporary stay permit (“Aufenthaltsgestattung”) or residence permit("Aufenthaltserlaubnis”) for at least five years without interruption by October 31, 2022. In addition, you must not have committed a criminal offence and must commit to the German constitution. During these 18 months, you should endeavour to meet the requirements for a permanent right of residence. For more information, see our chapter “Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht”.

Where and how can I apply for a residence permit?

You must apply for a residence permit at the Immigration Office responsible for you. You can ask them about the appropriate forms you need to fill and inquire if you should make the application in writing, or you need an appointment. In principle, you should be able to submit the application in writing. Send the completed form and copies of your documents (language certificates, employment contract, vocational training contract, etc.) to your immigration office. In case you need an appointment: make an appointment and bring along all your documents and the filled-out form. You can find your Immigration Office at bamf.de.

Where can I find advice and support?

A counselling centre or law firm can inform you about your options- and help you with your application for a residence permit. Please note that services of law firms can be quite costly. But you can find counselling centres nearby on our Local Information page. Enter the name of your city and search for asylum, residence or legal counselling centres in your area.

Important

If you meet almost all the requirements for a specific residence permit for tolerated persons (people with “Duldung”) while missing only one or two, you should seek advice from a counselling centre or a lawyer: under certain conditions, there may still be some ways to obtain the residence permit.

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