Residence Permits for Individuals with "Duldung"

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Update 04.08.2022

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, for instance, the Refugee Council in your state.

Please note: The months or years during which you have a "Duldung for persons with no identification document" (according to §60b of the Residence Act) are not counted as a pre-“Duldung” period. That means you can't count them 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" for people with "Unclear Identities" (Duldung Light).

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 search for a lawyer or counselling centre, namely at Pro Asyl.

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 a long time and are well integrated here.

To do so, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have a “Duldung” according to the §60a Residence Act.
  • You must have been in Germany for at least eight years without interruption and have been having a form of legal residence, such as a temporary residence document ("Aufethaltsgestattung"), a tolerated stay permit ("Duldung"), etc. during the period. If you have underage children, six years of residence in Germany will suffice. Please note: If you have been having a “Beschäftigungsduldung” for 30 months, you do not need to fulfil this requirement.
  • You have to be able to speak German at A2 level. You can prove your proficiency by introducing a certificate or a document which shows you have successfully finished school, vocational training or university in Germany.
  • If you have children, they must attend school regularly.
  • Your livelihood must be secured primarily by your income, i.e. in principle, you are not allowed to receive financial aid from the state. However, the Immigration Office can refrain from this requirement if it is assumed that your livelihood will be secured through your gainful occupation in the future.
  • You must acknowledge the liberal democratic constitutional structure and have a basic knowledge of it. The newcomers usually learn about this topic in the orientation course, which is a part of the integration course. However, you can also just take the "Living in Germany" exam. If you are studying to obtain a German school-leaving certificate, the exam is not necessary.
  • You must not have prevented your deportation by deception 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 have not been issued one.

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 permit for well-integrated youth and adolescent (§25a Residence Act)

Adolescents up to the age of 21 can apply for and obtain a residence permit for well-integrated youth and adolescents (§25a Residence Act) if they have been in Germany long enough and are well-integrated into the German society. In principle, the following requirements must be fulfilled:

  • The person must have a “Duldung” according to the §60a Residence Act.
  • The person must have been in Germany for at least four years without interruptions.
  • The person must attend school regularly and be able to successfully finish each educational year to attend the next grade the year after. Alternatively, he or she must already have a school-leaving certificate or vocational training diploma.
  • There should not exist any evidence which indicate the young individual does not acknowledge the liberal democratic constitution. For instance, the person must not be active in any extremist or terrorist organisation.
  • The Immigration Office should believe that the young individual will continue to integrate further into the German society, e.g. he or she will start a vocational training programme or study in a university or start to work after graduating from the school.
  • The young individual must apply for the residence permit before he or she reaches the age of 21.
  • 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.
  • You must have applied for a residence permit (according to §25a of the Residence Act) before you reach 21 years old.

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 spouses of young persons or adolescents who obtain such a 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.
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. You can find specialised counselling centres, for instance, on the Pro Asyl website or the Refugee Council in your state. To find specialised lawyers, you can, for example, check www.rechtsberaterkonferenz.de.

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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