"Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht"

Update 01.02.2023

Can the new law help me obtain a residence permit?

The new "Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht" (roughly: Opportunity Residence Act) stipulated in §104c Residence Act has come into force on 31 December 2022. It stipulates issuing a residence permit for 18 months to people who have been in Germany for five years with a "Duldung" (Tolerated Stay Permit) or "Aufenthaltsgesstattung" (Temporary Residence Permit), have not committed a criminal offence and profess the German constitution. During these 18 months, the person should try to meet the requirements for a permanent right to stay, in particular, per § 25a and 25b Residence Act. If they fail, they will be issued a "Duldung" again.

Important

If you are in Germany with a tolerated stay permit or “Duldung”, you should seek advice whether a residence permit under §25a or §25b of the Residence Act could also be an option for you. In order to receive this humanitarian right to stay, you must meet certain requirements. You can learn about these requirements in our chapter "Residence rights for individuals with ‘Duldung’".

What do I need to know?

Who is eligible for "Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht"?

According to the new law, if you have been in Germany for five uninterrupted years by October 31, 2022 (i.e. at least since October 31, 2017) with a

  • "Duldung" (Tolerated Stay Permit),
  • "Aufenthaltsgestattung" (Temporary Residence Permit) or
  • Residence Permit,

then you can apply for a so-called Opportunity Residence Permit (per § 104c residence Act). You must not have committed any crime during this time and must commit to the free and democratic order.

You can apply for this right of residence (per § 104c residence Act) at your responsible Immigration Office. It will be valid for 18 months and will not be extended under any circumstances.

My identity is not officially verified – does the new law also apply to me?

Yes. Verifying your identity is not among the requirements for a so-called Chancen-Aufenthaltsrechts per § 104c Residence Act. People whose identity has not been officially verified (i.e., those who have been issued a so-called "Duldung Light" under Section 60b of the Residence Act can also apply. You can learn more in our "Duldung Light" chapter. The time during which you were living with a "Duldung Light" will also be considered when calculating the 5-year stay requirement.

Important: To ultimately obtain a Residence Permit per § 25a or 25b Residence Act, you have 18 months to prove your identity AND present a passport or a substitute ID card. If you cannot do so, you must prove that you have made an effort and taken the necessary and reasonable steps to have your identity verified. Check out our "Duldung Light" chapter to find out what "necessary and reasonable steps" means in the paragraph "How can I prove that I have tried to obtain a passport?". Also, you can learn what kind of cooperation for acquiring a passport the immigration authorities can demand from you and what consequences the procurement of a passport can have for you.

It is very difficult or even impossible for some people to obtain a passport. It is, therefore, vital to seek specialised advice for your specific case. A counselling centre or a law firm can advise you on what to do. You can find specialised lawyers at www.rechtsberaterkonferenz.de, for example. To find a counselling centre nearby, check out the ProAsyl website.

I left Germany for a while during my stay – am I also eligible?

The new law applies to those who have lived in Germany for five uninterrupted years; however, if you have only left Germany for a short time, you can still apply for this new form of right of residence. "Short time", according to the new law, refers to interruptions of stay lasting no longer than three months. What is crucial is that you have never moved your primary place of residence to another country.

Who is NOT eligible for "Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht"?

The following individuals cannot apply for the so-called Opportunity Right of Residence:

  • The person has been sentenced to imprisonment or fines equal to 50 or more days of incarceration. This also applies to those who have committed criminal offences with a sentence of 90 or more days under the Asylum and Residence Act.
  • The young person has been sentenced to detention in a Youth Detention Centre ("Jugendstrafanstalt") under juvenile criminal law. However, if you, for instance, were in juvenile detention ("Jugendarrest"), you CAN apply for the so-called Opportunity Residence Permit.
  • Persons who have repeatedly and intentionally provided false information about their identity or nationality and by doing so prevented their deportation will not be eligible for the so-called Opportunity Residence Permit.
Can I get deported despite being granted "Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht"?

NO. You cannot be deported during the 18 months your residence permit is valid.

Does "Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht" also apply to my family?

If you meet the requirements, your spouse or life partner and your minor single children can also be granted the right of residence. Your partner or children do not have to have lived in Germany for five years. However, the following requirements must all be met:

  • Your spouse or partner and your children must live with you in the same flat.
  • Your spouse, life partner, and children must not have committed a criminal offence.
  • Your spouse or life partner and your children must not have repeatedly and intentionally provided false information about their identity and nationality to avoid deportation in the past.
  • Your spouse, life partner, and children must acknowledge the free democratic order.

Important: Your adult child can also obtain the right of residence. However, this is only possible if they live in a flat with you, are not married and were underage when they entered Germany.

I meet all the requirements – what is the next step?

You must apply for the so-called Opportunity right of residence at your responsible Immigration Office, preferably in writing. Ask whether there is a special form you must fill up and what evidence you need to provide. If you meet the requirements, the immigration authorities usually issue you with a residence permit. Since the right of residence (§104c Residence Act) is a directory provision, the immigration authorities may refuse to grant a residence permit in exceptional cases. However, the immigration authorities must justify why the Immigration Office believes that your case counts as an exceptional case. You can follow up on the case by getting help from lawyers if the Immigration Office rejects your application.

If you have issues with your application, you can seek advice. You can find counseling centers in your area on our Local Information page. Enter the city you live in and search for asylum, right of residence or legal advice.

Which document is crucial for applying to the responsible Immigration Office?

You must present a certificate of good conduct. This is a document with which you prove that you have not been convicted of a criminal offence committed in Germany. You can apply for a certificate of good conduct at the responsible Registration Office (often also called "Bürgeramt" or "Bürgerbüro") in your place of residence. You can find more information in our chapter "Registering your address in Germany". If you are exempt from the obligation to register or do not have a permanent address, you can submit your application for a certificate of good conduct to the registration authority in whose district you usually reside. Anyone who has reached the age of 14 can apply for a certificate of good conduct. In principle, the certificate of good conduct costs €13.00. Inquire at your Registration Office whether asking certificate of good conduct for the right to stay is considered "special purpose" or "besonderer Verwendungszweck". If so, you may get a discount or get exempt from the fee. This will also be the case if you cannot afford to pay the fee.

Which type of residence title will I receive according to "Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht"?

If you get a so-called Opportunity Residence Permit or "Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht", you will receive a residence permit for 18 months per §104c Residence Act. You cannot extend this residence permit – you can only apply for and receive it once.

Please note: As the Immigration Office hand you this resident permit (at the latest), they should also inform you about what you need to do to be granted a residence permit after 18 months when your "Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht" expires. 

It is particularly important to clarify when the application for the subsequent residence permit (§ 25a and § 25b Residence Act) can and must be filed at the earliest so that there are no gaps in the legal residence.

Am I allowed to work after obtaining a residence permit per "Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht"?

Yes – you are allowed to work as an employee or self-employed.

If you, as a person with a “Duldung”, faced work prohibition (“Beschäftigungsverbot ”) and were therefore not allowed to work, the prohibition will no longer apply once you have been granted Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht. However, to be safe, you should also inquire about it at the Immigration Office responsible for you when you are handed the residence permit.

You will find more information on the right to work on your residence permit or in a supplementary sheet handed to you along with the residence permit. In our WORK category, you will find various chapters with essential information about working in Germany. For many professions in Germany, you must have your qualifications recognised before you can work. You will find out more in our chapter Recognition of foreign qualifications.

Important: Please ensure that you have received an employment contract before starting a job. Otherwise, your employment will be considered illegal, which can have severe disadvantages for you. You can learn more about it in our chapter, Illegal Employment ("Schwarzarbeit").

What comes after "Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht " expires?

What kind of residence permit can I obtain after 18 months?

If you are issued a Residence Permit according to 104c Residence Act, you can be granted a residence permit according to §25a or §25b Residence Act later on. However, for that to happen, you must meet some requirements ­– keep in mind that the requirements have been partially changed.

What are the requirements for obtaining a residence permit after 18 months?

There can be some requirements you have to meet, which may depend on your age.

Apart from that, you can apply for a residence permit per §25b Residence Act regardless of your age if you meet ALL the following requirements:

  • You must speak German at level A2. There are exceptions in the case of illness, disability or age.
  • Your livelihood is mostly secured – that means your income will cover at least 51 per cent of your expenses. Or your livelihood is secured for the foreseeable future, for example, because you are still in vocational training or studying and have good prospects of a permanent job.
  • You have obtained a school or vocational qualification in Germany. Or you have passed the "Leben in Deutschland" test. This test is an examination required for granting a residence permit according to Section 25b of the Residence Act – you must pass it IF you have not completed school or vocational qualifications in Germany. It provides you with general knowledge about history, politics and society in Germany. You can prepare yourself for the test online.
  • If you have school-age children, they must attend school.
  • You must have a passport or a substitute ID card. Your identity must have been verified – or you must be able to demonstrate that you have done everything objectively possible and subjectively reasonable to verify your identity, but have not received a passport. You can find out more in our "Duldung light" chapter in the paragraph "How can I prove that I have applied for a passport?".
  • You must not have committed any crimes that can be a reason to justify your deportation from Germany. You must also not have been sentenced to a prison sentence of six months or more or a youth penalty (“Jugendstrafe”) of one year or more, which is not suspended and must be carried out.
  • If your spouse or life partner and your children live in the same flat with you, they can receive a residence permit under certain conditions.

According to §25b Residence Act, the residence permit is granted for two years and can be extended.

If you are between 14 and 26 years old, you can obtain a residence permit according to §25a Residence Act. At the time of application, you must meet the following if you meet the following conditions:

  • You attended school in Germany for three years with success. That means you have graduated to go to the next higher class every year. Or you can provide evidence of a school or vocational qualification acquired and recognised in Germany.
  • If you attend school, university or a vocational training programme, you can benefit from state aid without it being a hurdle for obtaining a residence permit per §25a of the Residence Act (e.g. BAföG or vocational training allowance). In all other cases, the Immigration Office decides, for example, on the basis of proof of income, whether the livelihood is sufficiently secured in each individual case. Here the immigration authorities have a certain amount of leeway when it comes to humanitarian residence permits.
  • You must have a passport or a substitute ID card. Your identity has been verified by the authorities, or you have demonstrated that you have done everything objectively possible and subjectively reasonable to have your identity verified but failed to obtain a passport. You can learn more about this in our "Duldung light" chapter in the paragraph "How can I prove that I have tried to obtain a passport?".
  • Your family, i.e. your parents, minor siblings, spouse or life partner or your children, can also receive a “Duldung” or residence permit under certain conditions.

The residence permit per §25a Residence Act is granted for up to three years and can be extended.

Important: If you have mental or physical disabilities, you will face less strict regulations.

Can I apply for a residence permit under a law other than Section §25a or §25b Residence Act?

No – you must first obtain one of these specific forms of residence permit. If you meet the requirements for another residence permit, it can only be granted to you afterwards if applicable.
Make sure to seek advice! A specialised counselling centre or law firm can advise you on what best to do. You can find lawyers or a counselling centre at www.rechtsberaterkonferenz.de or ProAsyl.

What happens if I do not meet the requirements after 18 months when my residence permit expires?

If you do not meet the requirements for a residence permit after 18 months, you will revert to the "Duldung" status, if you still meet the requirements for a “Duldung”. Make sure you seek advice from a counselling centre or lawyer early on.

Important

If you have been in Germany with "Duldung" for less than five years, you can apply for a residence permit per Section 25a or Section 25b of the Residence Act. You can learn more about it in our chapter "Residence rights for individuals with 'Duldung'".

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