Permanent Residence Permit for Refugees

Update 21.07.2022

Can I stay in Germany permanently?

If you came to Germany as a refugee and have been issued a residence permit for political or humanitarian reasons, upon fulfilment of certain pre-conditions, you can apply for a permanent residence permit (“Niederlassungerlaubnis”) after 3 or 5 years.

A permanent residence permit allows you to reside in Germany, without having to extend your residence permit regularly. With a permanent residence permit, you may also choose to live anywhere within Germany, as residence restrictions will no longer apply.

In addition to the German permanent residence permit, there is also an EU permanent residence permit. With an EU permanent residence permit, you have the possibility of obtaining additional residence permits from other EU-countries. You can learn more in our chapter "EU permanent residence permit ".

If you are not a refugee/asylum seeker, you can find out more about your right to a permanent residence permit in our chapter "Permanent Residence Permit".

 

What requirements do I have to meet?

I am a recognised refugee or person entitled to asylum

As a recognised refugee or individual entitled to asylum, you must meet the following requirements to obtain a permanent residence permit:

  • You must have had a residence permit for at least 3 (or 5) years, the duration of your asylum procedure included.
  • You must be able to speak German at the A2 level and provide proof of your language proficiency. If you want to apply for a permanent residence permit three years after your arrival in Germany, you must speak German at the C1 level.
  • You may receive only some or no benefits from the jobcenter or social welfare office; which means you have to be able to cover most of your expenses with your wages. The permissible percentage of welfare support you can receive from the jobcenter or social welfare office varies from one federal state to the other, but In principle, it is at least 50% to 75%. For more information, seek advice from the staff at the Immigration Office or a counselling centre.
  • You must have enough living space for your family. The flat's size requirements vary from one federal state to another. Your home must be big enough for your family. In principle, you need 12 square meters per family member aged 6 and over. For children under 6 years old, 10 square meters is enough. Babies up to 2 years of age are not included. In exceptional cases, a flat can be a little smaller. Ask the staff at the Immigration Office or seek help from a counselling centre if you need more information in this regard.
  • You must have health insurance.
  • You must have successfully completed the orientation course.
  • You must not have a criminal record.
  • The reason for your recognition as an individual entitled to protection should still be relevant, so BAMF cannot revoke your recognition.
I am entitled to subsidiary protection

If you have been entitled to subsidiary protection, to obtain a permanent residence permit, you have to fulfil further requirements:

  • You must have had a residence permit for at least 5 years, the duration of your asylum procedure included.
  • You cannot receive benefits from the Job Centre or the Social Welfare Office.
  • You should be able to speak German at the A2 level and provide the proper certificates.
  • You must have contributed to pension insurance ("Rentenversicherung") for at least 60 months.
  • You must have enough living space for your family. The flat's size requirements vary from one federal state to another. Your home must be big enough for your family. In principle, you need 12 square meters per family member aged 6 and over. For children under 6 years old, 10 square meters is enough. Babies up to 2 years of age are not included. In exceptional cases, a flat can be a little smaller. Ask the staff at the Immigration Office or seek help from a counselling centre if you need more information in this regard.
  • You must have health insurance.
  • You must have successfully completed the orientation course.
  • You must not have a criminal record.
  • The reason for your recognition as an individual entitled to subsidiary protection should still be relevant, so BAMF cannot revoke your recognition.
I have been issued a ban on deportation

As a person who has a so-called “Abschiebungsverbot“, you need to meet the following requirements to obtain a permanent residence permit:

  • You must have had a residence permit for at least 5 years, the duration of your asylum procedure included.
  • You cannot receive benefits from the Job Centre or the Social Welfare Office.
  • You should be able to speak German at the A2 level and provide the proper certificates.
  • You must have contributed to pension insurance ("Rentenversicherung") for at least 60 months.
  • You must have enough living space for your family. The flat's size requirements vary from one federal state to another. Your home must be big enough for your family. In principle, you need 12 square meters per family member aged 6 and over. For children under 6 years old, 10 square meters is enough. Babies up to 2 years of age are not included. In exceptional cases, a flat can be a little smaller. Ask the staff at the Immigration Office or seek help from a counselling centre if you need more information in this regard.
  • You must have health insurance.
  • You must have successfully completed the orientation course.
  • You must not have a criminal record.
  • The reason for your recognition as an individual entitled to a ban of deportation should still be relevant, so BAMF cannot revoke your residence permit.
I have a tolerated stay permit (“Duldung”)

In principle, you cannot obtain a permanent residence permit - however, there are some possibilities for those who have a tolerated stay permit to obtain a residence permit after a few years. You can learn more about it in our chapter "Residence Permits for Individuals with Duldung". After you hold a residence permit for a few years, you can also apply for and obtain a permanent residence permit. You can learn more about the general requirements for a permanent residence permit in our chapter "Permanent Residence Permit".

What else do I need to know?

Where and how can I apply for a permanent residence permit?

You must apply for the permanent residence permit in writing at the Immigration Office responsible for you. You will find the form "Application for the Permanent Residence Permit" ("Antrag auf Erteilung der Niederlassungserlaubnis") on the website of the immigration office. You have to send the filled application form, a biometric passport photo and the following documents to the responsible Immigration Office per post or submit them in person:

  • A copy of your passport
  • A copy of your employment contract, your last six payslips, and a recent confirmation letter in which your employer verifies that you are still employed there. This confirmation must not be older than 14 days. If you are self-employed: your last tax assessment and an audit report are completed by a tax accountant.
  • A recent confirmation from your health insurance company verifying that you are insured.
  • A copy of your rental agreement
  • A copy of your German language certificates
  • Your pension information from the German pension insurance scheme (Deutschen Rentenversicherung), if you have subsidiary protection.
  • If you receive child benefit, parental allowance or alike: the relevant confirmation letters
  • The confirmation of your registration with the police

Keep in mind that you have to pay in order to obtain a permanent residence permit.

As soon as the Immigration Office has checked your application, they will notify you in writing.

Could I lose my permanent residence permit?

Yes- if the following applies to you, you may lose your permanent residence permit:

  • If you have been granted a permanent residence permit based on your recognition as a refugee or your entitlement to asylum, subsidiary protection or national ban on deportation- travelling to your home country may lead to the revocation of your protection status and consequently, your residence permit. When your recognition is invalidated, the immigration office has two options: 1. They may also revoke your settlement permit. 2. They may uphold your settlement permit. The latter usually happens when you have been in Germany for a long time, are linguistically well-integrated and have a job with no need for state benefits (from the Jobcentre or Social Welfare Office). The Immigration Office is the sole authority that decides between the two options mentioned above (§52 I Residence Act). That does not apply to people with a “Blue passport”.

  • If you do not reside in Germany for more than 6 months or move to another country, in principle, you will lose your permanent residence permit (§ 51 I Residence Act). This, however, does not apply to those who have a „Blue Passport”.

  • Your permanent residence permit may be revoked if you have obtained it as a result of providing false information to the authorities.

If you are considered to be a threat to public safety and order, you may be deported. In this case, you will also lose your permanent residence permit. If you are at risk of losing your recognition or residence permit, seek advice from a counselling centre or lawyer. For example, you can find assistance at Pro Asyl. Their staff speak German and English and can be reached at +49 (0) 69-242 314 20 and proasyl@proasyl.de.

Where can I find advice and support?

You can seek specialised advice from Migration Advice for Adults (MBE) or the Youth Migration Service (JDM). The counselling centres of the Youth Migration Service (JDM) are specially designed for youth and young adults (under the age of 27). The staff there speak many languages- and their service is free of charge. The Refugee Council in your federal state can also support you - you can search for their office in your area on the national refugee council website. The refugee councils can link you to specialised counselling centres or lawyers. Their service is free of charge.

 

Important

Refugees are NOT allowed to travel to their home country, even with a permanent residence permit. If you do so, you may lose your status and your residence permit. 

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