Permanent Residence Permit for Immigrants

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Update 27.07.2022

Can I obtain unlimited residence permit and settle in Germany?

A permanent residence permit (also known as "settlement permit") is, in fact, an unlimited permit to reside in Germany, i.e. contrary to a regular residence permit, you do not have to have your permanent residence permit extended frequently at the immigration authorities. A permanent residence permit also allows you to work without restrictions.

In order to get a permanent residence permit, some requirements apply:

  • You must have had a residence permit for at least 5 years.
  • You must be able to secure a living for yourself (and your family) independently, i.e. you are not allowed to receive any money from the Job Centre or Social Welfare Office.
  • You must be able to speak German at level A2 and provide relevant evidence.
  • You must have made pension insurance contributions for at least 60 months. The amount of contributions does not matter. Learn more in our chapter "Retiring in Germany".
  • You must have enough living space for yourself and your family. Note: The standard size varies from state to state - ask the staff at the Immigration Office or a counselling centre nearby for more information.
  • You must have a work permit.
  • You must have successfully completed the orientation course. Find out more in our chapter "Integration course".
  • You must not have committed any major offences (Minor convictions with fines of up to 90 days of income or suspended sentences of up to three months do not affect your case)

If you meet all the prerequisites mentioned above, you can receive a permanent residence permit and settle in Germany.

For some groups of people, however, the requirements for obtaining a permanent residence permit is somewhat more straightforward.

Who is eligible for easier requirements?

Refugees

Everything about the permanent residence permit for individuals entitled to asylum, recognised refugees and those residing in Germany with subsidiary protection or a ban on deportation can be found in our chapter "permanent residence permit for refugees".

Skilled workers & Researchers

A skilled worker is a person with a job which requires vocational training or a degree. Skilled workers and scientists/researchers can obtain a permanent residence permit after 4 years of residence in Germany by meeting relatively relaxed requirements- You only need to have paid into the pension insurance for 48 months. You also must have a job, speak German at level B1 and meet the following requirements:

  • You must be able to secure a living for yourself (and your family) independently, i.e. you are not allowed to receive any money from the Job Centre or Social Welfare Office.

  • You must have enough living space for yourself and your family. The standard size varies from state to state. Ask the staff at the Immigration Office or a counselling centre nearby for more information.

  • You must have a work permit.

  • You must have successfully completed the "orientation course". You can find out more in our chapter "Integration courses".

  • You must not have committed any major offences (Minor convictions with fines of up to 90 days of income or suspended sentences of up to three months do not affect your case).

Holders of university degrees & vocational training certificates from Germany

If you have successfully completed vocational training or a university degree in Germany and have a residence permit as a skilled worker or researcher, you can benefit from easier conditions when applying for a permanent residence permit are easier for you: You can apply for a permanent residence permit after only 2 years of having a residence permit as a skilled worker or researcher. Furthermore, you are only required to have contributed to the pension insurance for 24 months. To apply, you must have a job, speak German at level B1 and also meet the following requirements:

  • You must be able to secure a living for yourself (and your family) independently, i.e. you are not allowed to receive any money from the Job Centre or Social Welfare Office.

  • You must have enough living space for yourself and your family. The standard size varies from state to state. Ask the staff at the Immigration Office or a counselling centre nearby for more information.

  • You must have a work permit.

  • You must have successfully completed the "orientation course". You can find out more in our chapter "Integration courses".

  • You must not have committed any major offences (Minor convictions with fines of up to 90 days of income or suspended sentences of up to three months do not affect your case).

Self-employed Individuals

If you run a company in Germany and can secure your livelihood for yourself (and your family) independently, i.e. you do not receive any aid from the Job Centre or Social Welfare Office, you can obtain a permanent residence permit after 3 years. You must also have adequate health insurance and have contributed to pension insurance. Furthermore, you must not have been convicted of any criminal offence.

Civil servants

Civil servants, i.e. those who work for public offices in Germany, can obtain a permanent residence permit after just 3 years of residence. Furthermore, they do not have to prove contributions to pension insurance. As a civil servant, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be able to secure a living for yourself (and your family) independently, i.e. you are not allowed to receive any money from the Job Centre or Social Welfare Office.

  • You must be able to speak German at level A2 and provide relevant evidence.

  • You must have enough living space for yourself and your family. The standard size varies from state to state. Ask the staff at the Immigration Office or a counselling centre nearby for more information.

  • You must have a work permit.

  • You must have successfully completed the "orientation course". You can find out more in our chapter "Integration courses".

  • You have not committed any major offences (Minor convictions with fines of up to 90 days of income or suspended sentences of up to three months do not affect your case).

Holders of "EU Blue Card"

If you have an EU Blue Card, you can obtain a permanent residence permit very quickly. After 33 months of having an EU Blue Card, you would be able to apply for a permanent residence permit. You only need to have made pension insurance contributions for 33 months, have a suitable job and speak German at level A1. If you speak German at level B1, you will be able to obtain a permanent residence permit after just 21 months - you must also meet the following requirements:

  • You must be able to secure a living for yourself (and your family) independently, i.e. you are not allowed to receive any money from the Job Centre or Social Welfare Office.

  • You must have enough living space for yourself and your family. The standard size varies from state to state. Ask the staff at the Immigration Office or a counselling centre nearby for more information.

  • You must have a work permit.

  • You must have successfully completed the "orientation course". You can find out more in our chapter "Integration course".

  • You have not committed any major offences. Minor convictions with fines of up to 90 days of income or suspended sentences of up to three months do not affect your case.

Family members of German citizens

If you are a family member of a person with German citizenship, you need to meet simpler requirements when it comes to applying for permanent residence: You can apply after having a residence permit for 3 years. You must also speak German at level B1 and prove that you will continue to live with the person (with German citizenship). You can find out more about this topic in our chapters "Marriage", "Divorce" and "Born in Germany". To apply, you must also meet the following requirements:

  • You must be able to secure a living for yourself (and your family) independently, i.e. you are not allowed to receive any money from the Job Centre or Social Welfare Office.

  • You must have made pension insurance contributions for at least 60 months. The amount of the contributions do not matter - learn more in our chapter "Retiring in Germany".

  • You must have a work permit.

  • You have not committed any major offences (Minor convictions with fines of up to 90 days of income or suspended sentences of up to three months do not affect your case).

Spouses of those with a permanent residence permit

If you are or have been married to someone with a permanent residence permit, you can also obtain a permanent residence permit. The prerequisite for this is that your livelihood is secured without the help of the Job Centre or Social Welfare Office. You must also meet the following requirements:

  • You have to speak German at level A2 and provide relevant evidence.

  • You must be able to secure a living for yourself and your family. The minimum size required differs from state to state.  For more information, ask the staff at the Immigration Office or a counselling centre nearby.
  • You must have successfully completed the "orientation course". You can find out more in our chapter "Integration course".
  • You have not committed any major offences. Minor convictions with fines of up to 90 days of income or suspended sentences of up to three months do not affect your case.

Children of non-German parents

Children of foreign nationals can obtain a permanent residence permit if they have had a residence permit for at least 5 years when they turn 16 or later. As soon as the child is of legal age, additional requirements must be met: The adolescents who turn 18 must speak German at level B1. They also need to be able to secure a livelihood without the help of the Job Centre or Social Welfare Office - unless they are going through vocational training or study. Furthermore, to obtain a permanent residence permit, the child must not have been convicted of a major crime.

What else do I need to know?

Where 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 can search for the responsible Immigration Office at  bamf.de. You will find the necessary form, i.e. "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:

  • a copy of your passport

  • a copy of your employment contract, your last six payslips, and a recent confirmation letter from your employer which 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 completed by a tax consultant.

  • a recent document 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)

  • if you receive child benefit, parental allowance or alike: the relevant confirmation letters

  • the confirmation of your registration with the police

  • if you belong to a group entitled to easier requirements, you will have to submit fewer documents. You can find out the list of needed documents on the application.

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.

Can I lose my permanent residence permit?

Yes. Under the following circumstances, you may lose your permanent residence permit:

  • 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). That does not apply to people with 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 think you may lose your recognition or residence permit, make sure you seek advice from a counselling centre or lawyer. You can find support, for instance, at a Counselling Centre for Adult Migrants or Youth Migration Service.

Where can I find advice and support?

The Counselling Centre for Adult Migrants (MBE) or the Youth Migration Service (JMD) can provide you with advice regarding permanent residence permit. The counselling centres of the JMD specialise in providing support for youth and young adults (under the age of 27). The staff at the MBE and JMD speak many languages and the service they provide is cost-free.

I have a permanent residence permit. Can I also live and work in another EU country?

No, not with a permanent residence permit you have obtained from Germany. To live and work in other EU countries, you need a permanent EU residence permit. With an EU long-term residence permit, you have the option of obtaining a residence permit in another EU country. You can find out more in our chapter "EU Permanent Residence Permit".

Important

Children can only obtain a permanent residence permit from the age of 16. The application must be submitted by the parents or a guardian.

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