Legal foreigners can vote

Immigration law I - entry and residence permit

General

The law on the residence, employment and integration of foreigners in the federal territory (Residence Act - AufenthG) as well as the ordinance on the employment of foreigners (Employment Ordinance - BeschV) contain general residence regulations that foreigners for entry or residence in Stipulate a residence permit in the federal territory. Foreigners entering and staying here must also have a valid passport or passport substitute.

The residence title required in individual cases is determined by the purpose of the stay in the federal territory. According to the Residence Act, residence permits that entitle you to enter and stay in Germany are issued as a visa, residence permit, settlement permit, permanent residence permit, EU blue card or (mobile) ICT card. A visa for the federal territory is always required for the first entry. You can then apply for a residence permit in Germany. Special rules apply to Union citizens.

Citizens of the Union

For employees and the self-employed there is “freedom of movement” within the member states of the European Union. For this reason, citizens of EU member states are in principle treated on an equal footing with German citizens when exercising their gainful employment. You can enter Germany without a visa and take up employment. Union citizens do not need a separate residence permit. There is only - as with Germans - an obligation to register with the registration authorities and the obligation to be able to identify yourself with a valid passport or recognized passport substitute.

Details on the employment of foreign workers can be found in the information sheet on Aliens Law II.

 

Short stays requiring a visa

Foreigners who want to stay in the federal territory for a short time, e.g. for tourist, cultural, sporting, scientific or other private purposes, usually need a so-called "Schengen visa". This not only entitles you to enter and stay in the Federal Republic of Germany, but also to enter the member states of the Schengen area. The full application states of Schengen law include: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal (including the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira), Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (including the autonomous community of the Canary Islands), the Czech Republic and Hungary, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The partial user states Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Cyprus do not yet issue a uniform Schengen visa. The Schengen visa does not entitle you to work. Only individual jobs that do not require a permit, such as the work of scientists, journalists and business travelers who hold meetings or negotiations in Germany for an employer based abroad, conclude contracts or monitor the implementation of a contract, can be carried out with a Schengen visa become. The visa is valid for up to 90 days in any period of 180 days from the day of entry if the requirements of the "Visa Code" are met. In particular, the following must be presented in a plausible manner:

  • The purpose of entry to Germany
  • Financing your living expenses and travel expenses from your own assets or income
  • Willingness to leave the Schengen area before the visa expires
  • The possession of a travel health insurance that is valid in the entire Schengen area and for the entire duration of the stay (minimum cover amount: € 30,000).

If the period of validity has not yet been fully exhausted, Schengen visas can be extended up to a total length of stay of 90 days per period of 180 days. In certain, strictly limited exceptional cases, Schengen visas can be extended for a further 90 days within these 180 days.

 

Stays of more than 180 days requiring a visa

A national visa must be applied for for a stay of more than 180 days. The national visa is only valid for Germany, but i. In conjunction with a valid travel document for stays of up to three months within a period of six months in the other Schengen countries. It can be granted and extended from the outset with ancillary provisions or subsequently linked to conditions, e.g. a spatial restriction. Employment is generally excluded for the duration of the stay. A foreigner can, however, be granted a residence permit to exercise one if the Federal Employment Agency has consented in accordance with Section 39 of the Residence Act or if it is legally stipulated that the exercise of employment is permitted without the consent of the Federal Employment Agency. Restrictions imposed by the Federal Employment Agency are included in the residence permit. Employment is to be understood as any self-employed or employed activity that is aimed at making a profit or for which remuneration is agreed or for which payment of a remuneration is customary. For example, you do not need the consent of the employment agency

  • Members of the traveling staff in cross-border passenger and freight traffic (Section 20 Employment Ordinance)
  • Employees of foreign companies who set up, assemble, install or maintain imported and commercially used machines, systems or programs for electronic data processing, if the stay does not last longer than three months per year (Section 19 (1), p. 1, no. 1 Employment Ordinance);
  • Employees of foreign companies who hold meetings or negotiations and conclude contracts (Section 16 Sentence 1, No. 2 Employment Ordinance),

The national visa is usually issued for a period of three months, in exceptional cases for a maximum of one year. Before the expiry of its period of validity, the permit corresponding to the respective purpose of stay must be applied for. The purpose of the stay must be the same as that stated when the visa was issued.

 

Entry and residence for gainful employment

In order to be employed and / or self-employed, foreigners generally need a residence permit (e.g. visa, residence or settlement permit) that allows them to take up such an activity. The approval of the Federal Employment Agency, which is generally required for employment relationships, must be included in the residence permit together with any restrictions. The application must be submitted to the responsible German diplomatic mission abroad before entering the country. The application is forwarded via the Foreign Office to the immigration authority responsible for the intended place of residence with a request for approval. Regardless of the result of the examination by the respective immigration authority, the diplomatic mission makes the sole decision on issuing the entry visa. If the foreigner is already legally residing in the Federal Republic of Germany, the application must be submitted directly to the local immigration authority.

For long-term stays, a distinction is made between the temporary residence permit and the permanent settlement permit.

a) Residence permit

A residence permit is a temporary residence permit that can be issued for the purpose of training, employment, for family reasons and for international, humanitarian or political reasons. The time limit is made taking into account the intended purpose of stay. The issue of a residence permit requires that the foreigner's livelihood in Germany is secured and that he has already provided the information relevant for the issue of the residence permit in the visa application. If the issuing of the residence permit is at the discretion of the authority, the passport requirement must be complied with and the foreigner's stay must not impair or endanger the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany for any other reason. The residence permit can be granted and extended with conditions. It can also be subsequently linked to conditions, in particular a spatial restriction.

From March 2020, access to the residence permit will be simplified for foreign skilled workers and people who want to stay in Germany for professional purposes or for educational purposes (in particular training, further education or studies). Sometimes the Federal Employment Agency then no longer has to carry out a priority check before it gives its consent. Furthermore, based on an agreement between the immigration office and the future employer authorized by the skilled worker, the newly introduced accelerated skilled worker procedure can be used to obtain the residence permit.

Details can be found in the leaflet “Aliens Law II - Employment”.

b) Settlement permit

A settlement permit must be issued if a foreigner

  • has had a residence permit for five years,
  • has paid compulsory or voluntary contributions to the statutory pension insurance for at least 60 months,
  • has not caused any danger or has committed violations so that there are no conflicting grounds for public safety and order,
  • if he is an employee, has an employment permit,
  • can secure his livelihood,
  • has sufficient living space for himself and his family members,
  • has basic knowledge of the legal and social order and the living conditions in the federal territory,
  • sufficient living space for himself and his family members living with him in the same household and
  • has sufficient knowledge of the German language.

The settlement permit can be issued to a self-employed foreigner who has a residence permit in accordance with Section 21 of the Residence Act after three years. The prerequisite is that he

  • has successfully carried out his business activity,
  • can sustainably secure his livelihood and that of his relatives living with him, to whom he is obliged to maintain, through his income and
  • has not caused any danger or has committed any violations, so that there are no conflicting grounds for public safety and order.

Apart from that, the legislature has completely reorganized the issue of the settlement permit to skilled workers in Section 18 c of the Residence Act. “Skilled workers” are to be understood as both foreigners with qualified professional training and with academic training.

A skilled worker may also be granted a settlement permit without the consent of the Federal Employment Agency if they

  • has been in possession of a residence title for four years, which was issued in order to pursue a qualification corresponding to the qualification (professional training or study),
  • is the legal owner of a job,
  • has provided evidence of the payment of voluntary or compulsory contributions to the statutory pension insurance or comparable expenses over a specified period of time,
  • can demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the German language,
  • is able to secure his own livelihood,
  • has not caused any danger or has committed any violations, so that there are no reasons for public safety and order,
  • is in possession of the other permits required for a permanent exercise of his respective gainful activity,
  • has basic knowledge of the legal and social order as well as the living conditions in the federal territory,
  • can provide sufficient living space for himself and her family members living with her in the same household and
  • if she is an employee, can present an employment permit.

Knowledge of German as well as the German legal and social system is considered proven if the successful completion of an integration course can be proven. In cases of hardship or in the case of illness-related impossibility, the legislature refrains from fulfilling the aforementioned knowledge. In the event of health-related impossibility, the subsistence does not have to be secured from your own resources and the benefits to the statutory pension insurance do not have to be made (to the same extent). The required duration of the possession of the residence permit is shortened if proof of a successfully completed domestic vocational qualification (apprenticeship or study).

For holders of an EU Blue Card, the same criteria apply in a lighter form.

In special cases, a highly qualified person with an academic education can be granted a settlement permit without the consent of the Federal Employment Agency in accordance with Section 18 c, Paragraph 3 of the Residence Act, if they belong to the group of people with several years of professional experience who in particular:

  • Scientists with special technical knowledge or
  • Teachers / academic staff are in a prominent position.


For this, the respective person must guarantee that

  • given their integration into living conditions in Germany,
  • securing their livelihood without government assistance is guaranteed and
  • it has not caused any danger or violations have been committed, so that there are no conflicting grounds for public safety and order.

A settlement permit is granted for an unlimited period of time and space and only in legally stipulated cases with ancillary provisions. A foreigner can thus reside and settle freely anywhere in Germany. In fact, he is on an equal footing with German nationals.

c) Permanent residence permit - EU

A foreigner who has the legal status of a long-term resident in another member state of the European Union is generally granted a residence permit in accordance with Section 38a of the Residence Act if he wishes to stay in the federal territory for more than 90 days. If this is to be issued for a course of study or for other training purposes, Sections 16 a and 16 b of the Residence Act must be applied accordingly. In the cases of Section 16a of the Residence Act, the residence permit is issued without the consent of the Federal Employment Agency.

The EU long-term residence permit is intended to improve mobility within Europe. In terms of quality, it is equivalent to the settlement permit. In this respect, the same rules apply, unless the law expressly provides otherwise.

In principle, the following requirements must be met in order to be granted such a permit:

  • The foreigner has been lawfully residing in Germany for at least five years.
  • His livelihood and that of his relatives, whom he has to support, is secured by regular income.
  • He has sufficient knowledge of the German language, the legal and social order and living conditions in Germany.
  • He has not caused any dangers or committed any violations, so that there are no reasons for public safety and order.
  • He has enough living space for himself and his family members living with him.

The EU long-term residence permit is open-ended and entitles you to take up employment if the Federal Employment Agency has approved it or if the approval of the Federal Employment Agency is not required due to a statutory exception. On the other hand, this entitles you to exercise self-employment.

For the purpose of studies, vocational training or further education, this residence permit must be issued separately from the aforementioned requirements if the person in question is already in the federal territory with a corresponding residence permit.

residence permit

A residence permit is a temporary residence permit that can be issued for the purpose of training, employment, for family reasons and for international, humanitarian or political reasons. The time limit is made taking into account the intended purpose of stay. The issue of a residence permit requires that the foreigner's livelihood in Germany is secured and that he has already provided the information relevant for the issue of the residence permit in the visa application. Finally, the foreigner's stay may not impair or endanger the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany for any other reason. The residence permit can be granted and extended with conditions. It can also be subsequently linked to conditions, in particular a spatial restriction.

permanent residence permit

A settlement permit is usually issued if a foreigner has had a residence permit for at least five years, has paid into a pension insurance scheme for at least five years, has no criminal record, is allowed to work, is secure for his livelihood and has sufficient resources for himself and his family members Living space has. In addition, he must have a basic knowledge of the legal and social order and living conditions in the federal territory as well as sufficient knowledge of the German language. The settlement permit can be granted to a self-employed foreigner who has a residence permit according to § 21 AufenthG after three years if he has successfully carried out his business activity and his livelihood is sustainably secured. Apart from this, highly qualified persons can be granted a settlement permit immediately in accordance with Section 19 (1) of the Residence Act. However, the settlement permit for highly qualified people is issued very restrictively. A settlement permit is granted for an unlimited period of time and space and is free of any requirements and conditions. A foreigner can thus reside and settle freely anywhere in Germany. In fact, he is on an equal footing with German nationals.

Permission for permanent residence in the EU

The EU long-term residence permit is intended to improve mobility within Europe. It is an unlimited residence permit and entitles you to work. In addition, the permit makes it easier to settle in almost all EU countries. Requirements for issuing an EU long-term residence permit are:

  1. The foreigner has been lawfully residing in Germany for at least five years,
  2. his livelihood and that of his relatives, whom he has to support, is secured and
  3. he has sufficient knowledge of the German language as well as a basic knowledge of the legal and social order and the living conditions in Germany.
  4. In addition, there must be no reasons of public safety
    or regulations oppose the granting of the permit and

the foreigner must have sufficient living space for himself and his family members living with him as a family.

Residence permit for asylum seekers

According to the Asylum Procedure Act, incoming asylum seekers are granted a residence permit, which is usually subject to conditions. For example, for the duration of an asylum seeker's duty to live in a reception center, he or she may not engage in gainful employment. In addition, an asylum seeker who has been legally resident in the federal territory for a year can be allowed to work if the Federal Employment Agency has given its consent or if it is legally stipulated that the exercise of employment is permitted without the consent of the Federal Employment Agency. In addition, the residence permit is spatially limited to the district of the immigration authority in which the asylum seeker is staying. After submitting an asylum application, the asylum seeker will be issued with a certificate of residence permit, unless he is in possession of a residence permit.

Temporary suspension of deportation (Duldung)

Even if the issue of a residence title is excluded (e.g. if there is a reason for deportation, unsecured livelihood, impairment or endangerment of the interests of the Federal Republic), foreigners may stay for international law or urgent humanitarian reasons or to protect the Federal Republic's political interests for be tolerated for a maximum of six months, Section 60a, Paragraph 1 of the Residence Act. In particular cases of hardship, the highest state authority can order that a residence permit be issued for a longer period of time. With this instrument, foreigners whose stay cannot be terminated, for example because of an obstacle to deportation (“de facto refugees”), are granted legal residence status. After four years, the foreigners affected are granted equal access to the labor market.