General Questions on Residence

Until the end of 2004, there were several different and confusing permits granting you legal abode. Now there are only two different titles of residence; one gives you either a temporary permission to stay, and the other permit grants you permanent permission to remain in Germany. Visas will never grant a status that will enable you to receive a permanent residence at some time in the future. Temporary residency permits might enable you to obtain permanent residency. That depends on the purpose of your sojourn.

A visa is a permit exclusively for a temporary sojourn for up to six months. The new rules apply to persons first entering Germany now and to those, whose permits are to be renewed. The following graphic will give you an overview of all possible kinds of status following the rules valid from 2005.
Structure of Residence titles

As the graph on the right shows, there is now only one temporary and only one permanent residency permit. The rules of your (temporary) status are very much dependent upon the reason for living in Germany. This means a student will have different rights than a self-employed person.



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  • Residence
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  • Visas

    This topic is all about visas – but not residence permits. Please understand as "visa" the permission to be inside Germany as a visitor for up to three months in a row. A "residence permit" allows persons to indefinitely live here and maybe also pursue some kind of employment and in the long run be eligible for permanent residence – longest after five years.

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Additional information