Reason of Residence: Family Reunion

My son has been in Germany for some time . Now, I want to follow him to Germany. Will that be possible? He has a one-room apartment, a job with a low salary and a residence permit.

Generally, a direct family member can receive a residence permit – if he wants to follow a relative to maintain or (re)establish family cohabitation in accordance with art. 6 GG and §§29, 27 AufenthG. A residence permit will be granted to you if

  • your son has either a residence permit or a settlement permission,
  • you have enough room to live together,
  • no reasons for expulsion are evident.

Be aware that all three prerequisites must be fulfilled. One reason for expulsion is that you might be requiring welfare. Law sets the minimum standards for living space for all persons in Germany. These standards require, for each person, older than 6 years, at least 9 m² of living space, and for each person from 2 through 6 years at least 6 m² (§2 IV AufenthG). Babies will be excluded from these calculations. In your special case, I would not take a bet on the success of your application.
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I have been living here for six years and now want my spouse to come here and also live permanently in Germany. Will that be possible?

Start planning your second “wedding night”! Oh, yes. Be sure to have a recent photo from her at hand. Generally and according to §30 AufenthG, a spouse may follow if the residing foreigner has:

  • a settlement permission,
  • a residence permit for five years, or
  • a residence permit for less than five years, in which case the marriage has to already have been existing at the time of having granted the permit.
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Can I subsequently have my kids follow me to Germany after I have found an apartment for all of us?

In general, minor children (under 18) can follow their parents to Germany if the parents have either an Aufenthaltserlaubnis or Niederlassungserlaubnis.

What about exceptions ?

The two just mentioned requirements do not have to be met if

  • you are an acknowledged asylum seeker or acknowledged refugee having a residence or settlement permit,
  • you relocate their center of your vital interests simultaneously to Germany and you both have a residence or settlement permit.

In these cases, your child is entitled to stay in Germany until he/she turns 18.

Are there any advantages to being the spouse of a German ?

Any advantages? Well, only a few unimportant ones. Being married to a German gives you the enforceable right to enter Germany. The German constitution guarantees the protection of the family as long as cohabitation exists (art. 6 GG). The condition of this right is that the German has his habitual residence in Germany – or at least started to have it. Pursuing this constitutional right, spouses of Germans must be granted entry. But this does not mean you can never be expelled. Keep in mind, this is only the very general concept. Continue reading!!

Hey, I recently heard the grape-vines telling me that new rules for non-German spouses of Germans have been set into force. Is this true?

Yes, this is true. Since mid 2007, the non-German spouse must show that he/she has a simple command of German. The official reason for this somewhat strange rule is that migrants are to be able to participate in social life – right from entry. Other voices say that has only been initiated to prevent forced marriages, which is an allegedly common phenomenon in Turkish and other (radically) Muslim families.

So okay, I need to show that I have a good grasp of German. Can’t I just enter and start learning in Germany ?

No. The knowledge of German is a prerequisite for you to successfully apply for a visa to enter Germany. In other words, no German no entry. It’s simple as that.

Oh, come on. Is this also true for me as an Aussi ? Are there really no exceptions?

Sure there exceptions! And you belong to them. Generally, you either have to a well-trained person, refugee or self-employed. The complete list of exceptions:

  • You have a university degree or corresponding qualification, or exceptionally in your case, there is a recognizably lesser need for integration for other reasons.
  • You do not wish to reside permanently in Germany.
  • Your spouse has a residence permit as
  • a highly-skilled employee,
  • a researcher,
  • a company founder.
  • a person entitled to asylum.
  • a recognized refugee.
  • a holder of a permanent residence permit from other EU countries.
  • Your spouse is a citizen of one of the buddy states: Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, or the United States of America. Right, these citizens do not need a visa to enter Germany.
How much do I have to speak to enter Germany? What is “simple knowledge of German”?

Level A1 of Common European Framework of Reference for Languages is required. This means you are to be able to understand and use common, everyday expressions and very simple sentences (e.g. asking for directions, shopping, etc). You should be able to introduce yourself and others and ask and answer questions about personal details such as where you live or what people you know. Of course, the person you are talking to must speak clearly and be prepared to help. In other words, what a language for tourists shows is what you need. You should also have basic German writing skills, e.g. you should be able to enter your name, address, nationality, etc. on forms.

Hey great, I buy a language guide, study it, practice a bit and then I can prove my simple German, or?

That might work. However, if you are not able to orally tell the officer in the German consulate that you want to follow your better half to Germany and do not understand the application form, then you chances are slim – if at all. To nevertheless still successfully apply you will have to present the certificate "Start German 1" from a Goethe-Institute in your vicinity. This test can also be taken from a licensed language school or a Goethe-Institute Partner. If your country has no Goethe Institute or this test is not (yet) available then the officer in the consulate will decide. Only in exceptional cases will other language certificates suffice as a proof. Of course, if you fluently speak German then just go to the consulate and don’t worry about this language problem!

What about my elderly parents, can they follow me as "family reunion", too? I own a big house and have enough income to support them.

Yes, based upon your permit your parents will be allowed to follow you for a family reunion (§§36 II, 30 III,  AufenthG). However, this will not be easy because you need to prove an undue hardship. This sounds easy but will not be. The German government is not interested in non-working persons. But, if they are financially not so well off then you will have to sustain them, too – i.e. on top of the needs for your own family. Keep in mind that the office will check all requirements with great scrutiny. They will want to prevent any dependency on welfare.


Additional information