Residence permit

1. Residence permit

A residence permit is a type of permit that is temporary and is granted for the purposes specified in the residence law. You can take up employment immediately with the residence permit that is granted for employment purposes.

In contrast to the previous legal position, you are no longer required to request a separate work permit. Instead of the previous work permit, approval from the Federal Employment Agency must now be obtained. This task, namely obtaining approval from the Federal Employment Agency, is undertaken by the Aliens Authority responsible for you.

Once the responsible Aliens Authority receives an application to grant a residence permit, it checks, when making the decision about granting the residence permit, whether a residence permit may be granted, taking into account the “general legal requirements relating to foreign nationals” and the “requirements of Germany as a location for business”. When allowing foreign nationals into the labor market, the absorption and integration capacity as well as the economic and labor market policy interests of Germany are taken into account.

If the general granting prerequisites are fulfilled, the Aliens Authority obtains approval from the Federal Employment Agency. However, obtaining approval from the federal agency is not always necessary. Whether and when the federal agency’s approval is required is determined by the Employment Regulation. The Employment Regulation was adopted by the Federal Ministry for Economics and Labor on the basis of § 42 (1) of the German law on residence (AufenthG). The federal agency’s obligation to approve no longer applies in many cases - in particular when granting residence permits to qualified foreign nationals - and tends to be the exception rather than the rule in practice.

The residence permit for practicing a payroll occupation that requires qualified professional training is granted if, in addition to the general prerequisites relating to right of residence (in particular livelihood assurance and passport obligation), the following prerequisites are met:

  • a.Applicant has a concrete offer of employment
  • b.Applicant has qualified professional training
  • c.Presence of legal regulation granting access to the German labor market
  • d.Approval from the Federal Employment Agency, unless dispensability of its approval is given.

2. EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is also a residence permit, limited to four years when first issued, that is granted to foreign nationals who have a German university degree, a recognized foreign degree, or a degree comparable with the German equivalent. An additional prerequisite is proof of an employment contract, with which a minimum annual salary of two thirds of the annual contribution assessment ceiling in the statutory pension fund (salary limit in 2017: €50,800) is attained. For professions with a particular demand in Germany, the salary limit has been reduced to 52% of the contribution assessment ceiling (2017: €39,624).

The holder of an EU Blue Card is privileged by law in several respects as shown below:

  • His or her family members do not have to prove knowledge of German before entry and may seek employment without restrictions immediately upon arrival.
  • The holder of an EU Blue Card may, by way of derogation from § 9 (2) of the German law on residence (AufenthG), request the settlement permit after 33 months if (s)he has practiced a corresponding qualified occupation for 33 months and made mandatory contributions to the statutory pension fund during this period or can prove similar.
  • If the holder of the EU Blue Card reaches German level B1 or higher, (s)he can be granted the settlement permit after just 21 months.
  • Persons who have held the EU Blue Card for 18 months have the right, together with their family members, to take up residence in another member state and request an EU Blue Card for employment that meets the local requirements in the second member state. The individual has up to one month to apply for the EU Blue Card in the second member state. The same applies to the family members of the holder of the EU Blue Card.

3. Settlement permit

The settlement permit is a permanent residence permit that is usually only granted if the foreign national has held a residence permit for five years, has verifiably paid contributions to the pension fund for 60 months and, in addition to the other general granting prerequisites (livelihood assurance and no previous convictions), can prove that their knowledge of the language has reached level B1 or higher.

By way of derogation from this, § 19 of the German law on residence (AufenthG) offers specially qualified foreign nationals the chance to receive the settlement permit when a residence permit is first issued. There is a particular economic and social interest in Germany in the immigration of highly qualified foreign nationals. With the introduction of § 19 of the German law on residence (AufenthG), legislators want to accommodate this interest by granting highly qualified foreign nationals permanent residency in the form of the settlement permit from the outset. To attract highly qualified professionals to the federal territory, the planning security required to make a decision about residency shall be afforded and the necessary incentives created for the top brass in economics and science.

To narrow things down and to get a better idea of which persons are to be classified as highly qualified professionals, § 19 (2) of the German law on residence (AufenthG) contains three examples that are guided by the criteria of training and remuneration:

  • scientists with special technical knowledge,
  • teachers in prominent positions, or
  • scientific personnel in prominent positions

4. Permit for EU permanent residency

Similarly, the permit for EU permanent residency is an indefinite residence permit that authorizes persons to take up employment. The prerequisites for its granting are heavily based on those relating to the settlement permit. In contrast to this, however, the permit for EU permanent residency also authorizes persons to move within the European Union because other member states can also grant a permanent residence permit.