You can look forward to spending your time in Germany with your spouse and children – although there are a few conditions attached to entering Germany with your family. However, as an international skilled worker, you no doubt fulfil them:
- Residence permit: As an employee, you have a temporary or permanent residence permit or an EU Blue Card for Germany.
- Accommodation: You have rented accommodation in Germany which is large enough for your family. You can find tips on hunting for accommodation here.
- Money: You have sufficient financial means to be able to care for your family.
- Legal age: Your spouse is of full legal age, that is, at least 18 years old.
Must my family be able to speak German?
Not necessarily. However, as a general rule, the spouses must have basic knowledge of German in order to get a residence permit. For example, they should be capable of introducing themselves in German or asking the way. However, there are any number of exceptions. Your spouse does not require any knowledge of German to obtain a residence permit if:
- You are an EU Blue Card holder.
- You are working in Germany as a highly qualified worker or a research scientist.
- Your spouse has a university degree.
- You are a national of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the United States of America.
Nevertheless, your family will probably feel most at home in Germany if they all speak a little German. We explain how to achieve this in the chapter “It’s easier in German”.
Bringing your children to Germany
It goes without saying that you can also bring your children to Germany. If you and your spouse have a residence permit for Germany, or if you are a single parent with legal custody of your children, your children aged up to 16 will also receive a residence permit. Special rules apply to children over 16. The best thing to do is to enquire at the German embassy in your home country, or at a foreign nationals' registration authority in Germany.
How to bring your family to Germany
Step 1 – in your home country: Your spouse and your children should go to a German embassy or consulate in their home country. There, they should apply for a residence permit for Germany for reasons of reuniting the family. Please note: processing this application can take some time in certain circumstances. This is why you should acquaint yourself with the necessary documentation for the application well enough in advance and submit your request in plenty of time.
Step 2 – in Germany: Once your family has arrived in Germany, you must register them at the residents' registration office and at your local foreign residents' registration office. To do so, you must present your passports, birth and marriage certificates, salary slips and tax certificates, as well as proof that you are renting accommodation. Ask the registration offices what other documents are needed. Depending on the specific situation of your family, various conditions may apply.
Opportunities for your family in Germany
Opportunities for your family in Germany
Of course, your family can come and simply enjoy life in Germany. Otherwise, a variety of options are also open to them:
Work: If you have been granted an EU Blue Card or residence permit as
- an academic or research scientist,
- a manager or specialist,
- an IT specialist or another type of qualified professional with a university degree,
your spouse will automatically be granted a residence permit entitling him or her to take up any kind of employment. This applies regardless of whether your spouse enters Germany at the same time as you or joins you later. It also applies if you have completed your education or training in Germany and receive a residence permit allowing you go on working in your profession and your spouse joins you.
If you have received a residence permit entitling you to work for any other reason, your spouse is entitled to take up any kind of employment after you have lived together as a married couple in Germany for two years at the most. If your spouse wishes to work earlier than this and has a job offer, he or she should apply to the relevant foreign nationals' registration authority which will then ask the International Placement Service (part of the Federal Employment Agency) whether he or she may accept the job.
Education: Your children have a broad range of schools to choose from in Germany. Moreover, your family has access to German technical and traditional universities – at least if they speak German well enough. However, more and more courses are also being taught in English.
It is also possible that members of your family may wish to continue the studies they began in their home country in Germany. For example, if they have obtained an initial university diploma, they can have this recognised in Germany. Afterwards, they will be able to continue their studies in Germany to obtain a higher qualification.
Information on this portal
Information on the World Wide Web
Federal Foreign Office
Information about visas, residence permits and German missions abroad (German, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic)
Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)
Information about German language skills for families of foreign workers joining them in Germany (German, English)
Federal Office of Migration and Refugees
Quick search for various agencies (German, English)
Information about language courses and skills for the spouses of migrant workers joining them in Germany (German, English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Turkish and other languages)
European job exchange with job offers and information about living, working and training in Europe (German, English, French, Spanish, Polish and other languages)
International Placement Service (ZAV)
Information on job-hunting and work permits (German)