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Spouses joining citizens of non-EU countries

Live together with your family in Germany! Find out here what you need to bear in mind when your spouse joins you outside the EU.

Citizens of countries which are not member states of the European Union or the EEA can bring their dependants with them to Germany. Which regulations apply depends on the nationality of the dependants you want to join you.

If your spouse is a citizen of a member state of the EU or the EEA

Even if you are a third-country national, if your spouse is a citizen of a member state of the EU or EEA, they are entitled to freedom of movement and can therefore live and work in Germany without restrictions. All they need to enter the country is a national identity card.

If your spouse is a citizen of a non-EU country

Even if your partner is a national of a non-EU country, you can look forward to living together in Germany. For your spouse to be able to join you, the following requirements are to be met:

  • Right of residence: As an employee, you have a temporary or permanent residence permit or an EU Blue Card for Germany.
  • Accommodation: You have rented or bought accommodation in Germany which is large enough for your family. You can find tips on finding accommodation in our section on Living in Germany
  • Health insurance and money: You have sufficient health insurance cover and funds to be able to care for your family.
  • Legal age: Your spouse is of legal age, i.e. at least 18 years old.
  • Basic knowledge of German: As a general rule, spouses coming to join their partners must have basic knowledge of German. This is to ensure that they can communicate in German from the moment they arrive in Germany. For example, they should be able to ask the way, go shopping or introduce themselves in German. 

However, there are a number of exceptions. Your spouse does not require any knowledge of German to obtain a visa or a residence permit if the following applies:

  • You are a holder of an EU Blue Card, an ICT card or a Mobile ICT card.
  • You are in possession of a residence permit according to Section 18c (3), Section 18d, Section 18f or Section 21 of the German Residence Act (AufenthG).
  • You are a citizen of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United States of America or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (British citizens and certain holders of other British citizenship from the Channel Islands and Gibraltar or the Isle of Man).

Nevertheless, your family will probably feel most at home in Germany if they all speak a little German. We explain how this can be achieved in our section on Learning German.

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Registered partners also can take advantage of Germany’s family reunification scheme if they meet the necessary requirements (Section 27 (2) Residence Act (AufenthG)).

How to bring your family to Germany

If your spouse requires a visa to enter Germany, they must apply for it at the German Embassy or a German consulate in their country. Our world map lists the advisory and contact services of all German embassies and consulates.

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Family members of third-country nationals with an existing right of residence in Germany are allowed to enter the country for temporary family visits. You can find out which regulations apply to family visits from the responsible German embassy or from the local Foreigners’ Authority in Germany.

To apply for a visa for your spouse to join you, you will generally need to provide your passport and a wedding certificate or proof of a registered or civil partnership. Ask the local German Embassy what other documents need to be submitted. 

Since processing your application may take some time, we suggest you find out what documentation is necessary for the application well in advance and submit your application in good time.

Once your family has arrived in Germany, you must register them at the Residents' Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt). You must apply to the local immigration authority for a residence permit within three months. To do so, you must present your passports, birth and marriage certificates, pay slips or tax statements, proof that you are renting or bought accommodation and any other documents that may be needed, depending on the specific situation of your family.

Once right of residence has been granted, your newly arrived spouse is immediately entitled to take up any kind of employment in Germany.

At a glance: Visa for the purpose of family reunification to foreigners

From the preparations to the application forms: This step-by-step guide shows you how to obtain a visa for family reunification

Information on the web

  1. Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) Family portal
  2. Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) Important information about family reunification
  3. Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) ESF federal program "Stark im Beruf" supports mothers with a migration background in getting a job
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