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Spouses joining citizens of non-EU countries

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 will need 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 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 full 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:

  • 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 (or your spouse is) 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 this can be achieved in our section on “Learning German”.

Infobox

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 local contact details of all German embassies and consulates. 

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 recommend you to 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 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. 

Information on the internet

Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ)

Read more about family reunification for German nationals (German)
 

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)

Important information about family reunification (German, English)

A leaflet in different languages about the basic level of German required for family reunification(i. a. German, English)

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