You’re already living in Germany with a temporary Residence permit and would like to settle here permanently? That's not a problem! After a few years’ residence in Germany, you can apply for an indefinite residence title, called a "settlement permit”. A settlement permit opens numerous prospects: you have the unrestricted right to live in Germany with your family; moreover, you can work as an employee or take up self-employment.
Nationals of non-EU and non-EEA states can apply for a settlement permit if they meet the following requirements:
- They have held a residence permit for 5 years.
- They have the means to support themselves without public funds.
- They have paid the compulsory or voluntary contributions to statutory pension insurance for at least 60 months.
- They are entitled to exercise gainful employment and have the permits to do so.
- They have a sufficient command of German and basic knowledge of the legal and social system and way of life in Germany
- They have sufficient living space for themselves and their family.
If you satisfy the above requirements, the best thing to do is make an appointment at your local foreign nationals' registration authority to make your application for a settlement permit. The foreign nationals' registration authority will also tell you which documents you have to submit.
You don’t meet all the requirements? No need to panic! You might be entitled to a settlement permit under facilitated conditions. This is the case if you fall into one of the following groups:
- EU Blue Card holders
- Graduates of German universities
- Highly qualified professionals
- Self-employed persons
EU Blue Card holders
Anyone holding an EU Blue Card can apply for a settlement permit. For the settlement permit you need to meet the following requirements:
- You need to have exercised skilled employment and therefore have paid the compulsory or voluntary contributions to statutory pension insurance for at least 33 monthsand
- You need to have sufficient command of the German language (Level A1). If you can proof the advanced Level B1, the period is reduced from 33 to just 21 months.
As an EU Blue Card holder you also have to have sufficient living space for yourself and you need to provide proof of your knowledge of the German legal and social system (e.g. through the test "Life in Germany"). The latter can be abstained from, though the foreign nationals' registration authorities often ask you to provide it.
Here is a list of the documents required for a settlement permit to be issued to holders of the EU Blue Card.
Graduates of German universities
As a graduate of a German university you can apply for a settlement permit after just two years. This is on condition that after completing your studies you held a residence title for the purposes of employment or self-employment, or an EU Blue Card, for at least two years. Moreover, you need to have a job commensurate with your qualifications and to have paid the statutory pension insurance for 24 months.
You can see what documents are required to issue a settlement permit to graduates of German universities here.
Highly qualified professionals
Highly qualified immigrants are entitled to a settlement permit from the outset as they do not need to satisfy a minimum period of residence. If you fall into the group of researchers with special technical knowledge or teaching personnel or scientific personnel in prominent positions, you can apply for a settlement permit as soon you as you arrive in Germany. The important thing is to be able to prove that you have an actual job offer.
The best thing to do is compile all the documents you will need for obtaining a settlement permit immediately before travelling to Germany.
If you are self-employed in Germany, you also enjoy facilitated conditions for obtaining a settlement permit. You are entitled to one after just three years on condition that at the time you apply you have a valid Residence permit for a self-employed activity. Moreover, you must have realised your project for Self-employment. If you can also prove that you can support yourself financially in Germany on a long-term basis, there is no further obstacle to your obtaining a settlement permit.
You can find out exactly which documents self-employed persons require to apply for a settlement permit here.
When you apply for a settlement permit a fee is payable, the amount of which varies according to the type of activity you exercise. A settlement permit generally costs 135 euros, but for the self-employed the fee is 200 euros, while highly qualified people have to pay 250 euros when applying for a settlement permit.
Permanent EU residence permit
With the permanent EU residence permit you can also live and work in Germany permanently. The permanent EU Residence permit (section 9ª of the Residence Act) is a permanent Residence permit which is basically comparable with the settlement permit. Holders of the permanent EU Residence permit can migrate to almost every EU country and get a Residence permit on facilitated conditions. You get the permanent EU Residence permit, if you:
- have legally lived in Germany for at least five years.
- can support yourself and your family members to make a living.
- have a sufficient command of German and basic knowledge of the legal and social system and way of life in Germany.
- have sufficient living space for yourself and your family.
- have paid the compulsory or voluntary contributions to statutory pension insurance for at least 60 months.
For certain residence permits it is not possible to obtain the permanent EU Residence permit, e.g. those in possession of a Residence permit for educational purposes or for certain humanitarian reasons.
Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)
Important information about residence and settlement permits in Germany (German, English, Turkish)
Federal Foreign Office
Information about the Immigration Act (German, English)