FrankfurtRheinMain (FRM) is a diverse region, offering excellent career prospects as well as a very high quality of life. If you would like to stay for a longer period of time, you will need permission from the German authorities in the form of a residence permit. This does not apply if you are a European Union national and are already working in Germany, or if you are looking for work and have good prospects of finding paid work. In this case, you can, of course, enjoy the benefits of living and working in FRM.
There are different types of residence permits and the most common is the Aufenthaltserlaubnis. You need this to work, study or do an apprenticeship in FRM. The permit is always bound to a specific purpose of stay and is only valid for a specific period of time. You can apply for an extension as long as the purpose is still valid.
In principal, you may also receive a work permit along with your residence permit. This allows you to work in Germany. If you fulfil the legal requirements for employment in Germany, you do not have to apply separately for the work permit.
EU Blue Card
While the U.S.A. has the Green Card, the European Union offers the EU Blue Card. This is a temporary residence permit for skilled workers with a university degree and is initially valid for up to four years.
To qualify for the EU Blue Card, you must meet the following conditions:
- You have a university degree that is recognized in Germany or comparable to a German degree.
- You have an employment contract or a binding job offer with a minimum annual salary of € 55,200 before tax. If you are employed in a sector with job shortages, i.e. as a scientist, mathematician, engineer, doctor or IT specialist, an annual salary of € 43.056 before tax is sufficient.
The EU Blue Card has many advantages. With it, you can travel to almost all of the EU member states without a visa. If your level of German is B1, you can apply for a Niederlassungserlaubnis (settlement permit) in Germany after working for 21 months. If you have worked for 33 months in a job which is highly qualified, you generally have the right to a settlement permit.
Family members of an EU Blue Card holder receive a residence permit without proof of German language skills and may begin working in Germany immediately. You are also permitted to reside outside of the EU for up to 12 consecutive months without losing your residence permit.
Further details on the EU Blue Card can be found here: Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).
Entering as a Job Seeker
Skilled workers of all professions may enter Germany for a maximum of six months to look for a job. To do so, they must meet three conditions:
- They must have a good knowledge of German. At least B1 language level is required.
- Their qualification is recognized in Germany or is equivalent to a German qualification.
- They can prove that they are financially self-sufficient in Germany.
While looking for work, they are allowed to work for up to ten hours per week on probation or on an internship. This has the advantage that the skilled worker and their potential employer can get to know each other better.
Entering in Search of Vocational Training
Those who would like to do vocational training can enter Germany to search for a suitable course. To do so, they must meet four requirements:
- They have a good knowledge of German. At least language level B2 is required.
- They are in possession of a school-leaving certificate that entitles them to enter university.
- They are not older than 25 years.
- They can provide proof that they are financially self-sufficient in Germany.
In this case they will receive an Aufenthaltserlaubnis für eine qualifizierte Berufsausbildung (residence permit for qualified vocational training). This enables them to attend a German course. During their course, they are allowed to work for up to ten hours per week on probation or on an internship. This has the advantage that the skilled worker and their potential employer can get to know each other better.
Have you lived in Germany with a residence permit for at least five years and do not want to have to keep extending it? The Niederlassungserlaubnis (settlement permit) is an unlimited residence permit that is not bound to a specific purpose of stay. With this permit, you can stay in Germany and FRM as long as you wish and have a free choice of jobs.
In addition, you must meet the following conditions:
- You are financially self-sufficient and not relying on state benefits.
- You have paid into the state pension scheme for at least 60 months.
- You can prove that you have sufficient knowledge of German, and basic knowledge of German society, the German way of life and the German legal system.
- You have a work permit.
- You have adequate housing for yourself and your family.
More information on permanent residency for third country nationals, can be found on the following website: Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).
Permanent EU Residence Permit
The Erlaubnis zum Daueraufenthalt EU (permanent EU residence permit) is also an unlimited residence permit with very similar conditions to those of the Niederlassungserlaubnis (settlement permit). However, the main difference is that the permanent EU residence permit also entitles the holder to mobility within the European Union. This means that you also have the right to a limited residence permit in other EU member states.
In general, you must have lived in Germany for at least five years in order to be eligible for an unlimited EU residence permit. However, if you fall into one of the following categories, you may be eligible earlier, depending on your circumstances:
- Graduates of German colleges and universities
- Highly-qualified workers with a solid job offer
- Holders of an EU Blue Card
- Self-employed individuals
- Family members of a German national
More detailed information about residence permits and the relevant requirements can be found in the brochure "Studying and Working in Germany" from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).
Reunification of Family Members
Many people initially come to the FrankfurtRheinMain region to live and work, without their families. Then, when they like it here and decide to stay, they often think of bringing their family members to FRM.
Family members who are EU nationals have more favourable conditions for living and working in Germany.
Otherwise, the path is as follows: to enter Germany your family member will require a Visum zum Zwecke des Familiennachzugs (visa for the purpose of family reunification). You can apply for this at the German Embassy or Consulate where the members of your family live. There, you will also be informed about the documents required.
Once your family member arrives in FRM, they must register at your local Einwohnermeldeamt (registration office) and then apply in person for an Aufenthaltserlaubnis für den Familiennachzug (residence permit for family reunification) at your local Ausländerbehörde (immigration authority). Once they have this residence permit, your family members may also work in Germany. In principal, the residence permit automatically covers any unmarried children under the age of 16.
To qualify for family reunification, you have to meet several criteria:
- As an employee, you either have an Aufenthaltserlaubnis (residence permit) or Niederlassungserlaubnis (settlement permit), or an EU Blue Card.
- You have health insurance and sufficient financial means to provide for your family.
- You have rented an apartment with enough space for yourself and all members of your family.
- Your family member has enough knowledge of German to get by. This does not apply if you hold an EU Blue Card, work in a highly-qualified profession or in research. In addition, your family member is exempt from this language requirement if they have a university degree or are a citizen of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the United States.
- Your family member is at least 18-years-old.
If you have any other questions on this, you may contact the Association of Binational Families and Partnerships in Frankfurt am Main.