A guide to German family reunification permits

German visa to join a relative or partner in Germany

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If you want to move to Germany to join a family member or spouse, a German family reunification visa will allow you to live and work in Germany.

If you are a citizen from the European Union, European Economic Area (EEA; EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland, you don't need a residence permit to enter and work in Germany – but any family member who is not from the EU/EEA or Switzerland will need to apply for a German residence permit.

As a EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, you will need a valid passport or ID card, and you have to register with the residents' registration office within three months of entering the country. For more information, see our guide for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens moving to Germany.

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals

If you're joining an EU/EEA or Swiss family member but you are not from one of those countries yourself, you will have to apply for a visa beforehand (depending on your own nationality). You will then receive a ‘residence card' from the Alien's Authority in the area where you will be living in Germany.

If you're the spouse or registered partner, unmarried, minor child of a German citizen, or parent/legal guardian of an unmarried, minor German citizen – and not from the EU/EEA/Switzerland – you will be issued with a residence permit as long as the relation you're joining is living in Germany.

Anyone else wishing to join a family member must apply for a residence permit for the purpose of family unification.

Conditions and requirements

The relative you are going to join must have:

  • a residence permit;
  • enough room for you (as judged by the German embassy/consulate processing the application);
  • sufficient and secured finances (again, the German authorities will assess this).


Spouses

If you're joining your spouse (married or civil partner), you must both be over 18 years old and you must have basic German language skills – unless, that is, your spouse fits one or more of the following categories:

  • has an EU Blue Card,
  • is in Germany as a researcher,
  • is a highly qualified person, or
  • is self-employed.


If so, there's no age requirement nor do you need to speak any German.

If your relative was granted their residence permit as a student, employee or a self-employed person while you were married (or civil partnered), then as long as you fulfil the other requirements and plan to stay in Germany for more than one year, you can get a residence permit. If you got married after your spouse was awarded a residence permit, you have to wait until your spouse has had the permit for two years before you can apply.

Children

Children under 16 can join their parents without fulfilling any conditions but if the child is between 16 and 18 years old, and not married/divorced/widowed, he/she will need to be either fluent in German or be able to integrate easily into German society (as judged by the German embassy/consulate processing the application) in order to get a residence permit for family reunification.

If the parent holds a Blue Card, a settlement permit or a residence permit for humanitarian purposes, then the latter requirements do not apply.

How to apply

You have to apply to the German Embassy or consulate in your home country.

In principle, in order to be issued with a residence permit, spouses should be able to demonstrate basic language skills. This is being able to understand and use everyday expressions and simple sentences – such as, asking for directions, introducing yourself, answering simple questions – and writing a name and address on forms. 

You may need to show that you have passed a language exam, such as:

  • Start Deutsch 1' run by the Goethe-Institut or telc GmbH,
  • Grundstufe Deutsch 1' forming part of the Austrian Language Diploma (Österreichisches Sprachdiplom (ÖSD), or
  • ‘TestDaF' run by the TestDaF-Institut e.V.


Look on the website of the German embassy in your home country for more information.

However, you don't need to prove your language ability if:

  • you or your spouse holds an EU Blue card.
  • your spouse is a highly qualified worker, a researcher or self-employed and you were already married or registered with your partner when you moved to Germany.
  • it's obvious that you don't need help with integration (e.g. you're educated to graduate level).
  • you're a national of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the USA.
  • you cannot learn German because of a physical, mental or psychological problem.


If you're joining a German spouse in Germany, you are also exempt if your partner has previously lived in another EU/EEA country or Switzerland, or it's deemed impossible to learn German while abroad or within a year of being in Germany (as judged by the German embassy/consulate processing your application).

When you arrive in Germany

You will need to register every family member with the residence registration office and the Aliens Authority. When you go, you'll need to take along your passports and other documents relating to your own situation, for example, birth certificates, a marriage certificate or civil partnership documentation, salary slips, tax certificates and tenancy agreements.

Partners and relatives – who can work?

You can work in Germany if the relative you are joining holds a residence permit authorising employment themselves, an EU Blue Card, or is in Germany as a researcher or a highly skilled person.

Read more:



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Note: The information given here is for guidance only and you should seek specific advice from the German embassy or consulate in your home country.

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35 Comments To This Article

  • Xavier posted:

    on 23rd November 2016, 07:01:37 - Reply

    I've recently retired from the military and wish to help raise my son who lives in Germany. My ex and I are on some what good speaking terms. Will a German family reunification visa allow me to live and work in Germany.

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • AdamSimpson posted:

    on 14th August 2016, 12:11:18 - Reply

    hi guys im an australian on a working Holiday visa here in Germany with my Partner (a german citizen) and we would like to stay around about 5 years or more, what visa should i be looking for, how to get it. any help would be great, danke :)

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert service]

  • kingsley posted:

    on 20th August 2016, 13:17:19 - Reply

    i just got legally married to my wife in Nigerian but she is from Germany.. what kind of visa will i apply for in other to join here back to Germany at once ?

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert service]

  • Juan posted:

    on 13th July 2016, 20:32:23 - Reply

    Hello, I am currently visiting my brother in Germany who is married with an EU citizen, since about four years already. They has enough room for me, also he holds a residence permit authorizing employment themselves. I come from Venezuela a state who is aiming to a posible government coup, a) Does that makes me a refugie person? b) Am I able to apply for a work visa? c) what should I have to do if someone is offering me a work contract?. Thanks a lot.

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Alaa posted:

    on 5th July 2016, 00:17:26 - Reply

    Hey there , my uncle is German,can I move to germany and live with him and study there P.S:I'm a minor

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Dal posted:

    on 3rd July 2016, 06:05:47 - Reply

    Hello,
    I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 3 years now I live in USA (I have USA & New Zealand residency) and he lives in Germany (German residency), I want to be able to go live with him but I am completely lost at where to start and don't even know if we're able to do it because of his living situation...
    He got diagnosed with Cancer a few months after we started dating, as of now he is in remission, but the effects of the chemotherapy have left him with a lot of mental issues so he is not able to work currently, he is kind of at that giving up on life point and all I want to be able to do is be with him and help him get back on his feet but the constant of me coming to Germany for visits and then leaving is simply not enough and only makes things worse when I leave he doesn't do well.
    I have been learning German online but would not have a fluent income to support us if I moved there. I am at a complete loss for what to do. I dont know the rules and specifications of moving.
    I would of course be interested in taking a German class/school when I arrive to be "qualified" and am aware we will probably be required to get get married, It is only the income I am unaware of, if he is living off the government will that not make me able to come? or do they allow you to stay and be married to someone who lived on financial support? Is there any way I can go to Germany and be with him?
    Any help or advice is appreciated. thank you

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Trevor posted:

    on 22nd June 2016, 13:58:51 - Reply

    If you are a partner of an EU citizen living in Germany, you can get a residence permit no matter on what visa you are on.

  • manish posted:

    on 17th June 2016, 00:28:33 - Reply

    Hi,

    My name is Manish. I am from India and i run my Owen business in India,i have a girlfriend she is a student from Germany and soon we are going to get married in India and just wanted to ask what kind of visa i can apply and do i have to pass any sort of German exam and also i have to show some sort of funds in my account in order to obtain the visa or else if you guide me what is the best and easy way to get teh german spouse visa.And also i also wanna ask is it possible if i can apply for direct PR to New Zeland or Canada.

    Thanks & Regards
    Manish

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • shivam posted:

    on 12th June 2016, 19:43:35 - Reply

    hiii... m from india one of my friend is in germany ,he is pr over there .is there any way through which he can sponser me .what are the ways through which i get job over there .wat are the ways in which my friend help me to get job .pls suggest me the best way to get jobs over there .

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • imrantariq posted:

    on 21st May 2016, 10:50:16 - Reply

    i am doing PhD from University of Marburg, Germany. is there any requirement of language for my spouse for family reunion visa

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Elias posted:

    on 12th May 2016, 23:31:38 - Reply

    I am a spouse of a UK citizen. What kind of visa do I need to join her in Germany?

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • hassan posted:

    on 7th April 2016, 23:35:32 - Reply

    i am from pakistan my wife in germany i apply for family reunion visa my all inquiry is complete in how much time now i get the cal for visa

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • PhilipNuena posted:

    on 28th March 2016, 11:19:47 - Reply

    I have a mother in married a German in Germany. I'm over 30 years old. Is it possible to reunite with them?

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Janine posted:

    on 16th March 2016, 11:46:07 - Reply

    Why do I not automatically qualify for a permanent Visa if my husband is a citizen and we have been married for 30 years?

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • ThuyViet posted:

    on 4th March 2016, 22:22:21 - Reply

    I am a permanent resident United States of America due date Aug 19, 2016. How can I apply a visa German to visit my son, he had a German nationality. Now his wife will have a baby in June, 2016.
    Please help me where and procedure how can I make to get a visa to German.
    Thank you so much for your consideration!

    Ps. Now I currently live in USA!

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Asia posted:

    on 7th January 2016, 16:37:13 - Reply

    Hello,

    I am an American Citizen who is married to a German. We moved from the US to Germany recently and I am being told I have to take the A-1 test although this article says you are exempt if you are a citizen of the U.S.A. Is there information that specifically talks about this so that I can take it to immigration. I have also spoken with someone who is Turkish and has his American citizenship and he informed me he was given his residency card here in Germany because his wife is German and did not have to go through what I am currently experiencing. While I am not opposed to taking it, if it is true that I am exempt based on my citizenship, then this is wrong.
  • Thalman posted:

    on 6th January 2016, 12:01:30 - Reply

    Hi, I am from Bangalore. My wife has done her Masters in Germany and is currently working in a company from Jan 2016. She is a software Engineer. She has a permanent work contract from the company but first 6 months is of probationary period. She has not received her Blue Card yet. Her current resident permit is upto October 2016.

    Can I apply for the dependant visa now.

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Leo posted:

    on 21st December 2015, 11:58:08 - Reply

    Hi, kindly ask if this is also suitable for gay couple ? My boyfriend is german and we we would like to move back to germany together in April 2016, what shall we do ? if you can help that will be really great

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • farrukh posted:

    on 15th November 2015, 19:01:40 - Reply

    Hello. My wife is in Germany on student visa & she is sponsoring me and my 2 year daughter Which "CATEGORY" I should choose to apply visa for me & my daughter

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on Ask the Expert service]

  • bendo posted:

    on 28th August 2015, 02:23:46 - Reply

    hello i'm non eu from egypt living in greece married with greek wife for four years and i applied for job in germany, so my question is once when i will move there for how many years i will get my visa and based in which condition because my wife will not join me in germany, and once when if i want to apply nationality it will be in germany or in greece? and if in germany after how many years of staying and my life in greece will be counted ?

    [Moderator's note: Please post questions on our Ask the Expert service]

  • Ergys posted:

    on 16th July 2015, 01:04:51 - Reply

    Hello, I'am Albanian and my parents live and work for the last 2 years here in germany, im 21 years old and i want to join them, i have in my possesion a Long term Greek Residence permit. (we were living in greece for 18 years but i dont have Greek passport) so is there any way that my parrents can guaranty for me that they have enough room and suficient fonds to live with them so i can get a German residence permit?
    Best Regards N. Ergys

    [Moderator's note: Please post questions on our Ask the Expert service]

  • Freitas posted:

    on 9th July 2015, 14:27:54 - Reply

    HI.

    I'm portuguese and I live and work in German for about 3 years. I just got married and my wife is from Hong Kong and she holds a British Oversea Passport. we got married in Hong Kong. The question is. Can she come to join me and from here she apply for a resident permit, or which kind visa is best for here to live in German.

    Thank you for your attention
    best regards
    Isy

    [Moderator's note: Please post questions on our Ask the Expert service]

  • michael posted:

    on 2nd February 2015, 10:01:30 - Reply

    Hallo I recently got out of the U.S. military and stayied in Germany to marry my german fiance. My question is we got married friday do I get a resident. My problem there saying is no cause I didnt take the A1 test. We are in baveria.

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert service]

  • Rachel posted:

    on 6th February 2015, 12:12:08 - Reply

    Hi, I am a British national and currently reside in Holland with my husband whom is Australian. He resides with me but works in Luxembourg and commutes weekly. We would like to relocate to Trier Germany so he can be closer to work. Can I aquire a spouse visa for him and he still be allowed to work in Luxembourg? His current visa is a work visa from a company in Holland that allows him to work anywhere in the EU.
  • Zahed posted:

    on 17th October 2014, 20:29:18 - Reply

    Hello
    I am holder of Iranian passport and live in Germany as student. My wife applied for German visa and familiy reunion visa to join me.
    Can she study or work here in Germany? How about self employment?
  • Zahra posted:

    on 11th October 2014, 22:35:39 - Reply

    Hi
    I am currently apply for residence visa for family reunification, my husband is a post-doc research assistant there. Can I study in Germany? Can I participate in the winter o summer schools in Germany o other EU countries with this visa?
    Thanks in advance for your help.
  • Rony posted:

    on 13th July 2014, 15:57:19 - Reply

    I am a German Citizen thanks to my father who was born in Berlin Germany.
    I am presently living in Berlin. Unfortunately I do not speak German due to the fact that I was born in Colombia and raised in the U.S.A. where I lived
    for many years. I am presently retired but my pension is very minimal and so I am receiving some social help from Berlin. I am married now for about 8 years and my wife is living in Colombia whom I have been sending to her part of my social help. I can raise some cash from my family in the U.S. A. to pay for her plane ticket. I would like for her to reunite with me here in Berlin where she is willing to work to help out.
    What is required of her in order to come here for good? One more thing, I do not speak German. I do speak English and Spanish fluently. Once my wife is here in Berlin, then I plan to be self employed in Spain given the Language.
  • Neel posted:

    on 3rd July 2014, 20:49:27 - Reply

    So a lot of details is given here. But what exactly is this visa called ? the one which a foreigner needs to apply to to join his/her spouse who is a German citizen.
  • Tanea posted:

    on 21st June 2014, 14:34:41 - Reply

    We have been given family reunification visas after our interview in Cape Town. I collected the passports from the post office today and noticed the visas are made out for 3 months only. Is this in order for us to go and register for residence permits once we arrive? My husband is British and has started a business there. The consulate called to tell me our visa applications had been approved but did not say it was only valid three months.

    I was hoping to get a faster answer here. Calling the consulate is a nightmare with phones ringing endlessly and a limited time period in which you are permitted to call within, each day.

    Thanks
  • Linh posted:

    on 13th June 2014, 08:22:33 - Reply

    My husband has scholarship to study Phd in Germany. With German permits for family reunification, can I work?
  • Werner posted:

    on 1st June 2014, 20:34:21 - Reply

    Message to Dan, and any other so called EU citizen wanting to live in Germany.
    Dan.... Learn to write , spell, and use proper English before you request a permit for Germany. You will need to speak a basic communication level in German 1st.
    Please, any prospective person looking into living and working in Germany, learn German and do not use the "my wife/husband/cousin etc etc " lives in germany route ! Live and work in Germany if you have a valid and genuine reason to. Thank you.
  • Maya posted:

    on 22nd May 2014, 19:54:17 - Reply

    Hi Dan,
    you mean "Surinder Singh route"
    Its not gonna be easy in Germany try in some other European countries.
    Here you will find some help.
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/650212281695959/

    GUD LUCK
  • Dave posted:

    on 8th May 2014, 17:50:46 - Reply

    Hi, I am a 34 years old Nigerian by and i live with my partner in Spain, she is a norwegian citizen. we have certificate of civil partner. we are planning to relocate to Germany soon. i have a resident permit in Spain...will it be possible for me to get working permit in germany if we move there and present our civil partner certificate? pls, help me out. Thanks
  • Fuzzy posted:

    on 28th April 2014, 15:34:58 - Reply

    it is probably best you contact your local german embassy about this matter.
  • dan posted:

    on 8th April 2014, 03:44:38 - Reply

    Hi im 17 and born in uk and therefore have a british passport,
    my wife however is in pakistan and holds a pakistani passport .
    im thinking of moving to germany for a year or maybe forever.what would be the procedure for my wife to come and join me.im 17 , self imployd

    and also if sheis granted residency in germany would I beable to bring her backto the uk if we change our mind about germany as It all depends on my buisness