Residency Rights

A couple receives counseling on the residency rights

Do I need a residency permit?

If you would like to move to Berlin as a citizen of an EU state, you do not require a residence permit. You only need to possess a valid personal identification card. As a citizen of the EU, you have the right to stay if you are employed or (for a certain period of time) if you are looking for work. As an unemployed citizen of the EU or as a student, you must possess sufficient private funds to cover your living expenses, including health insurance. Citizens from Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway are considered equal to EU citizens in this regard. People from Switzerland receive a Switzerland residency permit under the same conditions, which is transformed into an unlimited Switzerland residency permit after five years. Because EU citizens are permitted to work in any EU country under the same conditions as local citizens, there is no need for a separate work permit.

If you come from a country outside of the EU and plan to stay up to 90 days without employment, you will find information about your visa obligation on the webpages of the Welcome Center Berlin.

If you come from a country outside of the EU and would like to live for longer in Germany, then your visa is connected with the purpose of your planned stay in Germany. Normally, you need to apply for a visa at the German embassy or the German consulate in the country where you live. After entry into Germany, you can apply for the issue of a longer residency permit at the foreign nationals’ office. Further information on visas and exceptions to visa requirements can be found on the Welcome Centre Berlin pages

If you live as a citizen of a non-EU state in Germany with a valid residency permit, then you can apply for your spouse, your same-sex life partner, or your under-age children to receive a residency permit under certain conditions to reunite your family. This also applies to parents of German under-age children and parents whose under-age children have received a residency permit or a settlement permit according to specific regulations of the residency act and do not have a parent in Germany who is entitled to guardianship. Here, you can find information on different terms under which a residence permit can be issued:
Residence permits for spouses, parents and children of foreign members of the family
Residence permit for spouses and children of foreign apprentices, students, scientists and teachers
Residence permit for spouses and children of an EU Blue Card holder
Residence permits for spouses, parents and children of beneficiaries of subsidiary protection

Spouses, same-sex partners and under-age children of German nationality and parents of under-age German children can also apply for a residence permit to be with their families.

Detailed information and a list of the required documents are provided for you at

To be allowed to work as a citizen of a non-EU state, you require a work permit alongside the residence permit to residence permit)

Which different residency permits and other forms of status are there?

The residency act recognises the following residency permits:

  • Visa
  • Residency permit
  • Settlement permit
  • EU Blue Card
  • Permanent EU residency permit
  • ICT Card

The ICT Card is a residence permit for executives, specialists or trainees who are employed at a company in an EU country and are posted in a branch belonging to the same consortium in Germany.

A detailed listing offers you a summary of the different residence permits that can be issued for employment or training. Please take note that the residence permits in this summary can be found in the left navigation menu.

A visa is an independent residency permit that is issued by a foreign representative for the purpose of entering Germany and is issued for the initial period after entry.

The Aufenthaltserlaubnis (Residency permit) is issued by the foreign nationals’ office. This is generally limited and connected with a purpose. It may be granted for a variety of reasons, e.g. for vocational training or for employment, to found a company, or for reasons involving international law or humanitarian, political, or family reasons.

The settlement permit is an unlimited residency permit and entitles you to employment. After this has been issued, residency is no longer connected with a specific purpose.

The EU Blue Card is a residency permit for highly qualified people with an academic title from a university, who do not come from the EU. This residency permit is issued for a maximum of four years or for the duration of a limited employment contract plus three months and requires an existing employment agreement or a concrete employment offer with a specific minimum income. As the owner of an EU Blue Card, you may receive a settlement permit under relaxed conditions.

Permission to reside permanently in the EU is also an unlimited residency permit that entitles you to mobility within the EU.

A detailed list offers you an overview of the various residency permits that may be issued for employment or for vocational training.

Residency permits for family reunification are issued to enable the development and preservation of the family unit in Germany. Family reunification in Germany is also possible for non-EU citizens who live in Germany and possess a residency permit. This is essentially limited to spouses or registered life partners and the reunification of under-age children with their parents or vice-versa. Other family members, e.g. adult children, adult siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles may only be reunited in exceptional cases or in especially difficult situations.

Residency permits for humanitarian reasons in particular may be issued if the Ministry of Migrant and Refugee Affairs has determined a need for protection during the asylum process. For example, it may also be issued to people who would normally be required to leave Germany but who have already lived in Germany for at least eight years (four years for youths), who have integrated well, and who fulfil a series of additional requirements.

Duldung (Tolerated status) is not a residency permit. This is issued if the affected persons do not possess a valid residency permit for Germany, but they also cannot be deported. Tolerated status may expire at any team if the obstacle to deportation is removed. This is often connected with serious limitations to the labour market and social services.

A work permit can only be issued along with a residence permit or a short-term permit and must be explicitly noted in the residence permit.

Refugees who have submitted an asylum application shall receive permission to reside for the duration of the asylum process.

In order to apply for a residency permit, settlement permit, an EU Blue Card, or permission to stay in the EU permanently, you can use your address to find the closest foreign nationals’ office that is responsible for you.

Where can I apply for a residency permit?

Your visa is issued to you by the responsible foreign representative of the Federal Republic of Germany and must be applied for there.

Other residency permits may be applied for in Germany at the respective responsible foreign nationals’ office. If you want to apply for a residency permit in Berlin, then it is sensible to book an appointment with the foreign nationals’ office early on to avoid long waiting times.

The foreign nationals’ office recommends registering your apartment in Berlin before your appointment. Additional information about registering your apartment in Berlin is available under registration requirements.

You can find out which documents you need to present to the Immigration Office for an appointment on the Immigration Office Berlin website. Bitte beachten Sie, dass nur ein Antrag mit vollständigen Unterlagen bearbeitet werden kann.