A permanent residence permit is a goal of many foreigners moving to Germany. A settlement permit gives you several benefits, including the freedom to live in Germany for an undefined period of time. Getting a EU Blue Card is the most common pathway to receiving permanent residency.
EU Blue Card holders are eligible for a permanent residence permit after 21 months of living and working in Germany. The main requirement is German language skills at the B1 level. With lower language proficiency, the waiting period extends to 33 months.
The EU Blue Card is the fastest way to receive a permanent residence permit (PR) in Germany. This article explains all you need to know about a German permanent residence permit and getting it with the EU Blue Card. Read more about EU Blue Card in this article.
Permanent residency in Germany after the EU Blue Card
EU Blue Card is the fastest and most straightforward way to obtain permanent residency in Germany.
The main requirement is German language proficiency of at least an A1 level. If you speak German at the B1 level, you can qualify for a settlement permit after 21 months instead of 33 months.
When applying, a German immigration office will request a German certificate of the common European framework of reference for languages (CEFR). It can be the Goethe certificate, TestDaF, and others.
PR is granted upon request to holders of the EU Blue Cards. The earliest date is 21 months of living and working in Germany. To apply for a permanent residence permit, you must make an appointment with the immigration office in your city and prepare all required documents (read below).
In all other cases, it will take longer to obtain a PR in Germany; for instance, if you are on a working visa, you can qualify after 4 years, and graduates of German universities and vocational schools can apply for a settlement permit after working full-time for 2 years.
So, as a student, you can expect 3 years of studying for a bachelor’s degree and 1,5-2 years for a master’s. For vocational training – 3 years is the average duration. Consequently, getting a permanent residency will take you 4-5 years on average if you study in Germany and work your way to the permit.
What is a German permanent residence permit?
A permanent residence permit, also known as a settlement permit, is a permit that allows you to live in Germany for an undefined period of time. However, it doesn’t allow you to leave the country for more than 90 days in 180 days. Otherwise, it might lose its validity.
After holding PR in Germany, you can obtain citizenship. In order to apply for a German passport, a foreigner must have been living in Germany for 8 years in total.
With German PR, you can perform all forms of economic activities. That said, one can set up a business, have an unrelated to degree job, and change employers easily.
Read more about benefits of PR in Germany.
Requirements for Permanent Residence Permit in Germany
Depending on many factors, the requirements can vary; some of them include:
- the period you are residing in Germany
- your current and past residence permits
- knowledge of language
Requirements highly depend on your current position, e.g., employment or self-employed in Germany:
- holders of the EU Blue Card
- graduates of German universities and professional schools (Berufsausbildung)
- highly qualified professionals (hochqualifizierte Fachkräfte)
- self-employed (Selbstständige)
Regardless of your current residence permit and employment type following requirements apply to the person willing to apply for a permanent residence permit in Germany:
- reside in Germany for 5 years
- show proficiency in the German language
- contribute for at least 60 months to pension insurance
- be able to secure a livelihood through regular income for yourself and your family
- have enough living space for yourself and your family
- be integrated into German society
You should meet this list of criteria in order to receive a permanent residence permit in Germany unless you fall into one of the below-mentioned groups:
Requirements for all skilled professionals (Fachkräfte)
In Germany, Fachkräfte are skilled professionals with academic qualifications or vocational training, but also foreign researchers and scientists. So if you work in Germany as a qualified professional or self-employed, you will have other conditions for PR.
The general requirements for those candidates are:
- they have completed an educational program (university degree or vocational training)
- they have lived in Germany for at least 4 years
- they secure their livelihood without the use of public funds
- they contributed to pensions insurance for at least 48 months
- they have employment according to their qualifications
- they speak German on at least a B1 level
- they have enough living space for themselves and their family members
Requirements for EU Blue Card holders
Holders of the EU Blue Card have the easiest and fastest route to permanent residency in Germany, so they can qualify already after 33 months. The following requirements apply:
- to pay contributions to the statutory pension insurance for at least 33 months (21 months)
- to have a German certificate of A1 level (B1 for PR after 21 months)
- to have basic knowledge of the legal and societal ordinances in Germany
- to have enough living space
Requirements for graduates of universities or vocational schools
If you have finished a degree or vocational training in Germany, you can enjoy benefits when applying for a settlement permit in Germany. Here are the main conditions:
- to have a residence permit for a skilled worker for at least 2 years
- to have a job that corresponds to your qualifications
- to pay contributions to the statutory pension insurance for at least 24 months
- to have a German certificate of B1 level
- to have enough living space
Requirements for highly qualified professionals
In Germany, highly qualified professionals (hochqualifizierte Fachkräfte) are individuals who engage in scientific work or research.
In that case, different rules apply where they can obtain a PR immediately after entry to Germany. Scientific workers must prove their academic qualifications and financial security.
Requirements for self-employed
If you have a residence permit for self-employment in Germany, you can obtain permanent residency already after 3 years. For this, the following conditions must be fulfilled:
- to have a residence permit for self-employment
- to be profitable in your freelance work or running the company
- to prove a financially secured livelihood for you and your family members
Documents for the application for a permanent residence permit
If you meet the mentioned criteria for permanent residency in Germany, you can head to the immigration office in your city with the following documents:
- Valid passport
- 1 current biometric photo
- Application form “Antrag auf Erteilung einer Niederlassungserlaubnis
- Proof of income
- German language certificate (A1 or B1)
- contract of employment
- current certificate issued by the employer (not older than 14 days)
- salary statements for the last 6 months, and
- certificate issued by the pension insurance institution
For freelancers and self-employed persons:
- completed audit report together with the documents listed therein, e.g., extract from the Commercial Register
- the audit report must be completed by a tax consultant, auditor, or tax agent
- last tax assessment notice
- Notice of pension entitlement
In the case of disability or reduced ability to earn a living:
- Notice of pension entitlement on account of disability or reduced ability to make a living, or
- recent expert opinion by the German Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit), or
- qualified medical certificate
- Health insurance
- If you are covered by statutory health insurance, a current confirmation of health insurance coverage from your provider, or
- if you are insured with a private health insurance company, the policy and proof of contributions are paid (e.g., statements of account).
- Lease or proof of homeownership – Proofs of living space and monthly rent or cost of housing of own property (house or apartment) has to be supplied.
- Certificates showing participation in the integration course (if available)
- “Integration Course Certificate” about the successful participation in the integration course
- Certificate of the results obtained in the final tests
- The certificates facilitate the examination of the application.
- Old-age provision
- Pension information notice issued by the German Pension Fund or
- proof of entitlement to comparable benefits by another insurance or pension institution
- proof of entitlement to pension schemes may also be provided by the spouse or same-sex partner.
- Evidence of the receipt of other benefits – Do you receive any child benefit, child benefit supplement, parental benefit, care benefit, or similar benefits? If yes, you should submit proof thereof (e.g., notice).
- Proof of primary residency in your city in Germany
- Certificate of registration at the primary residency or
- lease and written confirmation of occupancy from the landlord
Costs of German permanent residence permit
Application fee varies between candidate groups, so the general cost is 113 EUR for the self-employed – 124 EUR, and highly qualified professionals have to pay 147 EUR for the application for a settlement permit.
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