Moving to Germany: How can I bring my family?
Moving to a new country presents numerous challenges, as you confront both tangible and intangible changes in your life. Being able to bring your family with you can make all the difference. With your loved ones beside you, it is easier to overcome the obstacles in your way. Schlun & Elseven Lawyers outline how those moving to Germany can ensure that their families come with them.
Many people who move to Germany also wish to secure residency rights for their spouse, children or other relatives. The process for bringing your family with you to Germany depends on whether you are a European Union citizen or not.
European Union citizens
If your partner is a European Union citizen, they do not need a visa or a residence permit to move to Germany. Since Freedom of Movement is one of the foundational pillars of the EU, they are entitled to live and work in Germany. Although it is not required – and English is spoken quite widely among the general population – being able to communicate in German ensures ease when settling down.
Non-European Union citizens
For non-European Union citizens, family reunification is not so straightforward. The following is an overview of the main requirements for bringing non-EU family members to Germany.
Right of residence
Before you can bring your family members to Germany, you must have the right to remain here yourself. This means holding a valid residence permit. The types of residence permit which allow their holder to bring other family members over to Germany are:
- EU Blue Card
- Settlement Permit
- Long-term residence permit
- Residence permit for highly-qualified individuals
Short-term visas such as Schengen Visas, Job Seeker Visas and Business Visas are not as open to family reunification as long-term residence permits.
Accommodation, health insurance and money
Next, you must be able to prove that you can provide for yourself and the family member(s) joining you. The German state allows for family immigration in cases where the individuals can support themselves without needing to resort to welfare benefits. You must have sufficient health insurance cover and funds to be able to care for your family as well.
This requirement also extends to accommodation, with the requirement that each family has “sufficient living space”. This is generally calculated as:
- 12 sqm of living space for each family member age above six
- 10 sqm of living space for each family member aged below six
Adequate availability of the facilities (including kitchen, bathrooms and toilets) must be ensured. A shortfall of about 10 percent is acceptable.
Finally, the identity and nationality of your family member must be verified. They must have a valid passport. The law also states that the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany must not be compromised or jeopardised and that there must be no grounds for expulsion.
Essentially, this means that the person must come to Germany legally and not be a threat to safety in Germany. Therefore, their criminal record may be examined to ensure that there is no threat of violence by allowing them to live in Germany.
Bringing your non-EU spouse or partner to Germany
When it comes to bringing your partner to Germany, you must be able to demonstrate that they are “your partner”. This is normally shown by proving that you are married - but as some jurisdictions allow for civil partnerships, this is also acceptable. Your partner must be over the age of 18 and the marriage or partnership must be legitimate. Sham marriages for the purpose of immigration to Germany can lead to serious issues further down the road.
Bringing your children to Germany
For the purposes of family reunification, “children” are defined as unmarried minors. The term also extends to non-biological as well as biological children. Therefore stepchildren, foster children and adopted children are included if all requirements are fulfilled and the person in question has custody of the children.
If both parents have joint custody and one of the parents is not moving to Germany, that parent needs to give their permission before the child can move.
There may be cases where parents wish to bring their adult children with them to Germany, for instance, if the child has a disability. In this case, it is advisable to contact an experienced immigration lawyer, who can outline the exact requirements for your case.
Benefits to your family
Bringing your family to Germany offers a number of benefits. Firstly, Germany is a very safe country in which to raise a family. No matter whether you find yourself in a small village or a large city, Germany is generally a country in which people feel secure. With an extensive public transport network and impressive motorways, it is also a very connected country.
Germany has an impressive education system, with many different types of school on offer. If you are located in or near a big city, it is likely that there will be an international school or a private school nearby, but entering the German public school system is also possible. Further education in the form of universities, technical universities and post-secondary institutions (Hochschulen) is widely available. Your children will certainly be able to make friends and receive a top-quality education in Germany.
Moving to Germany can present challenges, especially when it comes to relocating a family here. But with the right advice is it more than possible to have your spouse and children join you in Germany. You can learn more about family immigration as well as other ways to come to Germany in Schlun & Elseven Lawyers’ Immigration Centre.