Residence permit; Granting of subsequent immigration of family members of foreign nationals
Foreign nationals staying in Germany by virtue of a residence permit are entitled to apply for the subsequent immigration of their spouses, minor children or unmarried life partners. It goes without saying that the foreign spouses or minor children or unmarried life partners of German nationals are equally entitled to subsequent immigration to Germany.
Marriage and family enjoy special protection by German Basic Constitutional Law and the Bavarian Constitution. For this reason, both German nationals and foreign nationals staying in Germany by virtue of a residence permit are entitled to the subsequent immigration of their foreign spouses or minor children. The individual rules & regulations governing the subsequent immigration of foreign family members, which also apply mutatis mutandis to the subsequent immigration of unmarried life partners, are set forth in great detail in the German Residence Act (AufenthG). A distinction is made between the different "specifics of the case", e.g. whether or not the foreign national living in Germany and seeking the subsequent immigration of family members is in possession of a residence permit or permanent settlement permit, or whether or not that person has been recognized as a person qualifying for political asylum (refer to "Related Issues" under "Residence permit; Issuing and Renewal" under "permanent settlement permit; Issuing and Renewal"). Also, the purpose of stay underlying the residence permit of the family member already living on federal territory (whether temporary or permanent) plays a decisive role.
In certain cases, a legal entitlement exists, i.e. the subsequent immigration of family members has to be permitted if all prerequisites specified by the law have been fulfilled. In all other cases, the decisions will be made on a discretionary basis, i.e. the subsequent immigration of family members may be permitted on a case-by-case basis.
Before foreign spouses, children, or unmarried life partners are able to enter Germany, they absolutely need a visa for the subsequent immigration of family members, which can be obtained from the diplomatic representation in their native country (see "National Visa; Issuing and Renewal" under "Related Issues"). The Aliens Department will be happy to advise you on a case-by-case basis whether or not there are exemptions from the obligation to hold a visa, e.g. for certain countries of origin.
What all cases of subsequent immigration of family members have in common is that the entry of spouses, children, or unmarried life partners to Germany must have for its purpose the establishment and preservation of family life or life-long partnership.
In these cases, the parties involved must generally be able to earn their livelihood including adequate medical insurance coverage without recourse to public funds. In addition, adequate living quarters must be available.
In the case of foreign spouses, minor children, or unmarried life partners of German nationals, factors like adequate means of subsistence and adequate living quarters initially play a less important role. However, certain types of receipt of social welfare benefits may even in these cases lead to the refusal of subsequent immigration of family members.
The subsequent immigration of spouses to live with German nationals or foreign nationals in Germany is possible only if both spouses are of age. Additionally, it is generally necessary for the subsequently immigrating spouse to be capable of simple oral communication in the German language. The purpose of this is to encourage the parties involved to acquire basic proficiency in the German language even prior to entering Germany, for the purpose of facilitating their integration in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany. For this reason, there are also exceptions to the rule: e.g. for the spouses of businesspeople who will be working and living in Germany on a temporary basis only, or for persons holding a university degree with a noticeable low need of integration.
The subsequent immigration of family members other than spouses, minor children, or unmarried life partners, i.e. e.g. in-laws, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts, or grandchildren, will be authorized only in cases of unusual hardships. There are very high standards for determining the existence of an unusual hardship. As a general rule, no benefits will be provided for these foreign family members of German nationals.
The subsequent immigration of family members is excluded in the following, among else:
- For foreign nationals whose deportation has been temporarily suspended and who are therefore allowed to stay on federal territory with exceptional leave to remain for humanitarian reasons (cases of exceptional leave to remain), or for foreign nationals in possession of a residence title for specific purposes as their asylum procedure is still pending.
- For foreign nationals who have been granted only a temporary residence permit either for urgent humanitarian or personal reasons or because their temporary continued presence is required due to substantial public interest (e.g. for serving as witnesses in criminal or judicial proceedings)
- For foreign nationals under obligation to leave Germany (so-called foreign nationals subject to AN enforceable deportation order) who are unable to meet their obligation to leave the country either for legal or for factual reasons (e.g. incapacity to travel; non-possession of passport through no fault of the person; or interrupted or missing transport links).
Documents for the subsequent immigration of family members
The documents required are manifold and may vary considerably. Please consult your competent Aliens Department.
Responsible for editing: Bayerisches Staatsministerium des Innern, für Bau und Verkehr
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Alphabetical and hierarchical overview of all procedures.