German Immigration Law provides four ways for foreigners to obtain a Residence Permit in order to work or invest in Germany
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Rechtsanwalt Helmer Tieben
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von: Helmer Tieben

This article has been updated in October 2021

The UK, Australian or Canadian immigration system consists of a points based system that scores applicants on various criteria to assess their eligibility to obtain work or study visa in these countries.

The UK recently reformed Tier 1 and 2 of its Point based system by introducing various amendments.

The UK therefore created a new prospective entrepreneur category or created a new category in Tier 1 of the Points-Based System for “exceptionally talented economic migrants“.

They also implemented changes to the Tier 1 categories for Entrepreneurs and Investors in order to attract foreigners willing to invest money in the UK.

In Germany no such flexible points system exists. This is mainly because of political reasons but also because of the civil law background of the German Immigration Law.

However, in recent years the German immigration law became more liberal and flexible in order to motivate more well-qualified people to come to Germany and live and work here.

The German residence act generally differentiates between three different kinds of resident titles:

– the visa
– the temporary residence permit (“Aufenthaltserlaubnis”).
– The permanent settlement permit (“Niederlassungserlaubnis”).


Generally the German Immigration Law provides four ways for foreigners to obtain a Residence Permit in order to work or invest in Germany.

1. Temporary Residence permit („Aufenthaltserlaubnis“) according to s 18 German Residence Act

According to section 18a or section 18b or section 18c of the German German Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz) a foreigner might get a temporary residence permit if he takes up a job in Germany.

In this case the foreigner would have to go to the German embassy in his home country in order to file an application for the work visa and he would have to produce several documents like his passport, his CV, the employment confirmation of his future employer in Germany (e. g. a draft work contract) or his university degree etc.

The embassy will pass the case on to the Federal Office of Administration (Bundesverwaltungsamt) in Cologne which will contact the responsible immigration authority (e. g. if he wants to take up a job in Hamburg, the immigration authority in Hamburg will be responsible for the case).

Since 2020 the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) will not search for privileged German applicants before the residence title is granted to the foreigner, if the foreign applicant has a university degree or a vocational degree.

If the other requirements are fulfilled (sufficient means of subsistence, identity is clarified, etc.) the embassy will issue the residence permit to the applicant.

2. Temporary Residence permit („Aufenthaltserlaubnis“) according to s 21 German Residence Act

According to s 21 of the German Residence Act a foreigner might also qualify for a temporary residence permit if he starts to work in Germany on a freelance basis.

The residence title according to s 21 German Residence Act may only be granted, if

1. an overriding economic interest or a special regional need applies,

2. the activity is expected to have positive effects on the economy and

3. personal capital on the part of the foreigner or a loan undertaking is available to realise the business idea.

There is no minimum amount of investment or job creation requirements anymore. The authorities are just checking, if the business idea is feasible and if the targeted business is likely to suceed. The feasibility of the business idea depends on various factors. Most crucial is the business plan of the applicant.

The Assessment of the prerequisites shall focus in particular on the viability of the business idea forming the basis of the application, the foreigner’s entrepreneurial experience, the level of capital investment, the effects on the employment and training situation and the contribution towards innovation and research.

The competent bodies for the planned business location, the competent trade and industry authorities, the representative bodies for public-sector professional groups and the competent authorities regulating admission to the profession concerned shall be involved in examining the application.

3. Temporary Residence permit („Aufenthaltserlaubnis“) for research purposes according to s 18d German Residence Act

According to s 18d German Residence Act a foreigner shall be granted a residence permit for research purposes where

a. he or she has concluded an effective admission agreement for the purpose of carrying out a research project with a recognized research establishment in Germany,

b. the recognized research establishment has undertaken in writing to bear the costs accruing to public bodies up to six months after termination of the admission agreement for

aa) the foreigner’s subsistence during an unlawful stay in a Member State of the European Union and

bb) deportation of the foreigner.

4. Temporary Residence permit („Aufenthaltserlaubnis“) for investors planning to invest in Germany according to s. 7 (1) German Residence Act

As mentioned above the UK recently implemented changes to its immigration system in order to enable wealthy investors to settle in the UK.

Foreigners investing a certain amount of money may apply for settlement after some years.

The German Residence Act in contrast provides no specific provision regarding the settlement of wealthy foreigners planning to invest in Germany.

Therefore each case has to be assessed individually by applying the general provision regarding the German temporary residence permit, namely s 7 (1) German Residence Act.

Section 7 (1) German Residence Act states: “In justified cases, a residence permit may also be issued for a purpose of residence which is not covered by this Act.”

Each German immigration office has therefore got a very wide scope of administrative discretion regarding each application of investors planning to invest and settle in Germany.

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  1. I wish to get residence permit in any EU country on basis of investment (Minimum) kindly explore the various options to me.
    I am Indian citizen having PhD/Master of Commerce Degree + 16 Years teaching experience.
    Thanking you

  2. Dear Sir / madam

    I am a British citizen and my friend is Syrian refugees with family of 4 children & wife living in UK for almost 2 year and they have been granted settlement & they have travel document , now their parents are in Germany in Hamburg and they are there for over 1 and half year approx and they also have settlement and travel documents but as you may know they can not travel to UK they are very old 73 & 75 approx and suffering without their children and situations in Syria leaving other family so their son want them to come to UK . Same time his wife is due in 4 week with twins and I am trying to help him bringing them here , can you advice us what they should do or if you can do application behalf of them , and how much would cost them. Your help and guidance would be much appreciated. I await your kind reply .

    Best Regards

  3. Dear Sir/Madam
    i am business main from pakistan i have IATA Travel agency in pakistan .i have investment for business in Germany.
    If you give me information .Then can my mind final decision for given case to your company.

    Best regards

    M. A.

  4. Dear sir
    We as a team are in uk under tier 1enterprenuer migrant visa,but a time if extension we face problem for extension in uk we have a now big setup of import and export of surgical instruments now we wish to shift our buisness in Europe especially in german is it possible we have a buisness immigration in germany as early as possibel by investment your valuable advice is higly appreciated .
    Thanks in advance .
    With regards
    Shakeel Ahmad

  5. Dear Sir,
    I am an Afghan citizen, i already have my residence permit under self employement, where i did an investment in a company, but unfortunitly the company is not in a profit basis , so i sold back the company in which my residence permit is still under that company, so i am seeking to buy a new company which may be profitable and also running business , where already it has 1 year from my residence permit , and will renew my residence permit after 3 year ,
    Please let me know if you can help me buy new running business company and take over my residence permit .

    Thank you.


  6. Hi. Business entrepreneur visa I am interested in. I will set up my company here and import leather goods.
    I will also established my own brand here.
    Please advise option.
    I am a resident of India.
    GD Singh

  7. Hi,
    I am interested in Immigrating to Germany in Business Investor Visa.I wanted to know the investment required and time form Temporary PR to Citizenship ( Passport).

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