Overview of German Residence titles like Visa, temporary residence title (“Aufenthaltserlaubnis”), permanent residence title (“Niederlassungserlaubnis”)
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To stay in Germany legally, a foreign person needs a German residence title.

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

– The visa (“Visum”) for a short visit, entry or stopover.
– The temporary residence permit (“Aufenthaltserlaubnis”) for a specific reason,
usually only for a temporary stay
– The settlement permit (“Niederlassungserlaubnis”) which is usually


All of these residence titles are granted only after a successful official application procedure.

A German Visa (“Visum”)

All third country nationals (e. g. Egypt, Algeria, China, India, Lebanon, Morocco, Philipines, Indonesia, Thailand, Russia, Syria, Tunesia, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus) who are subject to visa obligation to enter into Germany are obliged to present themselves personally at the German Embassy or Consulate in their home country.

To apply for the Schengen Visa, the applicants must generally fill-in and personally sign a visa application form and provide further documents like:

– A passport valid at least three months beyond the expiry date of the visa requested;
– Passport photos.
– Travel insurance of at least EUR 30.000.
– Proof of economic means of support to cover the stay (e.g. credit cards, travellers’ cheques, etc.).
– Proof of accommodation.
– Supporting documents regarding the purpose of the visit.
– Documentation regarding means of transportation and return to the country of origin/residence.
– Documentation proving the social-professional status of the applicant (proof of employment, study certificate, etc);
– Visa fees to be paid upon application

B. German temporary residence permit (“Aufenthaltserlaubnis”)

An Aufenthaltserlaubnis is a temporary residence permit, granted for a specific purpose. The Aufenthaltserlaubnis is generally valid for a year and is usually extended when the purpose of the stay persists.

Apart from being extendable there are also other rights connected to the purpose of a stay, for example the right to work and the right to receive social security benefits.

There are a lot of reasons to get the Aufenthaltserlaubnis, for example the immigration of spouses of German or foreign residents living in Germany (“Ehegattennachzug”), the immigration of family members of German or foreign residents in Germany (“FamiliennachzuG”), the immigration of highly qualified persons or the immigration because of humanitarian reasons.

C. German permanent residence permit (“Niederlassungserlaubnis”)

The German Niederlassungserlaubnis is a permanently valid residence title, which doesn`t have to be renewed during the stay of the foreigner.

The Niederlassungserlaubnis will be granted for example, if the foreigner has had an Aufenthaltserlaubnis for five years, has sufficient income, accommodation and can show proof of 60 months of paid state pension contributions.

Spouses of Germans can receive the Niederlassungserlaubnis after three years, if their marriage is still intact and they can show proof of sufficient income.

German lawyers providing legal advice on German immigration law

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