How to get Permanent Residence Permit in Germany


Updated on Feb 05 • 5 minute read

After securing a temporary residence permit and working in Germany for a number of years, you’ll be able to upgrade your temporary residence permit to a permanent settlement permit! Once you’ve upgraded to this type of permit, you’ll have the right to stay and work in Germany for as long as you like! There are different requirements to get this type of permit, so let’s find out which way is the best for you.

Types of permanent residence permits

There are two types of permanent residence permits available in the EU. They are fairly similar, though one is more suitable for you if you plan to stay flexible and are ready and willing to move around in the EU. Let’s take a look at them.

Permanent settlement permit

how to get permanent residence in germany

Once you’ve been working in Germany for 5 years, you get to apply for a permanent residence permit. These basically allow you to settle and work in Germany for life! No more having to worry about renewals, and losing your job won’t mean that you also would lose the right to residence anymore. Additionally, depending on the type of temporary residence permit you started with, you might be eligible to apply for a permanent settlement permit a lot sooner than the 5 year period. We’ll talk more about this a little later.

Remember, though, that while your permit doesn’t expire with time, it can actually expire if you’re away from Germany for too long. In general, your Permit is due to expire after 6 months out of the country. You can, however, ask for special permission to be away for a longer period of time, if you have a good reason to do so.

Permanent residence permit for the European Community

This Permit is very similar to the one mentioned above, but is a good option if you feel like you might want to move around in the EU in the future. With this permit, you have freedom of movement within the Schengen zone and the right to temporary residence in all EU countries. Additionally, because you’ve pretty much proven yourself in Germany, as a holder of this permit you can also fast-track your application for residency in other EU countries.

General requirements for a permanent residence permit

Time alone is a factor, but you also need to be able to meet these general requirements in order to be able to go from a temporary residence to a permanent settlement.

  • You have legally lived and worked in Germany for at least five years according to your work visa requirements.
  • You are still in possession of a valid permit that allows you to work.
  • You can prove that you’re able to financially support yourself and your family members without the aid of public funds.
  • You have sufficient proficiency in German and can demonstrate basic knowledge of the legal and social system and the way of life in Germany. This is backed up by a successful completion of an integration course.
  • You have sufficient living space for yourself and your family.
  • You have paid the compulsory or voluntary contributions to the statutory pension insurance for at least 60 months.
  • You don’t have a criminal record

How to get permanent residency in Germany faster

In some cases, you might be eligible for special provisions, meaning that you can apply for your permanent settlement sooner than the regular period of 5 years that are the regular minimum period. There are some requirements on top of just the type of temporary permit you hold, though. Let’s take a look.

Permanent residence in Germany for EU Blue Card holders

If you’re a holder of a EU Blue Card visa, you’re in luck! Because in this case you’re eligible for this settlement permit after only 33 months if you speak basic German (A1). If you’ve really worked on your language skills, it can be reduced even further to under 2 years! If you speak German well (B1) and manage to confirm this with a naturalisation or integration test, you could be applying for permanent residence after only 22 months.

Permanent residence in germany as a student

How to get Permanent residence in germany as a student

As a student, you probably start out with an educational visa. Unfortunately, these don’t allow you to apply for a residence permit, even if you’ve been studying in Germany for over 5 years. Instead, you’re expected to complete your studies and then find work related to your degree. Then, after 2 years on a temporary work visa in this capacity, you’ll be able to apply for permanent residence. Essentially, the country will count your time as a student, as long as you work for 2 years afterwards.

Permanent residence for the self-employed

This permit is intended for people who set up their own business in Germany. Unfortunately, that means expat freelancers don’t get to make use of this fastlane. To qualify, you must have held your valid residence permit for self-employment for 3 years and you must be able to prove that you managed to successfully start the business you set out to start. Technically, this means you need to be able to prove that your business is bringing in enough income for you to be able to sustain yourself pretty much indefinitely.

Permanent residence in Germany for highly qualified personnel

There’s also a very rare circumstance where you can be granted a permanent residence immediately. This is intended for highly qualified individuals who have special technical expertise. For example this applies to people with prominent academic or scientific positions. If you think you meet these criteria, you’ll need to ask the German Federal Employment Agency for special permission to apply immediately.

Application procedure

Your application for a permanent settlement permit means making an appointment at your local Auslanderbehörde (foreigner’s office). You can find the nearest foreigners office by checking in with the municipality or visiting the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees website. If you’re lucky, you can even book your appointment online! The general cost for your application will, depending on your situation, range from €110-150.

Thankfully, you can already prepare the documentation you’ll be needing before you even plan your appointment. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A completed application form (in German, of course.)
  • A valid passport or ID
  • A valid biometric photo taken in the last 6 months.
  • Your rental contract, as well as the proof of residence issued by your landlord.
  • Your current city registration certificate.
  • A certificate from a completed integration or naturalisation course which proves you meet the language proficiency requirements.
  • Proof of health insurance.
  • Proof of your contributions to the German social system, such as the pension scheme.

If you’re an employee, you’ll also need:

  • Your employment contract.
  • A Tax clearance certificate (you can request this from the German Tax Office).
  • Your last 3 salary slips.

If you’re self-employed, you’ll also need:

  • Your business registration
  • A Tax clearance certificate for the self-employed
  • Confirmation of your employment
  • A business health audit report by a tax consultant for the German Chamber of Commerce.

At your appointment, the clerk will check if you have all the necessary documents and will then submit your application. As long as you’re sure you meet all your requirements, it's likely that it will be approved! If it’s not approved, you will be informed in writing and will have the chance to rectify or mount an appeal.

What’s next?

You can now enjoy your life in Germany! Or, instead, if you want to upgrade your rights even further and want that shiny German Passport, you can now work towards your application for German Citizenship!

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