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The purpose of these pages is to provide you with information on important legal questions. However, the authors make no claim to completeness. Although this information has been prepared with the greatest of care, we assume no liability for the correctness of the content provided here.

Under certain conditions the spouses and children of foreign nationals living in Germany can receive residence permits. The following criteria must be met:

  • the foreign national must have a residence permit  
  • sufficient living space for the family
  • sufficient financial means to support the family

Family members having a nationality different than that of the foreign national in question must follow the laws and regulations governing visas and residence for their home countries.

In the case of EU citizens who enjoy the right of the free movement of people, their spouses and children (under 21 years of age) automatically have the right to reside in Germany even if they are not EU citizens themselves. It may be necessary, however, to obtain a visa to enter Germany. Spouses and children receive an EU residence permit.

Laws governing spouses' residence in Germany

Spouses of foreign nationals living in Germany can receive residence status if the foreign national in question:

  • has had a settlement permit or a residence permit for a period of at least five years
  • has a residence permit, was married before obtaining the residence permit and the foreign national wants to live in Germany for a period exceeding one year.

Spouses can also receive residence status in Germany when the foreign national in question only has a residence permit. The final decision in these cases, however, is made by immigration authorities.

Laws governing children's residence in Germany

Underage, unmarried children (under the age of 16) receive residence permits if both parents have a residence permit or a settlement permit and if the child or children in question permanently reside with the parent(s) living in Germany.

Children over the age of 16, but still underage and unmarried receive a residence permit  if they permanently reside with the parent(s) living in Germany and additionally speak German fluently or if there appears to be a guarantee that integration poses no problems.