A Schengen visa type C enables foreigners to enter and to travel freely in Germany and the Schengen area for a short stay of a maximum of 90 days within 6 months. However, if citizens who require a visa want to live in Germany for the long term, other types of visa for Germany come into play. In case of families, they should apply for a family reunification visa for Germany
In the case of a long-term stay abroad, the desire to bring the family home quickly arises. Do you live in Germany and plan to bring family members to join you? Here you will find all the important information about the requirements and the family reunification visa.
- What is family reunification?
- Who can apply for family reunification?
- Family reunification visa: What requirements must be met?
- How does family reunification work?
- Where do I apply for a family reunification visa?
- What documents do I need for family reunification?
- Visa for family reunification: How long does it take to process?
- What does a family reunification visa cost?
- Why was my family reunification visa refused?
- FAQ: Visa family reunification
What is family reunification?
If you live in Germany for a long time and you would like your family to come and stay with you, we speak of family reunification or family reunion . The reunification of family members to a person who is already in the destination country serves to protect the family, and is anchored in the Basic Law as follows:
“The residence permit to establish and maintain family cohabitation in the federal territory for foreign family members (family reunification) is issued and extended to protect marriage and family in accordance with Article 6 of the Basic Law.” (Section 27 of the Residence Act)
Who can apply for family reunification?
You can apply for family reunification so that you will soon have your family with you again in Germany.
You are entitled to do so if:
- You are a citizen of an EU country and reside permanently in Germany or
- As a foreigner, you have a residence or settlement permit in Germany.
Who can follow you to Germany?
- The closest family, i.e. spouses and minor children
- Foreigners under the age of 18 may bring parents to take care of personal care and minor siblings (Section 28 of the Residence Act)
- Other family members (such as uncles, aunts, and grandparents) can only join them in very limited exceptional cases
Family reunification for refugees?
Refugees entitled to asylum have the right to privileged family reunification, and this includes the reunification of spouses and children. Since August 1, 2018, refugees who receive subsidiary protection have again had the option of family reunification for their closest family members – albeit for a limited quota of 1,000 people per month.
Family reunification visa: What requirements must be met?
As an EU citizen with the right of free movement (e.g. as an employee or self-employed person), spouses and children can also live and work in Germany and do not need a visa for family reunification or a residence permit – even if they are not EU citizens. It looks different if a foreigner who requires a visa wants to bring his family to Germany.
If you are planning a family reunification in Germany as a foreigner requiring a visa, you must:
- Have had a secure residence status for at least 2 years,
- Have sufficient living space and
- Can provide for you and your loved ones secure livelihoods.
The following applies to spousal reunification:
- Foreign spouses must have basic knowledge (A1) of the German language .
- There must be no grounds for deportation against the spouse who is joining them
- Both spouses must have reached the age of 18.
The following applies to the new children:
- Children up to the age of 16 receive a residence permit for the purpose of child immigration (§32 AufenthG)
- The child must not be married, divorced or widowed.
- special requirements apply for children over 16 years of age *
- Children who have reached the age of 18 must apply for their own residence permit
* Children over 16 years of age are only entitled to a residence permit if:
- They move to Germany with both parents or the parent with sole custody,
- Have a command of the German language (C1) or
- For other reasons, such as completed training in Germany.
Note: You can also apply for a family reunification visa for your child as a single parent, but you need the consent of the second parent who has custody.
How does family reunification work?
To enter Germany, family members need a “family reunification” visa. For the further stay a residence permit is required.
Here is an overview of the visa application process:
- Applying for a visa for family reunification at the German diplomatic mission abroad
- Forwarding your application to the immigration authority responsible for you in Germany
- Appointment for a personal audition at the immigration office for the partner living in Germany
- Prior approval from the immigration office to the German diplomatic mission abroad
- The German diplomatic mission abroad decides on the family reunification visa
- After entering the country: Registration of residence at the responsible residents’ registration office within one week
- Applying for a residence permit at the immigration office
Where do I apply for a family reunification visa?
If your spouse needs a national type D visa for the purpose of family reunification, then he should apply for the visa at the responsible German embassy or consulate. The Foreign Office keeps a list of all German missions abroad.
What documents do I need for family reunification?
The question of the necessary documents can vary from country to country; it also depends on whether spouses and/or children are moving to join you and what your personal circumstances are. Our checklists can serve as a guide when applying for family reunification.
1. Checklist: Documents for the application for family reunification
- Application for family reunification
- Valid passport
- Current passport photo
- Identity card copy of the spouse
- Marriage certificate or proof of same-sex partnership
- Proof of German language skills (A1)
When children follow suit:
- Child’s birth certificate
- Proof of sole custody if the child is only to move in with one parent
Note: The application forms are available from the diplomatic missions abroad and also from their websites. This list may not be complete. Ask your German diplomatic mission abroad which documents are required in each individual case.
2. Checklist: Documents for the immigration authorities in Germany
Documents of the person living in Germany:
- Identity card, passport or foreign home passport
- Employer statement
- Proof of income to secure a livelihood
- Self-employed and freelancers:
- Business registration or written description of the activity
- Certificate from the tax office (information in tax matters)
- Current tax assessment from the tax office
- Certificate from the tax advisor for the average monthly net income
- Proof of health insurance
- Housing certificate and rental agreement or purchase agreement stating the number of square meters
- Proof of existing health insurance from the date of entry for the reunification
- Residence certificate (available from the residents’ registration office)
Note: Since the immigration authorities and embassies work hand in hand when it comes to visas for family reunification, the necessary documents can be presented to both authorities .
Visa for family reunification: How long does it take to process?
It can take up to three months for a family reunification visa to be issued . If the application is approved, a visa for entry into Germany can be issued with a validity of three months.
What does a family reunification visa cost?
The processing fee for a national visa is usually € 75, for applicants who are minors € 37.50. The application for a visa for family reunification with a German citizen or an EU citizen is free of charge.
Why was my family reunification visa refused?
Have you submitted an application for family reunification and have now received a rejection notice? A family reunification visa can be refused for various reasons:
- there is suspicion of marriage of convenience
- the spouse’s income is insufficient
- Insufficient knowledge of German on the part of the applicant
- Entry ban regarding the applicant
If you do not agree with the decision, you have one month to remonstrate. To do this, you can lodge a complaint with the responsible diplomatic mission and ask for it to be checked again. This process is called remonstration.
FAQ: Visa family reunification
What do you need for family reunification?
For family reunification, you first need a valid family reunification visa. In addition, other documents such as a marriage certificate, valid identity papers and proof of German language skills at level A1 are required.
Who has the right to family reunification?
If you are a citizen of an EU country and permanently reside in Germany or if you have a residence or settlement permit as a foreigner in Germany, you can bring your family to Germany. First and foremost, the closest family is allowed to join, i.e. spouses and minor children.
Who decides on the family reunification visa?
After the immigration office has given its approval, the German diplomatic mission abroad decides on the family reunification visa.