Third-country nationals legally residing in Germany often wish to bring over their non-German family members who reside outside the European Union, whether to remain there temporarily or permanently. The Immigration Authorities in Germany, who support the reunification of families, have established a special visa for this purpose, which non-EU nationals can apply for to join their family members in Germany.

If a national of the European Union, the European Economic Area or the European Free Trade Association wished to join their family members, spouse or relative in Germany, all they have to do is to be able to financially maintain themselves. They can work without the need to obtain a work permit or a residence permit.

On the other hand, third-country nationals will have to obtain a Family Reunion visa, which is a long-stay visa that can later be extended to a residence permit.

Eligible Applicants for a German Family Reunion Visa

In order for one to be able to obtain the National Family Reunion Visa, whether a marriage visa, fiance visa, spouse visa or for other family members, he or she must be a relative of the resident in Germany, as well as to fulfil some other eligibility criteria. Whereas the main criterion for the German resident is that, he or she must be able to financially sponsor their third-world country relative.

Following we have listed the categories of family members that can apply to join their family member in Germany:

Spouse (husband/wife), registered partner of a foreigner residing in Germany

Third-country nationals who are legally residing in Germany can bring over their spouse or registered partner in Germany if they both fulfil some conditions. To be able to obtain the spouse visa, the German resident must:

be in possession of either:

  • of a settlement permit which is either:
  • capable of financing the other partner/spouse
  • must be over 18
  • must know German

On the other hand, the immigrating person who wishes to enter Germany under a spouse visa must:

  • be over 18
  • have at least some basic German knowledge

Keep in mind that the Federal Republic of Germany does not recognize polygamous marriages, therefore if the resident has already brought one partner in Germany, he or she will not be permitted to bring another to join them.

Children of third-country nationals in Germany

A parent (or both parents) residing in Germany are permitted to apply to bring their children to live with them in Germany. However, the requirements of such a visa may change depending on the age of the children.

Minor Children

If both parents reside in Germany then they can apply to bring their child over. On the other hand, a single parent is permitted to bring their minor child to Germany if he or she has the sole right of care and custody of the child. In case the parents share the right of care and custody of the child and only one of them resides in Germany, then the third-country resident parent must grant to the German resident the right of custody in order for him or her to be able to apply for a German Family Reunification visa.

Adult Children

A parent can apply to bring their adult child over, only if ‘unavoidable hardship’ will be prevented as a result. The child must not be married in order to be eligible for a Family Reunion Visa. However, that does not mean that she/he cannot apply for another kind of visa as, German visitor/tourist visa, student visa to study at a German educational institution, employment visa to work in Germany or other German visas.

Parents of legal residents in Germany

Parents of minor children legally residing in Germany can apply to join their child if they possess the right of care and custody of the child.

On the other hand, third-country nationals residing in Germany can apply to bring their parents to live with them in order to prevent some particular hardship.

Other relatives of a foreigner residing in Germany

Other family members can also apply to join their relative: if you have siblings in Germany, either brother or sister, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, grandparent, or cousins you can apply to join them. Usually, these visas are harder to obtain and are usually issued mostly with the purpose of preventing some kind of hardship.

Legal Assistance

The process of family reunification in Germany can be complex. As you will see, there are many steps that need to be taken, and possessing the right documentation is crucial. For this reason, we would recommend working with experienced professionals in the field of family reunification in Germany such as the immigration law team at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte. Working with experts prevents costly mistakes and unexpected delays with the process, and should certainly be considered by those looking to succeed with their application on the first attempt.

Germany Family Reunion Visa Requirements

In order to get the visa, you will have to submit some documents to the German embassy or consulate that is the closest to your home.

The required documents for a German family reunification visa are as follows:

  • Applicant’s passport – valid for at least three more months beyond the period of stay applied for, and no older than 10 years
  • Two application forms – duly completed with honest and correct information
  • Two completed and signed notification/explanation forms
  • Two recent biometric photos – according to the standards set by the ICAO
  • Travel booking – which is a booked ticket from your home country to Germany
  • Travel Health Insurance for Germany – which covers applicant’s stay in the whole territory of Germany
  • Proof of financial means- that usually should be submitted by the person residing in Germany, showing he or she can financially support the immigrating family member. However, if the third-country resident has enough funds to support himself/herself then she or he can submit documents, which show that.
  • Invitation letter – from the family member who is residing in Germany, confirming they have room for the person wishing to join them
  • Proof of accommodation – that shows the resident in Germany has enough space at their home in Germany for the applicant
  • Proof of German language skills at least level A1 of the applicant
  • Spouse / registered partner:
    • a registration or marriage certificate attested by a foreign officer, translated into German and legalized by the German embassy
    • if the spouse is of German nationality, then a copy of the German spouse’s passport and identity card must be submitted
    • if the spouse is a non-German residing in Germany, proof of legal residence and their passport must be submitted
  • Children:
    • birth certificate
    • proof of child’s nationality
    • proof of the right of care and custody of the parent residing in Germany

Remember that all documents must be submitted in either German or English. If the documents are issued in your language, then you will have to provide each of them attached with an attested and legalized translation.

How to apply for a Germany Family Reunion Visa

The application process of a German visa to join your family members there is similar to the application process for every other German visa. Firstly, check with the German embassy in your home country (if you are the one wishing to join a family member in Germany), if they have on their website a checklist of the required documents one has to submit for the German family reunification visa. If not, require the checklist through email. Upon having it in your hand, start gathering the required documents.

Be careful to obtain all documents as described in the checklist. They must be in either English or German. If the original documents are issued in your own language, then you will have to submit them alongside a translation by a certified translator.

Once you have all documents in your hands, appoint a meeting at the German embassy or consulate (or application centre if you find one closer to your home).

On the day of the interview, show up on time at the German embassy or consulate, with all the documents with you. Pay the visa fee, and then meet the consular officer with whom you will have a short conversation about you, your background, and the real purpose behind your planned travel to Germany.

Germany Family Reunion Visa Fee

You will have to pay a visa fee when you attend the interview in order for your application to be processed. Normally, a family reunion long-term visa (category D) costs 75,00 Euro for adults and for children up to 18 years 37,50 Euro.

Keep in mind that if you decide to withdraw your application after you pay the fee, you will not be able to get your money back. Also, if your visa application is rejected, you will not be reimbursed. If you decide to reapply for a German family reunification visa you will have to pay the fee again.

German Family Reunion Visa Processing Time

Depending on your case, the processing can take just a few weeks, to months. Therefore, take care to schedule an appointment on time. If at the time the embassy is receiving a lot of applications, your appointment will be scheduled for later, whereas if the applications received at the time are few, then you will get an appointment within several days.

Working in Germany on a Family Visa

According to German law every adult that comes to Germany on a Family Reunion visa and settles, should be permitted to work. However, there are a few conditions that the relative they are joining shall meet, as follows:

  • He/she has a residence permit authorizing employment for themselves.
  • He/she holds an EU Blue Card
  • He/she is in Germany as a researcher or a highly skilled person.

Of course, the immigrating family member also needs to have the necessary qualifications.

Other related information about moving and living in Germany: