Many expats come to Berlin for different reasons, such as visiting the country or begin a new life and/or finding a job. If you have lived in the city or any other city in Germany, for a long duration of time and have secured a long-term job, you are likely eligible for a German Permanent Residence Permit. With this type of permit, you will have not only the choice but also the right to remain in the country indefinitely. You will also have unlimited access to the job sector.
Long-Term Living in Berlin
A lot of foreigners find moving to Berlin comes with many benefits, which results in the country receiving thousands of expats yearly. Some of the reasons why Berlin is home to many expats that opt for a permanent residence permit include;
- The economy in Berlin is thriving.
- High quality of life.
- Rent is stable and favorable (considering the rent freeze in 2020)
- Abundance of landmarks and places of interest offering many leisure activities.
Which Visa or Permit Do You Need to Live Permanently in Berlin, Germany?
Different documents offer different possibilities in terms of the duration you can stay in Berlin. Since it is easy to confuse all these documents, here is a useful overview that will help you understand the difference between the following documents.Understanding the differences between EU and German Permanent Residence Permit, Settlement Permits, Temporary Residence Permit, and Tourist Visa.
The Tourist Visa
This is a type of visa that will legally allow you to stay in Germany for at least, and not more than 90 days. With this visa, you can travel within the country as much as you like, however, if you need to stay longer than 90 days, you will have to apply for a residence permit.
The Temporary Residence Permit
A Temporary Residence Permit is sometimes referred to as a Limited Residence Permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis). Just like the name insinuates, the permit will only guarantee your stay for a limited amount of time. The official time is one year, however, it can be extended if you still fulfill all the requirements and not changed since the first time of application.
The Settlement Permit
You will find this permit in the Immigration Act as the second title of residence. With this permit, you will be valid to have a permanent stay as you look for gainful employment. Both the Eu and German Permanent Residence Permits are types of long term settlement permits.
The EU Permanent Residence Permit
The German Residence Act, section 9a states that a non-EU national can apply to live in Germany unlimitedly and have access to employment as long as, they have been in the country for at least five years and have been contributing to the pension and health systems. The main difference between this permit and the German Permanent Residence Permit is with this permit one can freely move across and live in any of the countries that are members of the European Union.
The German Permanent Residence Permit
If you want to live in Germany for as long as you would like with no legal issues, you should consider applying for the Permanent Residence Permit, otherwise known as the Settlement Permit or Niederlassungserlaubnis in German. Such a permit allows you to settle, work, and permanently live in Berlin just like any other resident. You can also travel in and out of the country with no questions asked, although there might be restrictions on how long to stay out of the country.
People with better access to this permit are those who have had the Temporary Residence Permit for a period of time or those with an EU Blue Card. With that being said, every applicant needs also to prove that they have had a stable and legal job within the five years, approved by the Federal Employment Agency and paying taxes and other governmental contributions. One also needs to be proficient with the German language since the requirement is quite stringent.Once you will be able to secure a German Permanent Residence Permit, your spouse and kids will be allowed to join you in Berlin. However, they will be given a Temporary Residence Permit at first, and then after a few years, they too can qualify for the permanent residence permit.
Who is Eligible for the Permanent Residence Permit in Germany?
Anyone in the following categories can apply and get considered for the German Permanent Residence Permit. Take note that these categories are not relevant for the other types of permits, mentioned earlier in the article.
1. Holders of the EU Blue Card
People with an EU Blue Card are eligible to receive a German Permanent Residence Permit after 33 months. Some of the requirements include being employed for at least five years while contributing to statutory schemes. However, people who are proficient with the German language can get their permits as early as 21 months.
2. German University Graduates
Once you have graduated from any of the German Universities, you are eligible to apply for a permanent permit not less than two years after graduation. You will need proof of employment and contribution to statutory schemes for the 24 months.
3. Professionals Considered as Highly-Qualified
If you are a highly-qualified professional and have fulfilled all general requirements, you can immediately get a German Permanent Residence Permit. These people include;
- Technically skilled researchers
- Prominent teachers and scientific personnel
Proof is needed from the Federal Employment Agency in this case.
4. Entrepreneurs or the Self-employed
Individuals in the self-employment category get to receive a Permanent Residence Permit after only three years. One needs to have a residence permit and have achieved its purpose within the three years of temporary residence. You will also need to prove that you are financially stable or can sustain yourself indefinitely.
Applying for a Permanent Residence Permit in Berlin, Germany
First, you need to secure an appointment with your local foreigner's office. This information can be accessed on the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. Some areas will allow you to book your appointment in advance while others will not.You will need to prove the following to get a German Permanent Residence Permit:
- You can take care of your living requirements and sustain a living without help from public funds.
- You have a record of payment to the statutory pension insurance for 48 months either voluntarily or as a mandatory contribution.
- You need to pass the Life in Germany test to prove that you have adequate knowledge of the German language according to the B1 level of the Common European Framework of References.
- You should have adequate living space for yourself and your family.
If you qualify as per the above requirements, you can head to your nearest foreigner's office for further instructions. Find the Federal Foriegner’s Office in Berlin.
The Application Process for a Permanent Residence Permit in Berlin
As you head to the foreigner’s office, make sure you get an application form with you. The form is accessible for download on the foreigner's office website, or you might be given a hard copy at the offices. During the application process a number of documents are required;
- A valid passport
- Proof that you have sufficient income - If you are not in the working-class category, you will need proof of pension. For people receiving other funds such as parental leave assistance or child money, you will also require documents of evidence for that.
- Biometric photo.
- German Health insurance
- Pension contribution documentation
- Rental agreements
- Integration course
- Registration confirming main address.
If you are an employee, make sure you have the following documents:
- Proof of employment contract
- A clearance certificate for Taxes
- At least three salary statements for the most recent months
If you are Self-employed you will need:
- A form that confirms the source of income
- A clearance certificate for Taxes
- Business registrations forms
- A Chamber of Commerce audit carried out by a tax consultant.
- You will find an officer at the offices who will check to make sure you submit all the needed documents. As long as you meet all conditions, your application will be considered, and soon you will have your copy of the German Permanent Residence Permit.
You will get official confirmation, once your application has gone through and is successful. If for any reason you do not get a successful report, you will also receive your status in writing with information on what to do, such as reapplying for reconsideration.
German Permanent Residence Permit FAQs
How long does it take for a request to get processed?
The average time to process a request is between five to six weeks.If you have a temporary permit, you should visit a foreigner's offices at least four to six weeks before the permit expires. Also, consider booking an appointment in advance for this.
What is the cost of getting a German Permanent Residence Permit?
There are different charges to getting a permanent settlement permit, depending on one's job category. Generally, it will cost around EUR 113.00. Self-employed individuals pay around EUR 124.00 while it will cost the highly-qualified individuals about EUR 147.00.
Is there an expiry date on a German Permanent Residence Permit?
The permit is termed as a permanent one, however, if you leave the country and stay away for more than six consecutive months, you might be liable to expire. People with the EU Permanent Residence Permit will lose their permits if they leave the EU zone for a period of 12 months consequently.