Foreigners from non-EU member states wanting to stay in Germany for over three months (90 days) are required to obtain a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel). There are two types of residence permits foreigners can obtain in Germany: the limited residence permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung) and the unlimited settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis). Both types of residence permits can be obtained with the local Foreigners Office ((Ausländerbehörde) if the person requesting it has a valid visa. However, U.S., Canadian, Australian, Japanese, Israeli, New Zealand and Swiss citizens do not require a visa to enter Germany.
The temporary residence permit in Germany (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) in the most employed type of license and has one-year validity usually. German Limited residence permits are mainly issued for educational, trading, humanitarian or familial reasons. If a foreign citizen applies for a temporary residence permit but also wants to work in Germany he or she must notify the authorities. The renewal of the temporary residence permit is usually done depending on the nationality, occupation or, in case of employment, on the work contract.
The EU Blue Card incorporates a residence and a work permit and it is destined for highly specialized employees only. The EU Blue Card has at most four-year validity and can be obtained by holders of an university degree earning around 48,000 EUR per year. The EU Blue Card is also the easiest step toward obtaining a permanent residence permit in Germany.
In order to apply for a permanent residence permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) or settlement permit in Germany a foreign citizen must live for five uninterrupted years in the country or in case the foreign citizen married a German citizen the settlement license can be issued after three years provided other conditions are fulfilled. Some of these conditions are:
Germany has also adopted the EU long-term residence permit that allows foreign citizens to live and work in Germany or other EU member states.
First of all foreign citizens must register with the local police department (Einwohnermeldeamt or Bürgeramt) or the local municipality (Rathaus) before applying for a residence permit. A registration card will be issued by the police department (polizeiliche Anmeldebestätigung).
The following documents must be provided upon registration:
Together with the application form released by the police the following documents must be supplied for obtaining the residence permit: