Family reunion

Family reunion

Family reunification is an influx of family members to a person who is already in Germany in order to reunite the family or maintain the family unit. The latecomers receive their own residence permit. Family reunification is usually possible at the same time or at a later date, even after the birth of a foreign child in Germany. 

The way in which a family can be reunited in Germany depends on various factors. A visa for family reunification to third-country nationals is possible if the family member already living in Germany has a residence permit, has sufficient living space and their livelihood is secured.

A distinction is made between spousal reunification, child reunificationand the reunification of other family members.


In principle, it is possible for spouses to obtain a residence permit for the purpose of living together in marriage. A distinction must be made here as to whether the subsequent immigration is to take place with a German or a foreigner.

Spousal reunification with a German

There are fewer requirements to be met for the subsequent immigration of a German spouse than for a foreigner. The first requirement is a valid marriage.
In addition, the spouse joining the foreigner must provide proof of basic German language skills.

Spousal reunification with a foreigner

Joining a foreign spouse in Germany requires further conditions. In particular, the spouse already living in Germany must be entitled to reside in Germany and have one of the following residence permits:

  • Settlement permit or EU permanent residence permit
  • EU Blue Card
  • ICT card
  • Residence permit

In addition, the following requirements must be met:

  • Basic German language skills
  • As a rule, livelihood must be secured

Exceptions from language certificate

  • in the case of reunification with holders of an EU Blue Card
  • in the case of reunification with highly qualified persons(Section 18c (3) Residence Act), researchers(Section 18f Residence Act) and self-employed persons(Section 21 Residence Act);
  • Person entitled to asylum(§ 25 para. 1 or § 26 para. 3 AufenthG) with whom you were already married in your home country before your partner fled to Germany;
  • recognized refugee or person entitled to protection(§ 25 para. 2 or § 26 para. 3 AufenthG), with whom you were already married in your home country before your partner went to Germany;
  • Permanent residents from other EU countries(§ 38a AufenthG)
  • If the spouses' need for integration is recognizably low (e.g. spouses with university degrees).
  • in the case of reunification with nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand or the United States of America;
  • if it is not possible or not reasonable for the spouse to make efforts to acquire simple German language skills before entering the country(hardship regulation);
  • if the spouse is unable to demonstrate simple knowledge of the German language due to a physical, mental or psychological illness or disability;
  • You do not want to stay in Germany permanently.

What does "basic knowledge of German" mean?

Basic German language skills are knowledge of the German language at level A1 of the "Common European Framework of Reference for Languages". This means that you should be able to understand and use familiar, everyday expressions and very simple sentences. You should also be able to write a little in German, e.g. on forms from the authorities (name, address, nationality, etc.).

The German mission abroad, where you apply for the visa, decides on the recognition of your language certificate on a case-by-case basis. If it is evident during your personal interview at the embassy or consulate general that you have the required basic knowledge of German, no special proof is required.

Proof of "simple knowledge of German

You must prove the language skills before entering the country when applying for the visa. For this purpose, you must enclose a language certificate with the application documents. We will be happy to advise and support you in this process.

The following language certificates are currently accepted by the immigration authorities:

  • "Start Deutsch 1" from the Goethe-Institut or telc GmbH
  • "Grundstufe Deutsch 1" of the Austrian Language Diploma (ÖSD)
  • "TestDaF" of the TestDaF-Institut e. V.

Residence permit for children

Whether a child receives a visa and subsequently a residence permit for family reunification depends in particular on whether the child is a minor and whether they are to join Germans or foreigners.

Child reunification with Germans

Children living abroad can usually join Germans without any problems. Child reunification with Germans is possible without any preconditions, provided the child is a minor.

Child reunification with foreigners

Joining a foreigner living in Germany is subject to further conditions:

  • As a rule, the livelihood must be secured.
  • The child must prove German language skills (C1) if he/she is already over 16 years old.
  • After the age of 18, the child is no longer considered dependent on the personal care of his or her parents and is treated as an "other family member."
  • The parents must have one of the residence titles mentioned in 32 para. 1 AufenthG .

Parental reunification with minor children

Parents can join the child in the context of family reunification in order to exercise the so-called personal care. The child must be dependent on the personal care of the parents. It is also necessary that the child is a minor. Parental reunification with children of full age is only possible in so-called "hardship cases".

EU citizens

Insofar as the move is to be made to an EU citizen, special legal provisions apply. Not only EU citizens themselves benefit from Union law, but also the family members, regardless of their own nationality.

It should be noted that, unlike EU citizens, family members require a visa for longer stays (three months or more). However, the national regulations do not apply, only the requirements for family reunification with EU citizens:

The original beneficiary, i.e. the person to whom the reunification is to take place, must be a national of a member state of the EU and enjoy freedom of movement.

Special features of the EU Blue Card

For holders of an EU Blue Card, a number of special features apply in connection with family reunification.

As already mentioned above, relatives of holders of this residence permit do not have to be able to prove their knowledge of German. The proof of sufficient living space that is normally required is also no longer necessary. As the EU Blue Card is linked to a minimum salary, there is also no longer a check as part of the family reunification process as to whether the family members' livelihood is secured.

In addition, holders of an EU Blue Card can bring not only their children and their spouse, but also their parents and even their spouse's parents, i.e. their parents-in-law, to Germany.

This is how we help you:

Despite the central importance of marriage and family for society and despite the protection of marriage and family enshrined in the German Basic Law, foreign missions and immigration authorities are making it considerably more difficult for foreigners to reunite with their families. The conditions for family reunification are becoming increasingly strict, which is why it is well worth contacting a lawyer experienced in residence law.

We, the lawyers at RT & Partner Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH, are very familiar with the various procedures and applications that are required for family reunification. We assist clients from all over the world and enable them to successfully apply for family reunification in Germany and obtain the residence permit to which they are entitled.

We are also happy to advise you on any family reunification problems that may arise and will work to ensure that you can be with your family in accordance with applicable law.