ADVICE & REPRESENTATION
IN GERMAN IMMIGRATION PROCEDURES
Specialized in immigration law
Helping people move to and stay in Germany is our business. We understand and support corporate immigration plans and provide friendly, comprehensive, up-to-date immigration services for individuals.
Please find general information on German immigration and citizenship law and Q&As below.
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The blue card is a residence title for certain highly qualified professionals. There are various requirements in terms qualification and annual salary. We can explain what those requirements are, assess them, help establishing their evidence and represent in all relevant procedures.
Citizens of certain countries who do not require national visa (e.g. US citizens) would still need a residence permit, if they want to stay longer than their visa free period. The grounds for residence permits are for example studies, work or family reunification. I advise clients in respect of the requirements and the procedure.
VISA (SCHENGEN & NATIONAL)
German immigration law requires visa from citizens of certain countries to enter Germany or at least to stay here longer. Visa are issued by embassies or consulates. Short-term stays up to 90 days are governed by the rules of the Schengen Akquis, whereas longer stays require so called national visa. We help with both kinds.
EU LAW & CITIZENSHIP
EU citizens and their family members may stay in Germany because of the freedom of movement. However, there are various conditions, which I can explain and discuss with my clients.
When foreigners have lived for a number of years in Germany, they might want to apply for German citizenship. I consult in those questions and represent my clients in front of the authorities.
INFORMATION ON GERMAN IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP LAW
The decision on the interpretation of German immigration and citizenship law is effectively taken by judges. The ranking of courts in that respect are the European Court of Justice (effectively where EU legislation is the basis of a German law), the German Federal Constitutional Court (which should take into account the European Court of Human Rights' decisions), the German Federal Administrative Court, the upper administrative courts and the local administrative courts (Berlin having a prominent local administrative court in immigration matters, since it is the court where all visa cases against the German Federal Foreign Office are handled).
While judges have a certain power to interprete the law, there are a few common interpretation rules in German legal practice. Four rules have been widely received in German legal literature, ie the literal, the systematic, the historic and the teleological. Other relevant rules are the interpretations in line with the constitution, the German Basic Law, and EU law.
The rules on administrative procedures of immigration and citizenship matters can be found in the administrative procedures act of the German federal state (Verwaltungsverfahrensgesetz), where an authority is located. When it comes to an embassy or a consulate general, the federal act can be referred to in an analogous way, although it is not directly applicable.
Finally, Schengen visa are governed by the EU's Visa Code, German immigration law is governed by the Residence Act as well as the Freedom of Movement Act and citizenship law is governed by the Nationality Act. The basis of various rules in German immigration law lies in EU directives. In addition, there are several relevant German statutory instruments, most notably the "Aufenthaltsverordnung", the Ordinance on the Employment of Foreigners and the "Integrationsverordnung".
Again, court decisions on the interpretation of that code, those acts and statutory instruments, more so according to their ranking, are legally relevant.
However, the everyday approval and denial of applications follow yet more granular guidance. The ressource for all countries of the Schengen-zone on the issuance of Schengen visa is the so called "Visa Code Handbook I" by the EU Commission. The ressource for the practical issuance of Schengen visa by German embassies or consulate generals and long-term national visa is the "Visumhandbuch" of the Foreign Office. There is also guidance by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior on the Residence Act, the "Allgemeine Verfahrensvorschrift zum Aufenthaltsgesetz", and on the Nationality Act, the "Allgemeine Verwaltungsvorschrift zum Staatsangehörigkeitsrecht" as well as the "Vorläufige Anwendungshinweise des Bundesministeriums des Innern zum Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz". The Federal Employment Agency needs to agree in certain cases of employment and has issued guidance on how to interprete the Residence Act and the Ordinance on the Employment of Foreigners in the "Fachliche Weisungen Aufenthaltsgesetz und Beschäftigungsverordnung". Since the immigration authorities are under the political responsibilty of the government of each federal state, some of those governments have issued further internal guidance.
In general, the place of residence of an applicant decides which embassy, consulate general or immigration authority is the competent authority to receive and process an application. On the website of the embassy, consulate general or immigration authority more information and forms may be found.
The knowledge and application of those rules and experience with the procedures is what I am offering.
Disclaimer: Here I was expressing my general understanding of German immigration and citizenship law (excluding asylum and refugee law), which might not be up-to-date and may not be relied upon for an individual case. It is meant to be a description of legal methods and an account of certain sources.
MY VISION AND EXPERTISE
II want to use my legal skills, my international experience and my personal network to create value and to help others.
I studied in Passau and Göttingen (Germany), in Bangor and Coventry (UK) as well as in Shanghai. I was educated in Germany and in Colombia. I have worked for the International Organization for Migration in Beijing, for the investment bank Berenberg in London, for the auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hamburg and for the human rights organization Memorial in Moscow. I have grown up bilingual German and Spanish and I now also speak Chinese, Russian, French and Italian.
I am an immigration and tax lawyer, similar to an immigration or tax attorney in the US or an immigration or tax solicitor in England & Wales.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
1. What are the requirements for German "work permits"?
In German immigration law there are no "work permits", there are however visa or other residence titles that allow to work. The legal functioning is as follows. A residence title would be a so called "adminstrative act" in the sense of section 35 of the German Administrative Procedures Act. Certain residence titles include a statutory permission to, that is to say that the Residence Act provides the permission. In other cases, the permission to work is a so called "additional stipulation" to the administrative act in the sense of section 36 of the Administrative Procedures Act.
So, if you would like to work in Germany and are not an EU- or EEA-citizen, you would need a residence title, which includes the permission to work.
2. What are the requirements for visa which allow to work?
There are different types of visa which could allow to work. The main categories by residence titles are Blue Cards EU according to section 18b sub-section 2 Residence Act, residence permits for skilled workers according to section 18b sub-section 1 Residence Act and ICT-cards according to section 19 Residence Act. The special requirements for each can be found in the Residence Act, while general requirements are provided by section 5 Residence Act.
3. What are the requirements to obtain German citizenship?
There are different ways to obtain German citizenship. The main ways are the acquisition by birth according to section Citizenship Act, the entitlement to naturalization according to section 10 Citizenship Act and the discretionary naturlization according to sections 8 and 9 Citizenship Act. The requirements for each can be found in the Citizenship Act.
4. What is the difference between visa, residence title and residence permit in German immigration law?
Section 4 sub-section 1 Residence Act provides that "residence title" is a generic term for various permissions to reside in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany. A "visa" can be one of them and visas are specified in section 6 Residence Act. "Residence permits" are the most common type of "residence titles" and can be granted for different reasons, eg study, economic activity, humanitarian and family reunification, which are all governed by the Residence Act.
Disclaimer: In this Q&A section I am expressing my specific understanding of German immigration and citizenship law, which might not be up-to-date and may not be relied upon for an individual case. Where I am using capital letters for an institution or a legal text, more information on them can be found in the section above on general information about German immigration and citizenship law.