Residence of EU-citizens and their family members

The residence of citizens of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic  Area (EEA) - Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland - is regulated through the General Freedom of Movement for EU Citizens. The citizens of the EU are called „EU citizens“. The Act on the General Freedom of Movement for EU Citizens is based on European agreements and guidelines.

Freedom of movement

EU-citizens and their family members have the right to freedom of movement. This right to move freely within the European Union comprises the rights to enter, reside and work - as an employee or self-employed - in any EU member state. Non-gainfully employed EU-citizens (e. g. students)  and their family members may only live in the Germany if they and their family members are sufficiently covered by health insurance and have sufficient resources to support themselves and their family members. The immigration office may request for proof of these pre-requisitions.

Since 29 January 2013, the certificate of free movement has been abolished without replacement.  No other paper to certify the freedom of movement will be issued by the Immigration Office.

Entry / visa

EU-citizens have the right to enter Germany without a visa and reside here without any further pre-requisitions. Furthermore, they have the right to search for a job for 6 months. Family members, who are accompanying them and have a non-EU citizenship only, have to apply for a visa but the visa has to be issued immediately (even directly at the border) free of cost. A violation of this duty to have a visa may not result in a denial of further residence, according to the European Court of Justice, if the right of freedom of movement is existent.

Freedom of movement certification

If the residence after an entry is intended to last longer than three months, EU-citizens just have to register at the registration office. The immigration office may request that the passport or ID-card is shown as well as a proof of employment. Self-employed EU-citizens may show the business registration as a proof.

Residence card for family members

Family members of EU-citizens receive ex officio a „residence permit for family members of EU-citizens“ within 6 months as well. The immigration office may request proof of identity, marriage or the type of relationship. Until the residence card is issued, the family member receives a form which states that the necessary information has been given. It is specifically defined, who is regarded as a „family member“. E. g. children, who are not yet 21 years old as well as parents and children who are older than 21 years - if sufficient resources exist to support them - account as „family members“.

Long-term residence permit

After five years of legal residence in Germany, EU-citizens, their family members and spouses receive a long-term residence permit - which exists independently of other requirements. The immigration office issues a request for a long-term residence permit.

Loss of freedom of movement

Until one receives the long-term residence permit, the immigration office may state in a written letter, that the freedom of movement is no longer applicable. In this case, the commensurability of this has to be proven. After gaining the long-term residence permit, it may only be no longer applicable for reasons such as public order offence, security or disease. 

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