Migration and Citizenship Law

A globalised economy can only function together with global economic migration. The German economy must assert itself in the international competition for the best skilled employees and entrepreneurs. Thus, the German economic immigration law (keyword: "Einwanderungsgesetz") is the focus of political discussions and subject to constant change. For our clients, we find appropriate solutions with German diplomatic representations, regional immigration authorities, Chambers of Industry and Commerce, and the German Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit). In many ways, economic migration law has an influence on corporate law, and vice versa. Economic migration also requires a deep understanding of the client's existing corporate structures and those that must be created.

We will advise and represent you in the following situations:

Business and visit travel

On the basis of a mere Schengen-Visa or during a visa free stay you have a number of opportunities for economic activity in Germany, i.a. as a business traveller or in a management position of a German company, as long as your stays do not exceed certain time frames.

Employer and Employees (Corporate Migration, Labour Migration)

Skilled personnel and employers get together across national boundaries. The more and more liberalised labour migration law has a substantive influence on the number of foreign workers available in Germany. Multinational companies dispatch their employees worldwide. Corporate Migration allows the integration of human resources from foreign concern parts.

Self-employed and free-lancer (Business Migration)

Self-employed, investors and free-lancers from all over the world have the chance to reside in Germany. The rules of Business Immigration have been constantly simplified during recent years (details see below).

Job-seekers, recognition of foreign qualifications

Since 2012 graduates of foreign universities may get a residence permit for up to six months for seeking a job in Germany. A residence permit for up to 18 months is granted to get recognition of foreign qualifications in Germany.

Students, apprentices, pupils and language courses

Foreign students have a relatively free access to German universities. An apprenticeship depends on a needs assessment by the German Federal Employment Agency. However, a residence permit allowing to attend German school education is granted only in exceptional cases, e.g. if the school has a special focus of specialisation. Language courses may usually be attended up to 12 months in Germany.

Families

Most cases of migration concern also family members. Usually, spouses and minor children may follow without problems. Other family members, such as parents of grownups enjoy the right of subsequent immigration only under limited conditions, e.g. to avoid particular hardship.

Pensioners and Privatiers

The residence of pensioners and privatiers with sufficient property is only rudimentarily regulated in German migration law as so called “justified case”. That requires an individual review, preparation and communication with the competent local authorities.

Naturalization

A foreigner who has been legally ordinarily resident in Germany for eight years is entitled to naturalization. This time frame is shortened to six years in case of good German language skills and even to three years in case of marriages with Germans. As a rule one has to give up the previous citizenship. This condition shall be waived if it would entail particularly difficult conditions, such as substantial economic disadvantages for the foreigner.

Liberalisation of business immigration to Germany

When entrepreneurs from a non-EU country wish to invest in Germany and develop business projects, the question regularly arises if a residence authorisation is required for this economic activity in Germany, and how it can be obtained. A residence authorisation will be required no later than when the foreign company is staying longer than 90 days in a half year in Germany to carry out the project. This applies even more so if the entrepreneur and his/her family wish to relocate their main ordinary residence from abroad to Germany.

In these cases, foreign entrepreneurs will mostly work as self-employed in Germany, for example, as managing directors of a GmbH in which they hold at least 50% of the shares. The entrepreneur must submit a meaningful business plan to show that there is  'an economic interest or a regional need'  and that  'the activity is expected to have positive effects on the economy' . In addition, the financing of the venture should be backed up by equity or a loan commitment.

Interestingly, these immigration rules for entrepreneurs have been significantly liberalised in recent years. An initially required standard investment of €1 million was reduced, first to €500,000, then to € 250,000, and cancelled entirely in mid-2012. In the past, at least 10 jobs, had to be created. This number was later reduced to five. Currently, there is no prescribed number of jobs that have to be created. Since mid-2012, the 'economic interest' is no longer required to be 'overriding' and the 'regional need' is no longer required to be 'special'.  This has made it easier to obtain a residence authorisation. The trends show that Germany continues to be open to foreign entrepreneurs.

Lawyers for migration law at Derra, Meyer & Partners

Lawyers specialising in migration law at Derra, Meyer & Partners will advise and represent you during the entire proceedings to obtain a residential permit. Our experts have many years of professional experience and can also communicate with you in English, Russian, Polish or Italian. In case of overlaps with related fields of law, such as labour law, corporate law, tax law, or criminal law, specialists in our law firm can be included in the handling of your case to ensure that comprehensive, multidisciplinary legal advice is provided even in complex situations.

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