German permanent residence permit allows non-EU/EEA citizens to stay in Germany unlimited period of time. Finally, you don’t need to renew your residency each year – you can stay as long as you want.
Requirements for a German permanent residence permit in 2023 vary depending on the current residence permit type of the applicant. Generally, one should have a German residence permit for the last five years. This period can be reduced to 21 months if you have a EU Blue Card.
A permanent residence permit is the goal of many immigrants and expats when moving to Germany. German laws allow you to shorten a standard waiting time from five years to up to 21 months in some cases. Learn in this article which requirements apply particularly to your case and how to receive a permanent residence permit in the fastest way.
Main requirements for a German permanent residence permit
Generally, when applying for a permanent residence permit, candidates need to prove that they have lived and worked for at least five years in Germany.
Additionally, they need to know some German and be able to prove it with the certificate.
According to German immigration law, a foreigner can be granted a permanent residence permit if:
- They have had a German residence permit for five years
- Their livelihood is secured
- They have paid for German statutory pension insurance for at least 60 months
- They are permitted to work or to be self-employed in Germany and they have respective permits
- They have sufficient knowledge of the German language
- They have basic knowledge of the legal and social system and of life in Germany
- They have sufficient living space for themselves and family members living in the same household
If you are married, it’s sufficient if one partner has paid the pension insurance contributions and is entitled to work in Germany.
These requirements might sound more general, here is a further explanation:
- You must earn enough to sustain yourself and your family without using the government’s help.
- You must have a living space that is large enough to accommodate you and your family members.
- During your stay in Germany, you have worked in a job that correlates to your qualifications or degree.
- You can speak the German language at least on a B1 level.
- You must pass the “Life in Germany” test to prove that you have sufficient knowledge about German culture and legal and social order.
Different rules apply for holders of different resident permits in Germany, e.g.:
- EU Blue Card holders
- People with completed university or vocational training in Germany
- Highly qualified professionals
If you fall into one of those categories, you have a chance to receive a permanent residency in Germany even earlier and with fewer necessary conditions.
PR with EU Blue Card
Foreigners who hold an EU Blue Card and have a basic knowledge of German can receive a permanent residency already after 33 months of living and working in Germany.
And candidates who speak German sufficiently can get it after just 21 months.
Requirements for EU Blue Card holders are:
- You have been employed in a qualified job for at least 33 months, during which you paid contributions to the statutory pension insurance.
- You have basic German language skills (at least A1 level), but if you speak German at the B1 level, the required time of 33 months can be reduced to 21 months.
- You have basic knowledge of the legal and social order in Germany.
- You can provide proof of adequate living space.
Do you have an EU Blue Card or planning to get one? The article “How to get a PR in Germany after the Blue Card” will be helpful to read!
Permanent residence permit for skilled workers
If you received your residence permit as a qualified, skilled worker. In that case, you could receive a permanent residence permit after four years of working in Germany as a skilled worker or as a researcher.
Furthermore, you need to have paid for German pension insurance for at least 48 months and have sufficient knowledge of the German language.
PR for graduates of universities or vocational schools
Have you successfully completed university or vocational training in Germany? Special conditions also apply to you when it comes to applying for a settlement permit, you can receive it earlier.
For this, you need:
- successfully complete vocational training or university in Germany
- have a residence permit for work for at least two years
- have paid pension insurance contributions for 24 months
- have sufficient knowledge of the German language
The job where you have been working must match with qualifications gained in Germany.
PR for highly qualified professionals
There are even some cases when a permanent residence permit can be obtained without the need to live previously in Germany. However, it’s only possible in individual cases and for highly qualified professionals.
These professionals should be essential for Germany and the German economy. For example, scientists with special technical knowledge or teachers in high-level positions.
They can get a permanent residence permit upon entering Germany.
- They must proof of academic qualifications.
- Living costs in Germany should be covered without having to use support from the government.
Moreover, candidates should check the general requirements for German residence permits since they will apply as well.
PR for self-employed
Foreigners who are self-employed in Germany can also enjoy special rights on obtaining the permanent residence permit earlier. They can receive it after three years of living and working in Germany.
The following requirements apply:
- You are earning your livelihood as self-employed
- You have a valid residence permit for self-employment
- You can prove that you can cover the costs of living for yourself and your dependents
PR for German family members
Spouses of German nationals can receive a permanent residence permit after living in Germany for three years. They also need to present a sufficient knowledge of German.
How long does it take to get permanent residency in Germany?
The period until you can apply for permanent residency in Germany depends on the type of residence permit you currently have. You can receive a German permanent residence permit:
- After four years as a skilled worker
- After four years as a researcher
- After two years as a skilled worker with a German university degree or vocational training
- After 33 months as a EU Blue Cardholder (after 21 months with B1 German language certificate)
- After three years as a self-employed
- After five years as a freelancer
- After three years as a family member of a German national
- After five years as an asylum seeker or refugee (the period can be shortened to three years)
How to apply for a German permanent residence permit?
Application for the German permanent residence permit is relatively straightforward and goes as follows:
- Download or pick up the application form for permanent residency (Antrag auf Erteilung der Niederlassungserlaubnis) from the immigration office and make an appointment.
- Collect all necessary papers. See the full list here. Pick your health insurance.
- Attend the appointment and interview.
- Pay the application fee.
You have to apply for permanent residency before your current residence permit expires.
The cost of your permanent residence permit depends on the current type of permit you have:
- Skilled worker – €113
- Freelancer or self-employed – €124
- Highly qualified professional – €147
- Turkish citizen – €28.80
German permanent residence permit – benefits
German settlement permit has a wide range of benefits, such as unlimited validity, freedom of movement in the EU, and more. You can read the in-depth article here.