Applying for German Permanent Residency with a Blue Card

Today marks my 33rd month in Germany. It may seem a little odd to count time in months if you aren’t the parent of a toddler, but as an expat, tracking the time of your residency makes by months more sense. With my particular visa, I’m eligible to apply for German permanent residency with my Blue Card once I’ve been employed for 33 months. If you currently hold an EU Blue Card and also want to apply for your settlement permit, read on!

Wondering “What is an EU Blue Card?”? Read my post on it here.

Applying for German Permanent Residency with a Blue Card

The Basics

Your EU Blue Card provides a temporary residence permit that is dependent on your employer/work contract. After a few years, you are then eligible to apply for an indefinite (or permanent) residency title. The Germans call this a “settlement permit”. I’ll refer to both permanent residency and settlement permit here, but simply, they mean the same thing: you can stay in Germany or the EU for an indefinite amount of time.

You are eligible to leverage your EU Blue Card into a settlement permit when you:

  • Hold a valid Blue Card AND
  • Either
    • Lived and worked in Germany for a consecutive 21 months and hold a B1 or higher language certificate AND
    • Lived and worked in Germany for a consecutive 33 months and can demonstrate simple German language skills AND
  • Have no criminal record

What are the benefits of a German settlement permit?

An EU Blue Card already offers quite a few benefits, including flexibility to work throughout the EU. But a German settlement permit offers two distinct perks:

  • An unrestricted right to live in Germany with your family (meaning, you are not tied to an employer or work contract terms)
  • The right to self-employment

There are two types of permanent residency available: a settlement permit and permanent EU residence permit. The only difference between the two is that the Permanent EU Residence Permit allows the holder to live and work anywhere within the EU. A settlement permit only pertains to living and working only within Germany.

Gaining either of the above allows you to reside in Germany for the rest of your life. However, it doesn’t mean that you are a German citizen, which excludes you (at the moment, anyway) from certain rights and responsibilities, like:

  • The right to vote (although there is an ardent campaign to give foreigners holding permanent residency the vote)
  • A German passport and the right to protection from German consulates while abroad
  • The potential responsibilities of jury duty and electoral assistance

Permanent residency application fees and costs

As with most visas, you should expect to pay a fee when you apply for your permanent residency. The amount of this fee will vary—a settlement permit generally costs 135 euros. If you’re self-employed, the fee is 200 euros. Highly-qualified people (inventors, scientists) have to pay 250 euros when applying for a settlement permit.

For Blue Card holders, the application fee costs (as of 01.09.2017) are:

  • For the granting of the settlement permit: 113,00 Euro
  • If the application should be rejected: 56.50 euros
  • For Turkish citizens: 28,80 Euro

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How to apply for your German settlement permit

Applying for your permanent residency with a Blue Card isn’t too difficult. The first thing you’ll want to do is get your paperwork in order. Refer to the section below for the list of documents you need.

Once you’ve done that, you can schedule your appointment. As the first point of resource, contact your HR representative. Hopefully, they have contacts at the Ausländerbehörde who can process your application without needing an appointment (other than to pick up your new permit).

Otherwise, you’ll want to contact your local Ausländerbehörde to set up an appointment. Keep in mind that one of the documents required below must be current as of 2 weeks of your appointment, and refresh your documents as necessary.

Required documents

One thing I’ve for sure learned when meeting with the German authorities is the more organized you are, the easier the appointment will go for you. Have everything neatly ordered, clipped together, and marked so that the processor can flip through it easily. Bonus points if you have copies of things like your passport and EU Blue Card already made.

  • Valid passport
  • Your current EU Blue Card
  • 1 current biometric photo – 35mm x 45mm— a photograph of yourself with a neutral expression and closed mouth, looking straight at the camera
  • Application Form for a Settlement Permit
  • Proof of income
    • Employment contract
    • Evidence of the net salary of the past six months
    • A certificate from your current employer (not older than 14 days)
  • Lease or purchase contract
    • The living space, as well as the monthly rent or the living costs of the own property (house or flat), must be proven
    • If you hold household bills in your name, I recommend including these in your application file
  • Proof of retirement
    • Pension information (Renten-Information or Renten-Auskunft) of the German pension insurance OR
    • Proof of entitlement to comparable pension benefits from an insurance or pension institution (for example, if you have a private retirement fund through your employer)
  • Health insurance – either
    • insurance card of your statutory health insurance OR
    • your private health insurance plan’s insurance policy
  • Proof of main residence in Berlin
    • Certificate of registration of the apartment (Anmeldung – confirmation of registration) OR
    • Rental contract and confirmation of receipt of the landlord
    • Note, while the official website said either/or for the documents above, best practice would be to have both

Key vocabulary:

  • Niederlassungserlaubnis für Inhaber einer Blauen Karte EU – Settlement Permit for Holders of the EU Blue Card

Resources for gaining German permanent residency with a Blue Card: