Newsflash! On April 10, I became an official permanent resident of Germany! If you’re the holder of an EU Blue Card, you know that one of this visa’s top benefits is the early eligibility to switch from employment-dependent residence permit to permanent residency. So, here’s how to get your German settlement permit.
Blue Card holders in Germany who can prove B1-level competency in German can apply for their settlement permits after 21 months; everyone else can apply at their 33-month mark. Compared to the 5-6 years it takes other visa holders to hit the same milestone, and it’s obvious why this is such a perk. But, as with many steps in the visa and residence permit application, there’s not a lot of information about what to expect when getting your German Settlement Permit.
I’ve just finished going through the cycle, and here’s everything I learned (and wanted to know) about applying for my German settlement permit. (Or Niederlassungserlaubnis, as the Germans so elegantly call it).
I’ve written another post about preparing the application for your settlement permit—read it here!
How to Get Your German Settlement Permit
How long does getting your (actual) German settlement permit take?
When you fill out your application form, the form itself states that it might take some time to process. I submitted my application around December 11th, a week after I hit 33 months in Germany. I figured that with the Christmas holidays, it would be February-March before I heard anything back. So I was pleasantly surprised to see a letter from the Ausländerbehörde in my mailbox as of the first week of January. Overall, my timeline looked roughly like this…
How to Get Your German Settlement Permit: A Timeline
When I was going through this process, what I wanted to know most was: How long does it take? To answer the question for you, my application timeline looked like this:
December 11: Submitted Settlement Permit application and accompanying documents via email through my HR department contact
January 5: Received request for follow-up information via post
January 7: Submitted follow-up information via email
January 7: (SAME DAY!) Received appointment for end of February interview via email
February 25: Attended in-person interview at my local Ausländerbehörde
March 23: Received final decision via post.
April 10: Returned to Ausländerbehörde to pick up my new permit
How to prepare for your German settlement permit interview
To be honest, the interview portion of the German settlement permit application was what I found most daunting. And that’s mostly because I couldn’t find any information about it anywhere. I practiced my German, preparing for a worst-case scenario of navigating complex bureaucratic conversation. Luckily, the “interview” wasn’t really an interview, but rather just an appointment where the woman at the Ausländerbehörde looked over my paperwork, verified a few details, and processed my documents. You will need to speak German for this part, though—so if your German is shaky, bring a friend.
What documents you need to bring for your settlement permit interview
For my settlement permit interview appointment, I had to bring my:
- Current German Blue Card AND Zusatzblatt (the accompanying green paper)
- A recent (as of 6 months) biometric photo
- Fee of 113 euros – cash and Girocard accepted
- Lohnbogen / Paystub summary for any months in between submitting my application and the appointment date (I brought January and February)
Note: These are additional documents to the application paperwork I submitted in December. Find the checklist of all the documents you need to bring to process your German settlement permit here.
At the interview, you’ll get fingerprinted, and the processor takes your photo and additional documents for your application file. Then I was told that I should hear back by April 25 (two months from my appointment date).
Nearly a month later, on March 23 I got a letter stating that my new residence permit was processed. It contained a special pin code that needed to be used with a downloadable app, which I can now use to verify my identity. I’m unclear still what precisely this is used for, but sure! Looks legit. A week later, another letter came, this time stating an appointment date and time window for me to reappear at the Ausländerbehörde.
Finalizing the process
On April 10, I appeared at the Ausländerbehörde to finalize my settlement permit and pick up my new Aufenthaltstitel. I came into the waiting room, took a number, and waited my turn. When it came, I handed over my passport, Blue Card, and Zasuatzblatt (the green paper) to the official. He then sent me back to the Warteraum to wait. Fifteen minutes later, my number came up again and I picked up my documents. You don’t get anything added to your passport—they simply replaced my Blue Card with a settlement permit card (though they look virtually the same). And now if I need to do any bureaucratic process, I should go to the Bürgeramt, rather than Ausländerbehörde.
The significance comes in the names of these ministries: Bürger = citizen. Ausländer = foreigner.
Thank you so much for writing an amazing article and providing such valuable information that’s not available on the internet!
I have my settlement permit appointment coming up next week and I had some questions.
– During the interview what kind of questions they asked you? I German is not that great so I wanted to prepare for all possible questions
Hey! Thanks for reading. The “interview” I had in Berlin wasn’t really an interview, but more of a document review. I sat in the office with the administrator and looked over all the forms. He asked me (more casually than formally) what I did for work and how long I’d been in Germany. Then processed my forms and told me I could go. I can’t say if that’s the way all other offices would do it, so I’d be prepared to speak about yourself, your job, your home just in case. And also rehearse some of the more technical language (ie: Ausweis, etc) that might relate to your form in case they have questions. I hit a bit of a rough spot because the photos I’d brought were the same as my passport photo, and they needed instead to be recent within six months. I stumbled on the German word for “recent” and thought I was done for — but the administrator was quite chill and let me run out to take new ones and then come back. It’s more for your own peace of mind. No one (at least in my experience) was trying to trick me or anything. 🙂 Good luck, and let me know if you have more questions!
thanks been looking for info on this. do you have any idea of they called your employer to check if you were still working with them.
I don’t believe they called, in my case!
Gabrielle, Thanks for the info, helps a lot. I understand in your case, it took you roughly 5 months from A to Z. My question is, how did you start step 1? Do you have to call them and take an appointment if I am not going thru my HR dept?
I mean, do you first download the relevant application form and take a Termin to submit your application?
Also, since you applied after completing 33 months, you didn’t have to submit any German language proficiency certificates?