Relocating to Germany often does not have to do only with talent getting a job or aiming to start a small business in Germany. In many cases, there are family members that need visas as well. 

The purpose of this article is to provide you with practical information about family reunification visas, so that you can figure out the best way to bring your family to Germany as part of your smart relocation. 

The full guide for relocating expat families to Germany

First of all, a couple of general notes:

1. Visas are a matter of nationality: Citizens of most countries in the world have to first apply for a National Visa Type D for family reunification, and only then they may enter Germany and apply for a residence permit.

2. Citizens of 7 countries may enter Germany on their 90 days visa free stay and change their legal residence status from within Germany. Those are: Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and USA
Furthermore, citizens of Andorra, Brazil, El Salvador, Honduras, Monaco and San Marino may enter and apply for family visas (but not for work visas!). 

Conclusion: Being able to enter Germany for 90 days without a Schengen visas does not give you the possibility of changing your legal status from within the country. 

3. One of the main criteria in the game of family reunification visas is German knowledge: In most cases, family members will have to speak A1 level of German in order to get a family reunification visa. Furthermore, often spouses will be required to do an integration course in Germany, which brings them to a B1 level of German.  

And here is some info about the different type of visas out there: 

Family Reunification with German Citizens

Who is it for?

The Family Reunification Visa with German citizens is designed for spouses of German citizens, for parents of underage German children and  for underage children of German citizens (who are not German citizens themselves). Unlike the family Reunification Visa with European citizens, the right to stay and work in Germany is not mediated by the partner's job.

What do I get?

A residence permit for 1-3 years, which compares your status to the status of your German partner, meaning: you will be allowed to both work and get all the benefits given to German Citizens, apart from voting, getting elected, the right for permanent residency and the freedom of settlement in the EU.


You will probably have to attend an integration course (German course), both in order to get the visa, and in order to have it extended/ apply for permanent residency. 

Family Reunification with European Citizens

Who is it for? 

The Family Reunification Visa with European citizens is suitable for first-degree relatives of European citizens (spouses, parents to underage children and underage children who are not EU-Citizens themselves). On principle, the right to stay is mediated by the European family member's job: If the European family member is not working, the visa applicant must present their job, which can provide for the entire family according to German standards. In case that both partners are not working, the right to stay can be mediated by sufficient funds and income from abroad (for example: rental income or pension). 

How many hours must the European citizen work?

In order to receive the family reunion visa, the European citizen will need to work a minimum of 10 hours per week and to earn a minimum of 450 Euros per month.


In case the visa applicant is working, they must present a salary which could provide for the entire family according to German standards.

What do I get?

If everything goes well, you should get a visa for 5 years which compares your status to that of your European partner, meaning: you will be allowed to work and to receive all benefits given to European citizens - except for voting and being elected.


In the case where both partners are not working, you will receive a temporary visa for six months which includes a work permit. When it wil expire, you will have to attend another appointment at the immigration office and present new facts in order to have it extended. 

Family Reunification with Visa Holders

Who is it for?

The Family Reunification Visa with Visa Holders is designed for first-degree relatives of foreign citizens who hold a visa in Germany, and is dependent on the main family member providing for the full cost of living in Germany for the entire family according to German standards. In case that the visa applicant is also working in Germany (for example, in cases when both partners are already living in Germany), their income can be counted towards the living costs calculation.  


Family members of people applying for a visa for the first time might be able to get their visa application approved under slightly easier conditions.

What does this visa give me?

This visa is a family Reunification visa in all respects. This means you will probably have to participate in an integration course and will receive an unrestricted work permit, like the family members of German citizens.

For how long will my visa be valid?

Usually your visa will bear the same validity as the visa of your spouse. However, the Immigration Office could decide to issue a visa for 2-3 years, even if your partner´s visa is longer than that.