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Visa Options for Fearful British Expats in Germany

More than 100,000 Brits live in Germany and not one is certain of their future in the country. Currently, British nationals are protected by EU rules, as Article 50 has not been triggered. Presently, it is rumoured that Britain will be free of European Union control by April 2019.

The uncertainty surrounding expat’s futures not only in Germany and Britain, but all other EU states, is making many extremely nervous. Much of Germany’s British expat community is made up of young professionals who are fearful that they won’t be granted a visa. Another large group are elderly Brits who live on fixed incomes in rented flats.

At the moment, it appears there are four different options for Brits who want to cement their future in Germany.

German Citizenship

To become a German citizen, Brits will need to have been living in the country for eight uninterrupted years. They will need to have a valid residency permit, a livelihood-guarantee, a strong grasp of the German language and no criminal convictions. They will also have to give up their British citizenship and swear an oath to the German constitution.

Citizenship can also be granted to children born in Germany to British parents, as long as one of the parents has been living in Germany uninterrupted for eight years and has held a valid residency permit for three years.

EC Residence Permit

Brits who have been living in Germany on a resident permit for five uninterrupted years are entitled to stay living in Germany indefinitely on a permanent EC permit. However, you must also be able to satisfy the following conditions:

-Have secured a livelihood with health insurance and retirement provisions
-Have suitable living space
-Speak German adequately
-Have basic knowledge of German life, legal and social systems
-Hold no criminal record

Brits with this permit are also entitled to live in any EU country permanently. British residents in Germany who already hold an EC Residence Permit from another country will need to show a valid passport and provide proof of employment or study to claim permanent residency.

Settlement Permit

Settlement Permits are another way for British expats to stay in Germany permanently. It is exactly the same as an EC Residence Permit, but does not allow individuals to live in other EU counties permanently. For certain groups, Settlement Permits can be acquired before the five-year mark:

-High qualified individuals may be issued a permit immediately
-Self-employed people with an established business may be able to secure a permit within three years
-EU Blue Card Holders can apply after working in Germany for 33 months
-EU Blue Card Holders with a level B1 language certificate can apply after working in Germany for 21 months
-Graduates of a German higher education institute may be able to get a permit after two years

EU Blue Card

Very similar to the Green Card in the USA, the EU Blue Card is for highly educated and skilled workers from non-EU countries, which is what the UK will become. It will grant British individuals the right to work and stay in Germany, or any EU country. However, applications do come with conditions:

-Only certain university degrees are considered acceptable, the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) provides advice
-Those a job contract or concrete offer of employment will need to prove they earn an average annual gross salary of €800 (approximately £44,065) or €39.624 (approximately £34,370) in understaffed industries

The EU Blue Card is valid for a maximum of four years, or the length of a working contract plus three months. Those issued with the card can get permission to stay after three years if their working contract is still valid or has been extended. Those who have a German language level of B1 can ask for permission to stay in Germany after just 2 years.

University graduates are given a six-month period to try and find a permanent job in Germany.

More information on German visas and citizenship can be found here.


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