Right of Residence in Germany - Overview
The 1st part of this series explains the right of residence of foreign nationals from the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
For answering the question as to whether a foreign national, i.e. everyone who is not German, may reside in Germany, the initial decisive criterion is the country from which s/he comes, or his/her nationality.
Citizens of the European Union and of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) on principle do not require a residence title. These citizens are entitled, on the basis of the right of free movement, to freely move about in Germany and to reside there for a period of up to three months.
When citizens intend to stay in Germany for more than three months, the provisions of the Act on the General Freedom of Movement of Union Citizens must apply to them, e.g. as employees, self-employed persons or job-seekers (for a maximum of 6 months) or as EU citizens who are not gainfully employed, as well as students or trainees, each of whom must dispose of sufficient own resources and health insurance cover. Family members of an EU citizen entitled to free movement (spouses, registered equal-sex partners in a quasi-matrimonial relationship, children and other family members to whom a person entitled to free movement grants support) also enjoy the EU freedom of movement. They do not require a residence title f.
Nevertheless, a citizen may lose his/her right to general free movement, if the prerequisites for the freedom of movement lapse within five years after the commencement of permanent residence in Germany (for instance because the citizen is unemployed for more than 6 months and/or no longer disposes of sufficient resources).
A permanent right of residence may be granted after a period of legal residence of five years.
Citizens with Swiss nationality are obliged to notify their stay when it lasts longer than three months and apply for a purely declaratory Residence Permit-Switzerland.
When a foreign national does not come from the European Union, Switzerland or the European Economic Area, but from a third country, a residence title is on principle always required. The relevant details are explained in the following articles.