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The next section gives an overview of rights and rules for a stay in Germany. This booklet is no guide to all rules and regulations. For further details one should see the foreigners office «Ausländeramt» and ask for a meeting (see «help and counselling») or see a special immigration lawyer.

Note: Everything in this handbook about different government departments (e.g. social, youth, living, foreign and employment etc…) only applies to residents of Landshut. Citizens of Altdorf, Ergolding, Kumhausen and the Landshut administrative district can find information at their town hall and the Landratsamt.

FOREIGNERS’ RIGHTS
For foreigners «Ausländer» in Germany apply many different rights and laws about their stay in Germany. A foreigner is anyone who is not German.

Note: The following is not valid for immigrants of German origin «Spätaussiedler» returning to Germany, mostly from states in the former Eastern Bloc. These people are Germans according to the law. You can obtain detailed information from the German Representative for Immigrants of German Origin and National Minorities in Germany: http://www.aussiedlerbeauftragter.de/ or at http://www.bmi.bund.de/.

The right and rules are not the same for all foreigners. The biggest differences are related to the duration of the stay in Germany, the country of origin and the reason of the stay in Germany, e.g. refugee, worker or student.

There are two major categories of foreigners: the first are citizens of the European Union and of Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Iceland or Norway. The second are citizens from any other country «Drittstaatangehörige».

It is important for non-EU foreigners what status they have in Germany. The major differences are between refugees and people with other reasons to be in Germany.
Note: Citizens who come to Germany to escape persecution must apply for asylum to receive protection in Germany. During the asylum process certain restrictions are in place but asylum seekers are permitted to stay as long as the asylum process is ongoing. The following text does not address the process of seeking asylum. Information on matters regarding asylum is available at the «Bundesamt für Anerkennung ausländischer Flüchtlinge» (Federal Office for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees - http://www.bamf.de/), Pro Asyl (http://www.proasyl.de/) or at the advice centers of charitable organizations.

FOREIGNERS FROM NON-EU COUNTRIES

RIGHT OF RESIDENCE «AUFENTHALTSRECHT»
In most cases everyone needs a visa (Visum) issued by the German authorities in the home coutry before entering Germany. Within Germany foreigners can be issued with the limited resident permit «Aufenthaltserlaubnis» or the unlimited settlement permit «Niederlassungserlaubnis».

RESIDENCE PERMIT «AUFENTHALTSERLAUBNIS»
How long can one stay in Germany? The duration of the stay can vary greatly and for different reasons. In some cases the visa can be extended to an unlimited permit after a certain period of time. But normally the visa or the residence permit is restricted to a certain time period for example the duration of a study program, for a specific family reunion or for contract work.

Note: The residence permit can only be extended if the application is made in person and well before the present permit has expired.

Employment
One is only allowed to gain employment in Germany, if it is stated on the visa. This applies to both working for a company and being self-employed. The foreigner’s office will check to see if one has the permission to work in Germany.

RESIDENCE FOR THE PURPOSE OF WORKING
Different residence permits can be issued for the purpose of taking up gainful employment (as an employee or self-employment). Which residence permit applies to you and which preconditions need to be fulfilled depends on the type of intended employment. Here it is distinguished between employment that does not require any professional qualifications, qualified employment, highly qualified employment and selfemployment.

  • Non-qualified Employment
    It is generally not possible to receive a residence permit for the purpose of taking up employment that does not require professional qualifications. These are only issued under exceptional circumstances if this has been allowed by intergovernmental agreements or is permitted by legal ordinance.
  • Qualified Employment
    It is permitted to employ professionally qualified foreigners in the case of specific vocations. These occupational groups are determined by legal ordinance. In individual cases, a residence permit can be issued for the purposes of carrying out a job requiring professional qualification if this is in the public interest and approval is given by the authorities.
  • Highly Qualified Employment
    Highly qualified persons can, in special cases, receive a settlement permit «Niederlassungserlaubnis» right from the outset. The preconditions for this are, among others, that they have a certain job offer and that the «Bundesagentur für Arbeit» (Federal Employment Agency) has given its approval.
  • Self-employed Work
    A residence permit can be issued for carrying out self-employed work. This presupposes that certain preconditions are fulfilled which, in particular, ensure that the work has a positive effect on the German economy. These preconditions are generally deemed to be fulfilled with a minimum investment sum of 1 million Euros and the creation of ten jobs. If the investment sum or the number of jobs is less than these values, the business proposal is examined in terms of the viability of the business idea, the amount of invested capital, the business experience of the foreigner and involves, among others, trade authorities and associations.

Foreigners who are older than 45 years only receive a residence permit if they have a suitable retirement pension.

Residency for the Purpose of Studying
A residence permit can be issued to foreign nationals also for the purpose of studying or for applying for a university place. Such an applicant may stay for a maximum of nine months. Those who obtain university admission will get a residence permit for two years, which normally is extended until the end of the studies. During the period of studies, students may work up to 90 days or 180 half-days.

Residency for German language students 
A foreigner who wants to learn the German language can obtain a residence permit for up to 12 months if attending a course of at least 20 hours in the week and someone provides food and shelter for the applicant.

Residency for the Purpose of Vocational Education and Training 
A residence permit can also be issued for the purpose of vocational education and training.

Family Reunion 
There are also extensive rules regarding the rights of non-EU citizens for family reunion «Familiennachzug». As every case is different one should obtain information from the aliens department «Ausländeramt».

SETTLEMENT PERMIT
If one holds the unlimited settlement permit «Niederlassungserlaubnis» it is generally ensured that one can stay here. There are no limits on time or location within Germany. It allows to take up work without another permit from the employment office «Bundesagentur für Arbeit». With this permission one can apply for most jobs in Germany.
Exceptions are only made for some medical professions and for most government positions.
The following conditions must generally be met in order to receive an unlimited settlement permit:

  • Possession of a residence permit «Aufenthaltserlaubnis» for at least five years
  • Five years of employment, including payment of social insurance contributions
  • Secure livelihood
  • Sufficient accommodation for you and your family
  • Sufficient knowledge of German
  • Basic knowledge of the German legal and social systems

For married couples it is sufficient for one of the partners to fulfil the social insurance requirement. For children there are very far reaching exceptions. Children have the right to residency status if they have been in Germany more than five years before their 1 6th birthday. There are different rules for recognized refugees who can apply for residency after three years.

Note: If one is leaving the country for more than 6 months one might lose the residency status in Germany. If one needs to be out of the country for more than 6 months one should talk with someone from the «Ausländerbehörde».

EU CITIZENS AND THEIR RELATIVES
European Union citizens enjoy a wide range of freedoms which means, for instance, they are able to freely move anywhere within the European Union.

Wide-ranging anti-discrimination laws are in place to protect EU citizens. This prevents individual states treating EU citizens different from their own citizens. But of course there is almost no rule that does not have an exception. The freedom to move anywhere within the EU is not (yet) fully guaranteed. Some requirements relating to the law on aliens and some formalities are in place for EU citizens when they are in other member states.

Note: EU citizens can also travel to Germany in search of work without a visa. EU citizens and family members who are citizens of a member state of the European Union will be issued with a certificate certifying the right of residency. EU citizens therefore do not have to seek permission to stay from the immigration authorities. However, they must register within an appropriate time limit with the registration authorities (e.g. at the «Einwohnermeldeamt» (registration office)). According to EU law, however, they are not entitled to German social assistance «Arbeitslosengeld II» (Unemployment Benefit II) or social security) while searching for employment.

RESIDENCE RIGHTS
EU citizens are entitled to take up employment. They do not require special approval from the «Bundesagentur für Arbeit» (Federal Employment Agency).

Note: Transitional regulations apply to EU citizens from most of the new EU member states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary) for taking up work as employees, particularly if they have come to Germany recently. They are only eligible to take up employment if authorization has been granted by the «Bundesagentur für Arbeit» (Federal Employment Agency). For the issue of EU work permits, the same conditions apply as for the approval of the employment of third-country nationals entering Germany for the purposes of working (see above for residency rights of third-country nationals). EU citizens from the new member states enjoy, however, precedence over third-country nationals. These temporary restrictions initially apply up to the 30th of April 2006, and up to the 30th of April 2011 at the latest.

Note: Certain jobs require special qualifications in Germany. The European Union is attempting to standardize the recognition of qualifications. Further information can be found on the Internet at www.europa.eu 

FOREIGNERS’ VOTING RIGHTS AND FOREIGNER COUNCIL
Normally people who are not German cannot vote in elections. There are exceptions to this rule though, for example EU-citizens are allowed to vote in community elections once they have been there for more than 3 months.
EU-citizens can also vote for the EU parliament either in Germany or in their country.

Third status residents (non EU) have no voting rights. The only opportunity for them to vote is through the foreigner council «Ausländerbeirat».

CITIZEN OFFICE
The «Bürgerbüro» is a central office for many different city departments.
At the information desk you can find

  • The lost and found
  • Passport and ID card distribution
  • Official documents distribution
  • Application for certificates
  • Yellow bag, grey garbage bags and a container for compost.
  • The cashier
  • General information

In the «Bürgerbüro» you can find:

  • Applications for ID cards, passports and child passports
  • Registering residence or giving notice of departure
  • Tax card information
  • Approved copies of documents (5- Euro per paper)
  • Documents for voting

The office has a call system to organize who is next in line. When you go there get a number from the machine right away.

REGISTRY OFFICE
Every birth, adoption, wedding, divorce and death must be registered at the «Standesamt».

BIRTH
After the birth of a child the parents have 15 days to register it. In Landshut the clinic often does this for you. Also midwifes or the doctor will f ill out the form which the parents must bring to the office.

DIVORCE AND MARRIAGE
In a German-foreign marriage the non-German’s national laws have to be considered as well so that the marriage/divorce is valid in their homecountry. The «Standesamt» will see if the couple may actually get married.

Documents needed for marriage

  • Birth certificate
  • Passport
  • Any applicable visas

Many foreign documents must not only be translated but also have to be legalized and approved by a German consulate or embassy; this can take a long period of time.

IN CASE OF DEATH
Every death has to be registered as soon as possible. At hospitals and at funeral homes the formalities will often be done for you.

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