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Unlocking Opportunities: The Benefits of a Settlement Permit for International Students in Germany

Your complete guide to getting a settlement permit in Germany as an international student: eligibility, documents, application process, and more.

Germany has become a top choice for international students because of its exceptional education system and highly-ranked universities recognized worldwide. As on date, Germany is the fourth largest global economy, and offers a great quality of life, strong economy, and excellent educational opportunities, making it an attractive destination for people from all over the world. Permanent residency is known as Settlement Permits (called ‘Niederlassungserlaubnis’ in German). PR in Germany for Indian students offers numerous benefits, such as the ability to work and live in the country indefinitely, access to healthcare, education, and social security, and the freedom to travel within the European Union. Additionally, having a German PR status can also open up opportunities for business and investment, as well as provide a pathway to citizenship. Whether you are an Indian student seeking higher education or a professional looking for new opportunities, obtaining permanent residency in Germany can be a very good tactical move in terms of career advancement. If you’re wondering how to get PR in Germany after study, there are various pathways and requirements that you can explore.

Benefits of Receiving a German Settlement Permit
Residents are entitled to receive a number of advantages by securing a German Settlement Permit, which they otherwise were not. Following is a list of benefits that the German Settlement Permit offers to the residents:

1. No restrictions for working in Germany.
2. Allows better credit; increased chances of obtaining a loan.
3. Unrestricted travel permit.
4. EU Permanent Residence Permit, which offers not only permanent residence in Germany but a longer stay in other EU countries as well.
5. Entitled to Social Security services such as childcare benefits, health insurance and healthcare, and social assistance.
6. Allows you to apply for scholarships or financial aid at any German university.
7. Allows you to gain German citizenship after 8 years of living as a permanent resident.

All that you need to know about studying in Germany.

However, there are certain eligibility criteria and procedures one needs to keep in mind in order to obtain a German PR.
Eligibility Criteria Before Applying for a Settlement Permit
The German Permanent Residency Permit, also known as the Settlement Permit, allows individuals from non-EU and non-EEA countries to work, study and settle down with their families in Germany.
There are several PR rules, regulations, and criteria one needs to follow and fulfill to meet the German PR eligibility. The very first criterion for a foreign student to apply for a German PR is to work for 2 years in Germany post the completion of their education at a German University. The list below states the other eligibility criteria that one needs to meet before applying for a German Settlement Permit:
● The applicant must have held a valid residence permit in Germany for at least five years.
● The applicant or their spouse must have contributed to a pension insurance scheme for at least 60 months.
● The applicant must be financially self-sufficient and able to support themselves and any dependents without relying on public funds.
● The applicant must have a sufficient knowledge of the German language, equivalent to level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
● The applicant must have a basic understanding of the legal and social system, as well as the way of life in Germany.
● The applicant must have adequate accommodation for themselves and any family members living with them.
● The applicant must have all the necessary permits to practice their profession in the long-term (this requirement can also be met by a spouse).
● There must be no grounds for public safety or order that would prevent the issuance of a Settlement Permit.
These criteria are important to meet in order to be considered eligible for a Settlement Permit in Germany. However, for students and skilled workers, the pre-conditions to obtain a Settlement Permit are slightly more favorable, as we can see below.

Pathways to German PR

It takes 4 years for a foreigner to get Permanent Residency in Germany. However, there are certain pathways one can take in order to obtain a PR earlier. Following are some of the ways through which one can secure a PR before the stated period of 4 years:

For Professionals
● You must have held a residence permit for at least four years as a skilled worker (with vocational or academic training) or as a researcher.
● You must be currently employed and hold a job.
● You must have made compulsory contributions to a pension insurance scheme for at least 48 months.

For Graduates of a course of study or vocational training in Germany
● You must have successfully completed vocational training or studies in Germany.
● You must have held a residence permit for at least two years as a skilled worker (with vocational or academic training) or as a researcher.
● You must be currently employed and hold a job.
● You must have made compulsory contributions to a pension insurance scheme for at least 24 months.

By fulfilling these requirements, students can apply for German PR after study and potentially gain permanent residency in the country. After a period of 8 years, these individuals can acquire naturalization.

Aside of this, there are three other pathways as follows:

PR in Germany for EU Blue Card Holders
EU Blue Card holders can secure a German PR within 33 months of their stay in Germany, given that their job corresponds with their qualifications, they have an A1 Level of German Language proficiency clearance, can afford an adequate space to live and can integrate with the German way of life.

PR in Germany for Self-Employed Individuals
Self-employed individuals who are working in Germany for the past 3 years and hold a Residency Visa, can also obtain a PR. However, they must ensure that they are self-employed at the time of application and can prove the financial stability to support their and their family’s life in Germany.

PR in Germany for Family Members of Someone with a German Residency
This category is for those who have a close family member who is a permanent citizen of Germany. However, they can only apply for the PR after completing 3 years of stay in Germany (5 years for the ones financially dependent). Apart from that, they should also be fluent in the B1 level of the German language, should hold a valid work permit, have contributed to the pension insurance fund, have proof that they intend to continue living as a German citizen, and have enough personal income that they do not need social security assistance for the same.

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Documents Required

Following is the list of essential documents one is required to submit to the German Immigration Office for the application of a German PR:

1. A duly filled Application form.
2. 2 passport-size photographs (35mm x 45mm) of the applicant, taken as per the biometric specifications.
3. A valid national passport.
4. Immigration pass.
5. Birth certificate.
6. Current employment letter with all the details about the job; evidence of employment for the past 2 years.
7. Proof of paid pension insurance.
8. Covered German Health Insurance.
9. Degree/certificate of education.
10. Proof of accommodation and registration; financial stability.
11. Certificate of clearance for B1 Level of German Proficiency Exam.
12. Professional License.

Application Process to Apply for a Settlement Permit in Germany
As one fulfills all the eligibility criteria, they are qualified to now move ahead and apply for the PR. The candidates are required to apply for the Permanent Residency Permit before their current Residency Permit expires. After applying, the applicant would receive a notification from the Immigration Office within 2-3 weeks; it takes approximately 3 months for the application to process. By following the below-given process, one can get through the application process, hassle-free:

1. Register your German Address, at the Registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) which is generally located in the Citizens’ office (Bürgerbüro) of the local town hall or municipal or city administration.

2. Get German Health Insurance and Bank Account.

3. Fill the Application Form: You can find the application form for the German Settlement Permit on the website of the local Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde) in the city where you live. The application form can usually be downloaded and printed from the website. Alternatively, you can also obtain the application form in person from the local Foreigners Authority. Some cities may require you to book an appointment before visiting the Foreigners Authority, so it’s a good idea to check the website or contact them beforehand to find out their specific procedures. You need to duly fill up the form before applying.

4. Make an appointment: Schedule an appointment with the local Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde) in the city where you live. You can typically do this online or by phone.

5. Gather documents: Collect all the above-mentioned documents

6. Attend the appointment: Go to your appointment at the Foreigners Authority with all your documents, the completed application form, and the fee. Make the fee payment either through cash, EC card, or bank payment. The general Settlement Permit cost is approximately 113 EUR. However, the cost of PR differs as per the work profile of the candidate. For skilled workers it is 113 EUR, for freelancers and self-employed individuals the cost is 124 EUR, while for highly qualified professionals the cost is 147 EUR. You may be required to appear for an interview by the German Official, who would also check the documents.

7. Wait for processing: Wait for your application to be processed. The processing time can vary depending on the workload of the Foreigners Authority.

8. Receive your permit: If your application is approved, you will receive your settlement permit. If it is denied, you will receive a written explanation of the decision and information on how to appeal.

Processing Time
As mentioned earlier, processing time depends on the workload of the Foreigners Authority. However, you should typically expect to have a decision on your PR application in 2-3 weeks provided all documentation is in order.

Dos and Don’ts for Settlement Permit application in Germany

Here are some possible Do’s and Don’ts for international students applying for a Settlement Permit in Germany:

Do’s:
1. Start the application process early to allow sufficient time for gathering all required documents.
2. Get help from a professional if you are unsure about any part of the PR process in Germany.
3. Check the requirements and regulations for the Settlement Permit application regularly, as they may change over time.
4. Attend German language classes and try to improve your language proficiency as it is an one of the important PR requirements.
5. Be prepared for a personal interview, if requested, and be honest and confident when answering questions.

Don’ts:
1. Do not wait until the last minute to start gathering required documents or submitting your application, as this could delay or even jeopardize the PR process.
2. Do not submit incomplete or incorrect information, as this may result in rejection or delays in processing your application.
3. Do not ignore any requests for additional documents or information from the authorities.
4. Do not make false claims or exaggerate your qualifications or work experience.
5. Do not be late or miss any appointments or interviews, as this could negatively affect your application.
6. Don’t give up if your application is rejected, as there may be options for appeal or other paths to obtaining the settlement permit.

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FAQs

A Settlement Permit in Germany grants the holder unlimited residency rights in the country, which means they can stay and work in Germany indefinitely without needing to apply for a visa or extension. The holder also has access to social welfare programs, can bring their family members to Germany, and can apply for German citizenship after a certain period of time.

Yes, you can travel outside of Germany with a Settlement Permit. However, if you plan to be outside of Germany for more than 6 months in a year, you will need to obtain a re-entry visa before leaving. It is also important to ensure that your Settlement Permit is valid for re-entry, as certain conditions may apply based on your individual circumstances. It is recommended to consult with the local Foreigners' Office for more information on re-entry requirements.

Yes, it is possible to lose your Settlement Permit in certain circumstances. You may lose your permit if you leave Germany for more than six months without a valid reason or if you commit a serious criminal offense. It is important to also note that your Settlement Permit can be revoked if you obtained it through fraudulent means or if you no longer meet the PR eligibility Germany criteria. It is essential to always follow the PR rules and regulations to maintain your permit status.

Yes, family members of a Settlement Permit holder may also be eligible to obtain a Settlement Permit in Germany. This includes spouses, registered partners, and children under 18 years old. Family members who are non-EU nationals will need to fulfill the same eligibility criteria as the primary permit holder, such as meeting the minimum income requirement and demonstrating German language proficiency. In some cases, family members may also be eligible for a Settlement Permit without meeting these requirements, such as if they have lived in Germany for a certain period of time or if they are dependent on the primary permit holder.

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