Bringing your family


On 23 June 2023, the German Bundestag passed a new immigration law for skilled workers (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz). The new law will come into effect beginning in November 2023, with new regulations being introduced gradually. We plan to update our website when the law is fully in effect. Until then, please make sure to check individually if information on entry, the EU Blue Card, recognition of qualifications and family reunion is up to date. Some changes also affect refugees who are in an asylum procedure. Please note: the law aims at loosening regulations and will not create more restrictions. An English-language summary of the new regulations can be found on the Make it in Germany website.

More information
Family, holding hands at the airport and travelling on foot with suitcase parents and child, ready for flight.

Germany’s regulations are very family-oriented: your spouse or partner and your children will receive a residence permit and can come with you from day one or join you later.

This is true regardless of whether you come to Germany

  • as a researcher or scientist,
  • on an EU Blue Card or
  • as a highly qualified professional.

And of course this also applies if you and your family are citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. In this case, you and your dependents benefit from the EU’s freedom of movement policy: you will not need any residence or work permit.

Even if your partner is not an EU citizen, they will still be entitled to enter and stay in Germany – this is called family reunification (Familiennachzug) and also applies to your children. It is possible that this will require a visa, but if so, it will be easier to obtain. After your visa is approved and you have registered at the registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) in Germany, your spouse or partner can initiate the visa application at their local German consulate. Please note that for family reunification you must have a residence address in Germany.

Your family can also join you even if you are still studying for a doctoral degree.

Further information can be obtained from the German diplomatic missions responsible for visa affairs in your home country or from the immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) in the town or city in Germany where your family will be living.

Good to know

Family reunification is usually restricted to spouses or civil partners and underage children. Since 2020, there is a new right of residence for third-country nationals who are “close relatives” of EU citizens – including siblings, foster children and unmarried cohabiting partners who can credibly prove a long-term relationship with the EU citizen.  

Citizens of the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland are entitled to move freely within the EU. Since the British exit from the European Union (Brexit), British citizens need a visa or residence permit if they want to work in Germany or stay longer than 90 days. If they have already been working in Germany, different rules apply.

A residence permit for the purposes of working as a researcher in Germany also applies to doctoral candidates if they are employed by an academic institution in Germany. If the doctoral programme is a full-time study programme, however, the PhD candidate will be granted a visa for studying.

The Garantiefonds Hochschule (“Guarantee Fund University”) advises and supports young immigrants in preparing for, taking up and continuing their university studies in Germany. Refugees, late repatriates and Jewish immigrants, as well as their spouses and children under 30, are also eligible for financial support.