First of all, let me clarify a point. The blue card (Die Blaue Karte) you possess in Germany is a limited residence permit and is granted for a duration of 4 years. The permanent residence permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis), however, is an entirely different type of permit.
The Blue Card itself is a privileged card given to qualified immigrants, which allows its holders to apply for a permanent residence permit with fewer requirements and in a shorter period of time. Therefore, if you have a different limited residence permit other than the Blue Card, I must inform you that the requirements for obtaining a permanent residence permit are different.
This process describes the procedure for obtaining a permanent residence permit that I went through at the Munich Foreigners’ Office (Ausländerbehörde – Landeshauptstadt München). Please note that durations and required documents may vary in other cities or states.
Requirements for Permanent Residence Permit
The requirements are actually straightforward. Starting from the day you received your Blue Card, you need to fulfill one of the following conditions:
- Either work continuously for 21 months, pay uninterrupted retirement contributions, and hold a B1 level German language proficiency certificate
- Or work continuously for 33 months, pay uninterrupted retirement contributions, and hold an A1 level German language proficiency certificate
If you meet the conditions of either of these two criteria, you are eligible to apply for a permanent residence permit.
Required Documents for Permanent Residence Permit
Since each state/city has its own application portal and these documents are periodically updated, you need to research the current required documents on the internet.
To do this, you can search on Google by entering the name of your city followed by “Niederlassungserlaubnis beantragen.” Within the first one or two search results, you can find the application portal you are looking for and access the current required documents.
Here is the link to the website where I applied for my own permanent residence permit in Munich: https://service.muenchen.de/intelliform/forms/01/02/02/niederlassungserlaubnis/index
Since I applied in September 2022, I will explain the documents that were required from me at that time:
- Antragsformular: It is a 6-page application form that asks for your personal information, details about your family if applicable, and whether there are any ongoing legal proceedings against you. You need to fill it out completely and accurately.
- Einkommensnachweis: This section requires your salary slips for the past 3 months. You can obtain it directly from your company or, if your company has an account such as https://apps.datev.de/ano/, you can enter your personal information provided by the company and download it.
- Bestätigung über das Arbeitsverhältnis: This is a document that needs to be filled out and signed by your employer.
- Erklärung zum Lebensunterhalt: This document asks for information about how you support yourself. You need to mention any social benefits you receive, as well as your gross and net income and rental expenses.
- Erklärung häusliche Gemeinschaft: This is a document that declares how long you have been living in Germany and with whom.
- Rentenversicherungsverlauf mit Wartezeitauskunft: This is a document that shows your history of paying retirement contributions. You need to apply for this document separately from the relevant institution. For Munich, you can apply through this link. They usually send it to your address within 3-4 weeks, but I have heard of cases where it took longer, around 2 months.
- Mietvertrag: Your rental agreement.
- Wohnraumbescheinigung: This is a document that needs to be filled out and signed by your landlord.
- Sprachnachweis: If you have not taken an integration course, you need a B1 level German language certificate for 21 months or an A1 level certificate for 33 months. For this, you can provide:
- Exams conducted by the Goethe-Institut
- Certificates from TestDaF or TELC certified language courses
- Language proficiency certificates from language courses at German universities (participation certificates are not accepted)
- DSH exam
Note: As of May 2023, when this article was written for Munich, when I looked at the required documents again, Wohnraumbescheinigung and Mietvertrag have been removed, and instead, a copy of your passport is requested in the “Nationalpass oder Passersatz” section. Therefore, don’t forget to check the validity of the documents.
After uploading these documents to the relevant application portal and completing your application, you will receive a confirmation email stating that a response will be provided within 6-8 weeks, although I have heard cases where the waiting period was longer than stated.
In the response, they may sometimes request additional or updated documents from you. You need to attach these documents to the email you received and send them back, then wait for another response. If you’re lucky, you may receive a reply within one or two weeks, but there can be situations where it takes longer.
Status of the Blue Card
If all the documents are correct and complete, you will receive an email asking whether you want to return your Blue Card as soon as you receive the residence permit or if you want to continue using it. At this stage, I can say that your acquisition of a permanent residence permit is confirmed. Congratulations!
Die Niederlassungserlaubnis nach § 18c Abs. 2 zu bekommen und Ihre Blaue Karte EU zurückzugeben oder: Returning the Blue Card immediately after receiving the residence permit
Die Niederlassungserlaubnis nach § 18c Abs. 2 zu bekommen und Ihre Blaue Karte EU zu behalten, bzw. verlängern zu lassen: Continuing to use the Blue Card.
The main difference between returning the Blue Card immediately after receiving the residence permit and continuing to use it is actually related to the advantages brought by the Blue Card. You can consider whether you still want to benefit from the advantages of the Blue Card, especially if you have the need to bring your spouse to Germany. Alternatively, you can choose to return it.
After stating your response in the email and sending it, you will now wait for the appointment from the foreigner’s office.
Appointment at the Foreigner’s Office
Once you have your appointment from the foreigner’s office, you need to bring your passport, a biometric photo taken within the last 6 months, and a printout of the appointment email. On the email, it will also mention the fee payment, which for Munich in April 2023 is 42.70€. You can pay this fee either using the machines or at the counter in the foreigner’s office. The email provides step-by-step instructions for making the payment using the machine. If you choose to pay at the counter, you need to take a printout of the document they sent and present it at the counter. You will also need to show the receipt during your appointment.
During your appointment, you will be asked to sign a few documents and provide your fingerprints. They will also verify the accuracy of your address information. After these procedures, they will inform you that your permanent residence permit card will be sent to your home address by mail within 6-8 weeks.
Final Step: Returning the Blue Card
If you have stated your intention to return the Blue Card, they will include a section in the package they send you with the permanent residence permit card, explaining how to return your Blue Card. You need to follow the steps provided to return your Blue Card.”
Note: It’s important to note that the specific procedures and requirements may vary, so it’s advisable to check the latest information on the official websites and consult with the relevant authorities during the application process.