BAMF - Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge - Subsequent entry of families & spouses

Navigation and service

to welcome page

Putting people first: providing security, creating opportunities, embracing change

Subsequent entry of spouses

Language skills are an elementary requirement to ensure successful integration into German society.

If you wish to move to Germany as a foreigner to join your spouse, you must therefore as a general rule be able to prove that you have basic German-language skills before entering the country. The Federal Republic of Germany wishes to ensure that you can participate in society from the outset.

Statutory exceptions to the need to prove language knowledge are regulated by section 30 subs. 1 sentences 2 and 3 of the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz). This exception applies to you in particular where highly-qualified workers and self-employeed individuals are joining persons who are entitled to asylum, recognised refugees and those entitled to subsidiary protection, as well as those with permanent residence status. You are also exempt from demonstrating language knowledge if your spouse is a national of one of the countries designated in section 41 of the Residence Ordinance (Aufenthaltsverordnung), you have little need of integration because of your level of qualification, or you are unable to learn the language because of your personal condition. Some further preconditions need to be satisfied in order to qualify for the exceptions, such as the length of the marriage.

You also do not have to provide proof of language skills prior to entering the country if

  • your spouse is German and has previously made use of his or her European right of freedom of movement by being resident in another EU Member State for a prolonged period of time,
  • your spouse is German and you are unable to acquire a knowledge of the language abroad, or you cannot be expected to do so, or despite your efforts you have not been successful within one year, or
  • you or your spouse are nationals of a Member State of the EU (apart from Germany) or of one of the EEA States Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein or Switzerland,
  • you can substantiate reasons why you cannot learn the language which may constitute a hardship case.

display as hint: References to court decisions

  • Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht), judgment of 4 September 2012, BVerwG 10 C 12.12
  • European Court of Justice, judgment of 10 July 2014, ECJ - C‑138/13

Further information on this subject is available from the German diplomatic mission abroad which is responsible for issuing visas and from the foreigners authority at the family’s future place of residence in Germany (see also the information in the right-hand column).

Date 24 October 2016

© 2019 Copyright by Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. All rights reserved.