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Legal status

  • Right of residence is determined by
    • where someone comes from (EU country or third country),
    • the reasons why someone is coming to Germany: for example as a refugee seeking asylum, to work or to study.
  • EU citizens and their family members (including family members from third countries), nationals of Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway and Swiss nationals essentially have the same status as German citizens. Citizens of other countries are normally subject to immigration law.
  • For citizens of EU accession states transitional regulations will remain in place for a few years in some areas (right of domicile and labour law). This means that people in this group will often be subject to the same regulations as citizens of third countries. Information can be found on the European Commission website.
  • A foreign national has student status if he or she is admitted to study at a state or state recognised higher education institution in Germany. Proof of admission can be replaced by a preliminary confirmation of a place at the institution or on a preparatory course stating that the final decision on the application for admission requires the personal attendance of the foreign national at the institution itself.
  • The Department for Immigration and Refugees provides information in German and English on the most frequent questions relating to immigration and asylum law.
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