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EU Citizens and their Relatives

European Union citizens enjoy a wide range of freedoms which means, for instance, that they are able to freely move anywhere within the European Union. Wide-ranging anti-discrimination laws are in place to protect EU citizens. This prevents individual states treating EU citizens differently than their own citizens. But of course there is almost no rule that does not have an exception. The freedom to move anywhere within the EU is not (yet) fully guaranteed. Some requirements relating to the law on aliens and some formalities are in place for EU citizens when they are in other member states.

Hyperlink: www.europa.eu.int/eures

Information: You can find detailed information for EU citizens on the Internet at Hyperlink: www.europa.eu.int/citizensrights or by phoning 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11, which is a free phone number that you can call from all 25 member states in your own language.

Employees and Self-Employed Persons

One of the central points of this freedom of movement is to be able to work in other member states. Therefore EU citizens are protected under EU law if they wish to provide or receive services, set up their own business, or take up employment in other member states.

Information: Note: EU citizens can also travel to Germany in search of work without a visa. EU citizens and family members who are citizens of a member state of the European Union will be issued with a certificate certifying the right of residency. EU citizens therefore do not have to seek permission to stay from the immigration authorities. However, they must register within an appropriate time limit with the registration authorities (e.g. at the "Einwohnermeldeamt" (registration office)). According to EU law, however, they are not entitled to German social assistance ("Arbeitslosengeld II" (Unemployment Benefit II) or social security) while searching for employment.

Residence Rights

EU citizens are entitled to take up employment. They do not require special approval from the "Bundesagentur für Arbeit" (Federal Employment Agency). Certain restrictions only apply in certain civil servant jobs and only in certain cases (for instance the police). The Immigration Office can demand, however, that individuals prove that they fulfil the conditions of freedom of movement. An employee can secure this by gaining a letter of employment from their employer.

Information: Note: Transitional regulations apply to EU citizens from most of the new EU member states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary) for taking up work as employees, particularly if they have come to Germany recently. They are only eligible to take up employment if authorisation has been granted by the "Bundesagentur für Arbeit" (Federal Employment Agency). For issuing EU work permits, the same conditions apply as for approving the employment of third-country nationals entering Germany for the purposes of working (see above for residency rights of third-country nationals). EU citizens from the new member states enjoy, however, precedence over third-country nationals. These temporary restrictions initially apply until the 30th of April 2006, and to the 30th of April 2011 at the latest.

EU citizens who have continually lived in Germany for at least five years are entitled to continue living in Germany, regardless of other prerequisites governing freedom of movement. This also applies to their spouses or partners and dependent children. For children under the age of 16, however, this only applies if a legal guardian is living in Germany.

Temporary inability to work due to illness, accidents or involuntary unemployment does not affect the right of residence. A number of people also gain the right to remain in Germany, regardless of their original status of employment, even if they are no longer employed in Germany (for instance if they become unemployed due to a work accident).

Information: Note: Certain jobs require certain qualifications in Germany. The European Union is attempting to standardise the recognition of qualifications. Further information can be found on the Internet at Hyperlink: www.europa.eu.int/citizensrights.

Family Reunion

EU citizens enjoy wide-ranging rights to family reunion, i.e. the rights of family members to join a relative who is already resident in Germany for employment reasons. The following people are allowed to join their family members:

Information: Note: The right to come to Germany also applies to relatives who are third-country citizens, i.e. who are not themselves EU citizens. But these people do have to obtain a visa for Germany if they come from a country that has visa requirements (see above). (Although recent European legislation makes it now possible under certain circumstances to obtain a visa or other necessary documents after entering Germany, it is nevertheless recommended in these cases to do this before entering Germany.)

Students, Pensioners and Other EU Citizens Whose Livelihood is Guaranteed

EU citizens who wish to live in Germany are protected by European law and are privileged even when they do not wish to work or earn a living. Retired EU citizens have the right to live in Germany and draw their pensions from other member states. This is also the case for people who do not draw a pension but have sufficient funds to live in Germany. EU citizens can also study in Germany.

These groups must, however, prove that they have sufficient funds and health insurance coverage for themselves and their families. They must also prove this, if necessary, to the Immigration Office. Students generally only need to make a simple statement.

Students are allowed to bring – or be joined by – their spouses and children. For same-sex couples joined in civil union (see above), partners are also entitled to join their respective partner living in Germany. Others entitled to unrestricted freedom of movement are also allowed to bring their immediate older relatives (grandparents).

This always presupposes that the livelihood of the relatives is actually guaranteed.

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