29 November 2019

New Achievement Unlocked: Permanent Residence!

Earlier this year, I mentioned that I started the process of applying for permanent residence. And I am happy to announce that after some months, after a denial, after a further consultation with an immigration consultant to argue against the denial, after a couple more months of waiting, and after several documents sent over by post and email, I now am a permanent resident.

See, I had to apply by filling out a form and sending the form to the Foreigner's Registration Office in Berlin. Together with the application, I sent the supporting documents that they required. I did this back in February. A few weeks later, I received a letter signifying receipt of my application, and at the same time, they already told me that my application was being denied, since according to them, I would only qualify from 2021.

This is false. The thing is, permanent residence is typically allowed after 5 years, according to German law, as well as according to EU law. When I arrived here in Germany in 2012, I had a work visa, by virtue of being employed in academia. I was granted a work visa by German law, and my clock started ticking from September 2012 onward. However, in May 2016, I changed my status, and received a residence permit by virtue of being a family member of an EU citizen, which is a provision not by German law, but by EU law. So in May 2016, another clock started to tick. And by February 2019, I have been in Germany for more than 6 years, somehow I haven't qualified for permanent residence since I haven't been here for 5 years neither from the perspective of German nor EU laws. Hence the first reaction I received was a denial of my application.

That being said, according to Section 11.1 of the EU Freedom of Movement Act, the German Residence Act shall also apply (i.e. I can receive a permanent residence permit) if it establishes a more favourable legal status than the Freedom of Movement Act. And for this purpose, according to Section 11.3 of the EU Freedom of Movement Act, my periods of legal stay in Germany can be counted together, even if they were legally based on two different laws (i.e. German law as well as EU law).

Of course, I enlisted the help of an immigration consultant to be able to come up with this, and together we drafted an official response. This was received by the Foreigner's Registration Office in Berlin, and then they asked me to submit some other documents in order to prove that I have means of subsistence. I needed to prove that I have a place to live, that I have a regular salary, that I have been paying my taxes, et cetera. And after all that, they asked me for a personal interview.

That interview happened last October. And after that interview, I received my permanent residence. It's now a sticker in my passport, saying that I have the permission to remain in Germany for an unlimited period of time.

This is a very good feeling.

I like the fact that no matter what happens, I can call Europe home. And I actually like this home. The other day, I saw this large billboard (see picture below) in a metro station. It's actually a billboard showing a poster from the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, saying that Germany is a constitutional state, and there are equal rights for all, even in love. I must say, I am a big fan of the progressive thinking. So yes, I think I like my new home. We'll see how it goes.


  1. It's a huge achievement, so again, congrats! Isn't cool you can call a continent "home"? ;-)

    1. Zhu,

      Thank you! It's definitely a great feeling to have a home. I am slowly planting roots, and this is a big step.