Under the Surinder Singh ruling, an EU citizen can choose to be treated under EU freedom of movement law in his or her own country after having exercised freedom of movement in another EU country.

This is reflected in EU documents. For example (emphasis added):

if you are an EU citizen and have never lived in another EU country only national rules will apply..

However, materials from Germany seem to omit the possibility for Germans to be treated under EU law after living elsewhere in the EU. For example:

Familienangehörige von Deutschen bekommen keine Aufenthaltskarte nach dem Freizügigkeitsgesetz.... [translation: Family members of Germans cannot get a residence card according to the freedom of movement law....]

Does Germany in fact allow Germans to bring their family members to Germany under freedom of movement when they've lived elsewhere in the EU? If so, is there an official source where this information is available?

  • I don't think there's been a ruling in Germany yet. Some will tell you that EU law in that case is directly applicable and has precedence over German law. I'm sure you have found some litterature about it. However I don't know about anyone who's done it. "Familienangehörige von Deutschen bekommen keine Aufenthaltskarte nach dem Freizügigkeitsgesetz" because their case is ruled by the (tougher) Aufenthaltsgesetz, and if they're EU, they don't need a card at all. In theory one of the two should be amended.
    – Yves
    Mar 28, 2017 at 23:27

1 Answer 1


When trying to apply for "Familiennachzug" for your spouse from a non-EU country, Germany does recognize it follows EU instead of German law if you have lived in another EU country for 2 years.

For example your spouse does not need to prove language skills as she would have if German law applied:

Keinen Sprachnachweis vor der Einreise müssen Sie zudem erbringen, wenn

Ihr Ehegatte Deutscher ist und er zuvor durch einen längeren Aufenthalt in einem anderen EU-Mitgliedstaat von seinem europäischen Freizügigkeitsrecht Gebrauch gemacht hat,


So your best bet is to get a lawyer to navigate German and EU law. Most likely it is possible. But you need to get a professional and from my experience you don't need one to tell you that it's possible, but to tell them that it's possible. Because as unclear as it may seem to us... it's not like the German authorities have the secret handbook of laws and regulations where it's easy to look it up. It's just as unclear to them.

I just read your second link. It does not say that EU Freizügigkeit does not apply for the German. It only says if you are the non-EU relative/spouse of a EU citizen, you yourself must apply for a normal German permit, not for "EU Freizügigkeit". Applying for EU Freizügigkeit for the relative/spouse only works if the relative/spouse is a EU citizen as well.

Again, go get a lawyer that can navigate German laws and language.

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