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Shortly after I am getting married (I am in my mid-twenties), toward the end of this year, we are both planning on moving to Germany. She is a US/EU dual citizen and I am a US citizen. I plan on continuing to work for a US company as a remote worker, and not working for a company located in Germany. What do I need to apply for to ensure that I can stay in Germany legally?

We are not going to be married until shortly before we intend to leave. It appears that the usual way of getting a residence permit is out of the question as it requires a 3 month lead time.

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    Two other things are important to answer: Is your wife German? What will her status be in Germany? – Gala Apr 8 '14 at 13:43
  • She is Polish - so she would be an EU citizen with an EU passport, but not German. – STRML May 23 '14 at 5:31
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    What I meant by status is will she be working in Germany or not? As explained in my answer, if she has a job, that's the best scenario, you have a right to stay there with her and work without restrictions (either for a German or a foreign employer). You will need to contact the Ausländerbehörde, apply for a residence card, and prove you are her husband, but that's about it. If she will not be working then I am not quite sure how it's supposed to work. – Gala May 23 '14 at 8:12
  • The overarching issue is this: your new wife is Polish. Are you going to try to get Polish citizenship/passport, or not? Cheers... – user971 May 25 '14 at 11:41
  • @Fatster: why do you think is this relevant? – SztupY May 25 '14 at 18:37
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The EU Treaty Article 39 covers the freedom of movement of workers, etc. for member states. The treaty says that each country has to establish laws allowing EU citizens to move around the EU with their family members. One of the stipulations is that this has to not only covered registered spouses, but also non-registered partners.

While this was likely instituted to cover same-sex couples, it seems it can apply to your situation as well:

If you live together with a partner in a stable and continuous way, you have certain EU-wide rights, even if you have not registered your partnership with any authority.

If you move with your de facto partner to another EU country, that country must facilitate his or her entry and residence there if you can prove you live together or prove in some other way that you are in a long-term relationship. (Source)

This permission is conditional on your partner being:

  1. Gainfully employed -or-
  2. Self-employed
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The best solution would seem to use your wife's citizenship to gain the right to reside in Germany. You could conceivably try to apply for a work visa, “highly skilled migrant” visa or something like that but that's always a lot of trouble and I am not even sure if that's possible without a local employer sponsoring you.

I don't have any first-hand experience with this in Germany, but since your wife is an EU citizen I think you can just enter the country and apply for a residence card (Aufenthaltskarte). Following recent court decisions and changes in the law, this is not regarded as a “permit” anymore but is only declarative in nature. As the husband of someone making use of her right to free movement, you can reside in the same country and work without restriction. The card only documents this pre-existing right. If you do need a visa, it should be issued quickly and free of charge. All this assumes your wife is not German and does indeed fulfill the conditions (i.e. she must have a job, be self-employed or be able to prove she has sufficient means to support herself). Source: europa.eu.

If your wife is in fact German, then it's a completely different story. EU law does not generally apply and most people need to get a specific visa before entering the country and prove some knowledge of German (i.e. you can't enter on a regular Schengen visa and sort things out later). I assume that this is the procedure with a 3-month lead time you heard about. But since you are a US citizen, it doesn't apply to you, you don't need a visa or German-language proficiency test and can apply for the permit (Aufenthalstitel) from within the country:

Staatsangehörige Australiens, Brasiliens, El Salvadors, Israels, Japans, Kanadas, Neuseelands, Südkoreas und der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika können die erforderliche Aufenthaltsgenehmigung auch nach der Einreise einholen.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

In any case, it will take several months before you get your residence card/permit but you can stay legally in the country in the meantime (you will get some document acknowledging your application). Since you don't need to apply in advance, the fact that you just married does not seem particularly relevant.

You should probably contact the nearest German consulate to verify all this. You could also contact the Ausländerbehörde from the place you are going to in Germany as you will need to deal with them after you move. They should be able to tell you what they can or cannot do and which documents they require in practice.

  • Hey Gael, great point about the difference if the spouse is German (I assumed not). The only issue is that the two are not married currently, which complicates the process in some cases (there are different requirements for non-married couples). Could you add a bit on how that would work if the partner is a German citizen? – jmac Apr 11 '14 at 3:01
  • @jmac Good question, I don't know precisely but I don't think it's relevant in this case as they will be married when entering Germany and, unlike most other people, US citizen can enter the country without a visa and sort things out later. – Gala Apr 11 '14 at 12:49

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