I am a dual citizen (born in the UK, living in South Africa, dual UK / South African citizenship.

My child is also a British citizen. However, my wife is not and only has South African citizenship.

I want to potentially move to an EU country (Germany or the Netherlands). How will my wife be able to legally join me? Does it differ from EU country to country?

2 Answers 2


It doesn't differ much from EU country to EU country (except your own country, where you are generally not covered by EU rules) because, as soon as you are making use of your right to freedom of movement, her right to join you is grounded in EU law.

Your wife needs a visa to enter the Schengen area (including Germany and the Netherlands) but if she is traveling with you or your child, she is covered by the EU freedom of movement. That means the visa should be free of charge and the requirements are minimal (she does not need to establish a valid purpose, financial means, etc. like other applicants but only to document her relationship with you, the fact that you are an EU citizen and that you would be travelling together).

Similarly, as long as you are living together, she can get a residence card quite easily. The most important condition to stay longer than 3 months is for you to have a job or enough money to be above the threshold to receive welfare. Your situation is very much like that described in US Citizen with EU Spouse who doesn't yet have a job (with the caveat that US citizens do not need a visa to enter, while your wife does) and Moving to Frankfurt with my Swedish wife, I am not EU citizen.

Importantly, your wife does not need to meet the more onerous requirements of “family reunification” visas for the family of a German citizen (like the language certificate) and she could apply for the residence card directly even if she entered on a short-stay visa. The-family-of-an-EU citizen route is therefore noticeably easier.

  • 3
    someone explain their downvote please?
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 0:27
  • Gala, great detailed answer. Thanks. Do I understand you then that the would apply for a Schengen visa to enter only? Also, is the "family reunification" visa you mention the same as a EEA family permit?
    – Will777
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 3:49
  • Not exactly, the family reunification visa is closer to a “spouse visa” in the UK. “EEA family permit” is a purely British thing. In the Schengen area, the equivalent would be a regular Schengen visa with the fees and some key requirements waived. Your wife should indeed be able to apply for that (that's exactly what the Lebanese citizen in the linked question did).
    – Gala
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 5:29
  • At the same time, some documents on the embassy's website does suggest they also issue “family reunification” visas to the family of EU citizens residing in Germany. As far as I know, that's not quite correct and not what other embassies do but if they want to give you that, why not. The important thing is that they absolutely may not demand a language test or ask you to prove your accommodation meets a certain standard or your wages are above a certain threshold (those requirement only apply to the spouses of German and third-country citizens, not EU citizens).
    – Gala
    Commented Aug 25, 2017 at 5:32
  • 1
    Two minor points here: 1) when Gala refers to "your own country", he/she is referring to the UK. The rules of your spouse joining you in the UK are very different from the rest of the EU (the EU is dramatically simpler). 2) Much of this is likely to change with Brexit. If you're considering doing this, should pay careful attention to the worst-case-scenario of a Brexit without an agreement, and track going-ons in the news. Make sure you apply for anything as soon as possible, and make sure you keep track of changing requirements. Commented Aug 29, 2017 at 21:26

You would go to the German Embassy, and apply for a family permit, Visa for the purpose of familial/spousal reunification, as it is called.

  • 2
    This is completely the wrong advice, that's for the members of the family of German citizens and non-EU citizens, not people in the OP's situation.
    – Gala
    Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 20:24

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