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As stated in here,

highly qualified professionals can receive a settlement permit in accordance with Section 18c (3) AufenthG (German Residence Act) straight away without having to first spend a set amount of time in Germany.

If a person completes their Bachelor outside EU, Master's in Germany, then and enrolls to a PhD program in Germany, where they are legally employed, can that person considered as a "highly qualified professionals" so that they can apply for a settlement permit right away?

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  • As a PhD student you will have a residence permit anyway, either being a work permit or a student permit, a settlement permit (permanent residence) is also another kind of residence permit. It is very unlikely that you can get permanent residence immediately.
    – Dr. Snoopy
    Jul 11 '20 at 18:26
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    Usually, PhD students (= people with Master) do not qualify as highly qualified professionals for getting permanent residence permit immediately. Please also be careful with getting the residence permit for the purpose of study, see expatriates.stackexchange.com/a/20220/13223 for details. Try to get a residence permit as a worker (§18) or researcher (former §20 AufenthG, now probably 18d) and then get both Niederlassungserlaubnis and Daueraufenthalt-EU permanent residence permits according to §9 and 9a AufenthG. Half of years one spent in Germany as master student will be counted. Jul 13 '20 at 13:13
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    Please also check expatriates.stackexchange.com/a/17414/13223, which is very relevant to your situation Jul 13 '20 at 13:24

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