I am in the process of marrying my German partner, which will hopefully be completed within the next 6 months. I am an American citizen who has been living and working in Germany legally for the past 3 years. I have only a one year contract this year, and I know that it will not be renewed (related to the Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetzes). I was planning to apply for unemployment benefits after switching my residence permit from an employment-based one to a family-reunification one (because we are getting married).

Someone said that any future application for permanent residence or even citizenship might be affected if I claim unemployment benefits after this contract ends. Is this true? Would they actually deny someone who is married to a German citizen and has been living and working in Germany for years a permanent residence card because of a period of unemployment where they claimed the benefits they had been paying into for years?

In short, should I be concerned about or avoiding claiming my unemployment benefits when this contract ends (if I have not secured a different job in the meantime) so as not to negatively affect a future application for a permanent residence permit?

(I ask because we could probably live on my partner's income alone, just not save anything, but also I think that since they will have been deducting this unemployment insurance from my pay for four years I should be entitled to claim the benefit without penalty.)

  • 1
    That statement from 'someone' is compleatly without foundation (in both cases). A Niederlassungserlaubnis can be applied for after 60 contributions to the pension system. When married to a German citizen: 3 years. Nov 8, 2022 at 8:54
  • @MarkJohnson thank you. It was actually someone commenting on a different stack exchange question I had about a year ago. I ignored it at the time because my issue was resolved without needing to resort to applying for unemployment, but now that it is looking likely, I thought I might check on this. QUESTION: Do you mean that once I am married I can apply for a Niederlassungserlaubnis (because I will have already made over 3 years worth of contributions) or that I will need to wait until 3 years' worth of contributions after the date of our marriage?
    – N Glynn
    Nov 8, 2022 at 11:50
  • 1
    I am not sure, but they will tell you that when you change the residence permit type. Nov 8, 2022 at 12:26

1 Answer 1


I have only a one year contract this year […]

Since you (specifically your employer(s) on behalf of you) have made contributions to the unemployment insurance system (≈ FUTA) for at least 12 months in the past 30 months, you are at first eligible for Unemployment Benefits Ⅰ (Arbeitslosengeld).

Unemployment Benefits Ⅰ is designed like an insurance, unintentional unemployment being the “event of damage”. The right to benefit is independent from marital status, residence, or whether you really need it, but it must be possible for you to start working in Germany tomorrow (e. g. valid work permit).

NB: You have to announce pending unemployment, at best 3 months ahead, otherwise you might face a disqualification period (Sperrzeit). This is not an application for UBⅠ, but (theoretically) meant to provide early assistance to you in finding a new job.

[…] future application for permanent residence or even citizenship might be affected if I claim unemployment benefits […]

Yes/no, generally speaking, an applicant for a PR or citizenship must prove he can make a living. This especially means that he does not depend on state welfare. However, there are some (state welfare) benefits that are ignored in that assessment. In particular, all benefits that are based on prior contributions are harmless. Pension and unemployment benefits Ⅰ are only granted if you have paid contributions beforehand.

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