I'm a US citizen marrying a German citizen and want to move to Germany to live but I have a criminal record an owe child support in the US. Is there a way to accomplish this?

  • I vaguely recall an exception for US citizens (although I am not sure) but note that in many cases a basic knowledge of German is required to get a spousal visa. You should investigate this as well.
    – Gala
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 17:56
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    Do you already have a passport? If you don't and owe more than $2500, your application will be refused.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 19:27
  • @mkennedy maybe I'm crazy but child support is a recurring thing right? He didn't say he has a debt in it. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 14:25
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    He did state that he owes child support. It could be that the recurring obligation is over, but he didn't pay all of it, or it may be ongoing, because the kids are still minors.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 14:57
  • @SebastiaanvandenBroek I think both interpretations are possible, I first thought the OP failed to make some payments and had arrears but you're right that he was perhaps only referring to an ongoing obligation. I amended my answer accordingly, thanks!
    – Gala
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 18:20

1 Answer 1


A criminal record is actually less of an issue for spousal visas than for any other type of visa so it's definitely possible to accomplish this. The reason for that is that the courts have to balance the interests of society in general against the right to a family life, which is also strongly protected.

Therefore, the mere fact you have a record does not automatically disqualify you, it will come down to the severity of the crime and any other indication that you currently present a danger to society. I don't actually know this for a fact but I also suspect that paying what you owe would help make your case stronger (unlike a record, not paying child support speaks to your current conduct) so settle any debt you may have and make sure not to miss any payment, as applicable.

Beyond that, I would urge you to instruct a lawyer with a practice in German immigration law. You have to be very careful about the way you argue your case and random advice you get on the web can only bring you so far in complex situations like this one.

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    I would add that the rules for moving to any other EU country with a German spouse may be less restrictive, so if the conviction proves to be a problem, they might want to consider moving elsewhere. After six months or more, they would be eligible to move to Germany under the EU rules instead of the German rules.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 5:04

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