I'm a US citizen. My spouse has Hungarian citizenship (as well as US).

As such, I know I can apply for permanent residence in Germany.

Here's the hitch:

I want to go over first, to find us a place to live. Then I'd bring her and the kids over afterwards.

But all the information I find about applying calls it "family reunification" and reads as though the EU spouse has to already live in Germany before I apply.

Can I go over first and apply for permanent residence in Germany on the basis of my EU spouse, or does she actually have to be physically present in Germany first?

  • Related: expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/6056/….
    – phoog
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 18:24
  • Followup: I ended up obtaining a work visa with the help of my company and a consulting company they paid to verify the legalities. I'm working in Germany now. When my wife arrives later this year, I'll switch to a family reunification visa.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Aug 29, 2016 at 20:33
  • family reunification visas are much harder to qualify for than EU residence cards. Don't go in asking about family reunification or they'll start talking about German language proficiency and the like.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 6:24
  • @phoog, could you give more details? Why are they harder to qualify for? How much language proficiency would be necessary? I do speak German; I'm somewhere between a B1 and B2 level.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 6:42
  • Under EU rules, there is no language requirement. Just make certain that you always make it clear that you're applying under EU rules as the spouse of a Hungarian citizen. The EU route is easier and less expensive, and it gives you stronger legal rights to remain in Germany.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 14:04

1 Answer 1


She has to be in Germany before you can apply for your residence permit. But you could go with your 90-days-in-180 visa-free stay as a US citizen, and lay the groundwork. Once she joins you, you can apply for your residence permit. You won't need to leave Germany to do that; as soon as she arrives, you get the EU right of freedom of movement.

For your wife to stay longer than 90 days, she'll need to show that she is either

  • Studying
  • Working
  • Looking for work, or
  • Wealthy enough to support herself without working

Your ability to stay will be dependent on hers, at least for the first five years.

  • Would my job qualify her to be "wealth enough to support herself"? (I'll be able to keep my job, as my company has a couple of branches in Germany.)
    – Kyralessa
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 12:55
  • @Kyralessa I'm not sure how that works. I think there have been some related questions here. IIRC she might have to get a part-time job of some sort at least; there's a limit to the job-seeker arrangement.
    – phoog
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 15:43
  • @Kyralessa also keep in mind you can't officially work in Germany until your wife arrives to Germany.
    – kiradotee
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 17:23
  • 1
    @kiradotee, my company has said they can pay me for 180 days while I work out of the country before they have to officially have a legal entity in that country. So I have some leeway.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 18:10

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