I'm a US citizen married to a German national. I am about to move to Germany and to start the application process to obtain a residence/work permit via my German spouse with a local German Ausländeramt as directed by the consulate general in New York. For US citizens, the process may be started, as a special case, after entering Germany.

The set of rules to follow to obtain the permit (per the consulate) is here: http://www.germany.info/contentblob/4574158/Daten/5678142/MoveGermanyGermanSpouse.pdf

At the bottom there is a section:

Work will be automatically permitted on approval of the residence permit.

My question is: What kind of residence/work permit will be granted? Is it valid for Germany or anywhere in the EU (including or excluding Switzerland?), and does it have a time limit? I cannot find any details about what sort of permit will be granted.

  • 1
    A German permit does not of itself allow you to work in other EU countries, but if you move to another EU or EEA country with your German spouse, you will enjoy a nearly automatic right to work on the basis of your marriage.
    – phoog
    Nov 25, 2016 at 2:04

1 Answer 1


In the EU, a work permit can only ever be valid in a single country. Depending on your situation, you might or might not have a right to work in other countries but would still need to complete some formalities in that country. Specifically, if your German spouse moves to another EU country, you have an automatic right to live and work there (the same rules more-or-less apply to Switzerland). But you cannot use your German permit to work in Switzerland or move there so easily without your spouse.

The permit itself will definitely have a limited period of validity. I am not sure exactly how long the validity of the first permit is going to be but it should be renewed as a matter of course as long as you are still married and living in Germany with your spouse. After three years, you would qualify for a Niederlassungserlaubnis, which is valid for ten years and a kind of permanent status in the sense that the ten-year card should be renewed without reexamining your circumanstances.

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