Residence in Germany for Real Estate Owners and Investors
Real estate investors seeking to reside in Germany may find that the path is not as straightforward as other EU countries. On paper, Germany does not have a “Golden Visa” program that promises residency for the purchase of property alone. However, there are indeed ways in which economically advantaged individuals and families can obtain residence in Germany fairly easily.
Residence through Business Investment
One well-known path is through investment into the local economy. Establishing a business opportunity is an important aspect that overseas investors can satisfy to obtain a residence permit in Germany. This should be unsurprising to those who wish to reside in Europe’s strongest economic center. In order to reap the many benefits of living in Germany—which include a high quality of life, strong healthcare system, top public education, and relatively low crime rate in comparison to neighboring countries—for this path, residence for real estate owners must also include an economic component.
According to § 21 of the German Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz, AufenthG), non-EU foreign nationals can obtain residency in Germany by following the laws relating to self-employment.
The Initial Investment Criteria
To satisfy the monetary requirements, a minimum of 350,000 EUR solely for investment should be set aside. This translates into the following ways:
- The purchase of real estate: 250,000 EUR minimum
- The establishment of an entrepreneurial business investment towards regional development: 100,000 EUR minimum
Of course, a full business plan and other documentation must be prepared to establish the economic portion. Full details on obtaining a visa for self-employment can be viewed on our Residence Permit page.
Residence through Economic Independence
Another lesser-known path is through obtaining residence by proving that the applicant and his/her family have enough assets to live and thrive in Germany without any government dependence. This is substantiated through § 7 (1) Sentence 3 AufenthG, in which residency is “issued for a purpose not provided for by this law”. This is ideal for well-off families who may not necessarily have a robust business plan but can still prove the possession of a monthly passive income (at least 3,500 EUR) in addition to substantial assets (starting around 1 million EUR per family).
As there are very few resources and clear laws to guide the orchestration of this residence path, the counsel of a qualified attorney is highly recommended to streamline the process.
Pathways to citizenship
Both business investors and financially independent individuals considering staying in Germany for the long haul can look forward to a clear pathway to citizenship after several years of domicile in Germany. The initial 3-year residence permit can be converted into a settlement permit (also known as permanent residence) after three years for the principal applicant and after five years for their immediate family members (§ 21 (4) AufenthG). After eight years of residency, permanent residence holders can apply for German citizenship and obtain a German passport, which is known to rank as one of the highest passports in terms of travel freedom. The possession of B1-level German language capabilities is also required.
Certainly, individuals who seek to start a new life in Germany can seek the legal assistance of our attorneys, who have helped business professionals and investors navigate Germany’s legal system for years.