Family Reunion Visa Germany: An Ultimate Guide For International Students (2024)

Your family members can join you during your studies in Germany. Learn more about the required documents, application preconditions, eligibility, procedures and all other important information about getting a German family reunion visa.

Moving to a foreign country is an exciting, albeit challenging, task for most students. This new chapter of your life brings with it lots of novelties, opportunities and difficulties. Germany is not an exception in that regard. Based on our observation of hundreds of cases, most of the international students in Germany need at least one semester to adapt to the new environment that they have to face in Germany. In fact, some of the students cannot cope with the novelties and even leave the country during or after the first semester. 


However, it has to be emphasized that there are multiple ways through which international students can turn this transitional period into a much smoother and more enjoyable experience! One of them is to bring your family with you to Germany. Did you know that some of your family members can accompany you in Germany during your studies through a special type of visa called "Family Reunion Visa"?  If this is a type of German visa that you would like to learn more about, then you are in the right place, as here we address the fundamental questions related to the family reunion visa.

It is our goal to inform you honestly and accurately, therefore, we need to add a DISCLAIMER:

You should use this text as a general guide, but it cannot be a legal consultation. The visa regulations are made and executed by the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt), Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI), and the local Foreigners’ Offices (Ausländerbehörde). Please be aware: Some rules and procedures can vary from embassy/consulate to embassy/consulate (even within one country), and from Ausländerbehörde to Ausländerbehörde in Germany. That is why we highly recommend you also consult the German representation abroad near you, and the local Foreigners’ Office in Germany (which Ausländerbehörde is responsible for you depends on your residence in Germany) for information that applies to your case.

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What is a Family Reunion Visa?

German family visa (Visum zur Familienzusammenführung/Familiennachzug) is a type of visa that allows family members of international students to join them in Germany during their studies. In other words, as an international student, you have a right to bring some of your family members with you as a holder of a German student visa/ student residence permit. 


Keep in mind that not all of your relatives are permitted to join you during your studies. Generally speaking, depending on the individual cases, family members that are eligible to accompany you during your studies in Germany are your spouse (wife, husband), your child and your parent. It is noteworthy that the family visa requirements differ based on who will join you. Put differently, the documentation package and the prerequisites needed for your child to join you are not the same as in the case of your spouse joining you on your German student visa.

Who can apply for a Family Reunion visa in Germany?

Actually, it is more about who should apply rather than who can apply for a German family reunion visa. Basically, whatever the country of origin of your family member (e.g., your spouse), s/he will be able to come and stay with you in Germany.  The thing is that depending on the country of origin, your family member may or may not need a visa and/or a residence permit. In total, we can distinguish between three groups of countries based on the need for a visa and residence permit for a German Family Reunion Visa:

  1. Countries whose citizens need neither a visa nor a residence permit to join you during your studies in Germany. For example, family members from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland fall into this category, as, basically, they have the same rights as Germans.

  2. States whose citizens do not need a visa but need a residence permit. For instance, the USA and the UK.

  3. Countries whose citizens need both a visa and a residence permit. For example, China and India.

Below you can find the full list of countries divided according to these categories.

Group 1 (EU + 4)

No visa or residence permit needed.


Group 2 (USA, UK, Canada, South Korea, Brazil, El Salvador +8)

No visa needed, but residence permit (after arrival).


Group 3 (rest of the world)

Always need a student visa.


How long is a Family Reunification visa valid for?

The family reunification visa is valid for at least the duration of your studies. In other words, a German family visa is valid for a minimum of 1 year. For example, if you are doing a 2-year Master's in Germany and you brought your spouse on a student visa, the family reunion visa for your her/him will be valid for at least 2 years.

Family Reunion Visa Germany: Processing Time

How long does it take to get a family reunion visa for Germany? Based on our research, in most cases, the processing time for a German family visa is around 3 months. Keep in mind that there is no universal processing time that applies to all cases. In some countries, German family visa processing time might take less (e.g., in China, it might take 8 weeks), while in others, it might take even over 3 months (e.g., in India, 3 months is a minimum required processing time). Hence, checking the processing times at your local German Embassy/Consulate is of utmost importance.


Further Reading

How Much Does it Cost to Live in Germany?

Can I work in Germany with a Family Reunion Visa?

Yes, your family members joining you during your studies can work with a family reunion visa in Germany. For example, after arriving in Germany with a family reunion visa, your spouse will have around 3 months to convert that German spouse visa into a residence permit for spouses. As soon as the residence permit is granted, your husband/wife will have a right to work in Germany.

Note: for receiving the relevant residence permit, your spouse will need to apply to the local Foreigners' Authority (i.e., local immigration office, in German - Ausländerbehörde). You can find more information regarding this procedure in the "How to apply for a Residence Permit for a German Family Reunion Visa?" section of this article.


Geeky Stuff Box

To study in Germany, most international students need a special type of residence permit for studying. This residence permit grants them the right to work in Germany, although with some limitations. In particular, international students can work in Germany 280 days per year part-time (e.g., up to 20 hours per week) or 140 days per year full-time (e.g., more than 20 hours per week).

What are the requirements for a Family Reunion Visa in Germany?

As already mentioned, depending on which family member is going to join you on your student visa in Germany, there can be slightly different requirements and prerequisites. In order not to further complicate the already complicated picture and not to confuse you with various subtypes, here we will focus on the most popular type of family reunion visa, which is the spouse visa in Germany.


Before introducing to you the general checklist of documents needed for the German spouse visa application, let us first present to you some prerequisites that you and your spouse need to meet so that your husband/wife can qualify for this type of family reunion visa.

General prerequisites for spouse visa

  1. Accommodation. As a student residence permit holder, you should have suitable accommodation in Germany for you and your spouse. In other words, your living space should be large enough to accommodate both of you. For example, a 16 sq.m. single room in a student dormitory will not qualify as adequate housing for a couple. It is noteworthy that student dormitories usually offer special housing that is sufficiently large for spouses. 

  2. Money. You should have enough money to care for both yourself and your spouse. Put differently, you should have sufficient finances to cover the living costs for your family without the support of public funds.

  3. Age. When applying for a family reunion/spouse visa, you and your partner should be at least 18 years old.

  4. Marriage. You and your spouse should have registered your marriage before you got your German student visa.

  5. Duration of your stay. The duration of your study course should be at least 1 year.

As for the documents that you need to apply for the German family reunion visa, in particular the German spouse visa, the list of required documents is usually provided on the websites of the local German Embassies/Consulates. Depending on the country of origin, there might be some slight differences in requirements. After looking through the requirements across various locations around the world, our team came up with the following general checklist of documents that you will usually need for your spouse visa application:

Checklist for the German family reunion visa/ German spouse visa

  • Completed application form. You can find the application forms on the website of the relevant German Embassy/Consulate responsible for your husband's/wife's application. The form is usually quite self-explanatory and easy to fill in. It asks you to provide information regarding your personal details, like your first and last names, date of birth, email, address, marital status, etc. Here is one of the examples of the German family reunion visa application form.

  • Completed declaration form. By doing this, your spouse confirms that the information s/he provided is accurate.

  • Passport. Your spouse's valid passport and copies of its data page. Besides, you need to provide copies of your passport's data page too.

  • Current biometric passport photos. The size of the photo should be 35(W) x 45(H). Your spouse's face in this photo should be clearly visible and should occupy 70-80% of the picture. This equals to 32-36mm of height. The background should be without shadows, bright and unicolored, preferably in neutral grey. Further details regarding the photo quality, head position and the rest can be found here.

  • Residence Permit. You should provide copies of your current student residence permit in Germany.

  • Marriage certificate.

  • In case of previous marriages: marriage, divorce, death certificates. This applies to both you and your spouse.

  • Birth certificate. Usually, your spouse should also provide a birth certificate for a German family reunion visa.

  • Invitation letter. You should write an informal letter of invitation confirming that you and your spouse will live together and that you will take the financial responsibilities with regard to your spouse.

  • Proof of funds. The proof that you have sufficient funds to cover your and your spouse's living costs in Germany.

  • Registration of the address (Meldebescheinigung). A certificate confirming your registration at a German address.

  • Proof of accommodation in Germany. E.g., a lease contract or a letter from your landlord confirming that you are staying in the specific dormitory.

  • Health insurance. Your spouse should provide valid insurance that covers the first 3 months of his/her stay in Germany. At this point, travel insurance usually suffices.

  • Additional documents might be requested in individual cases. For example, a letter of motivation.


Note: All of the German family visa documents should be submitted as originals with two attached copies unless stated otherwise. Incomplete documentation may lead to the rejection of the family reunion visa application.

Regarding the German language certificate. In general, when one applies for a family reunion visa, s/he will need to provide proof of knowledge of A1 level of the German language by providing Goethe, TestDaf or other accepted certificates. In other words, usually, the German language is mandatory for a family reunion visa. However, some German Embassies/Consulates also explicitly mention that if your spouse is going to join you on a temporary basis, then there is no need for a German A1 certificate (e.g., check German Missions in Pakistan and German Mission to Kenya, Somalia and the Seychelles). It is noteworthy that you, as a student visa holder, have a temporary German residence permit, which means that your spouse is also joining you on a temporary basis. Consequently, in this case, no German language certificate should be required from your spouse. Despite that, we still recommend you to double-check this information with the German Embassy/Consulate responsible for your spouse's family reunion visa.

Table 1: Examples of family reunion visa requirements across German Embassies/Consulates




German family reunion visa - India


German Missions in India

German family reunion visa - China


German Missions in China

German family reunion visa - Nigeria


German Missions in Nigeria

German family reunion visa - Uzbekistan


German Embassy in Tashkent

German family reunion visa - Pakistan


German Missions in Pakistan

German family reunion visa - Kenya


German Embassy in Nairobi

German family reunion visa - Philippines


German Embassy in Manila

Once again: it is crucial to consult the websites of the German Embassies/Consulates as the requirements might vary. For example, German Missions in Kazakhstan require 3 biometric photos for the family reunion (spouse) visa application, while the German Embassy in Tbilisi (Georgia) requires 2 biometric photos.


Further Reading

10 things you need to know about scholarships

How to apply for a Family Reunion Visa in Germany?

Getting an appointment for a German family reunion visa might take months. Besides, your family member might end up waiting another 3 months before her/his family visa is processed. Consequently, you all should plan months ahead and apply as early as possible if you want your family members to be in Germany at the desired time.

The procedure for applying for a family visa in Germany may vary slightly from country to country. Despite this, you have to know about NINE key steps to get the German family reunion visa:


Make sure that all of the prerequisites that qualify your family members for the family visa are met.


Start collecting the documents required for the German family reunion visa application. You can find all of the required documents in the "Family Reunion" (or  Familiennachzug) section of the website of the German Embassy/Consulate responsible for your family visa application. Important: Certify and translate the documents as required by the local German Embassy/Consulate.


Book the appointment at the German Embassy/Consulate responsible for your application. You can find the German mission near you here. Note: you need to have all of the necessary documents ready by the time of your appointment. In other words, you can start collecting your documents both before and after you book the appointment. The key is that by the time you visit the Embassy/Consulate, you have all of the necessary documents in your hands.


Visit the Embassy/Consulate. Make sure you are there at least 15 minutes before the appointment.


Submit the documents. All of the documents should be ordered according to the checklist provided by your local German Embassy/Consulate. Do not staple the documents!


Pay the fee for processing your German family visa application. The fee for a German family reunion visa application is 75 Euros. Applicants have to pay the money in the local currency based on the exchange rate at the time of application. As for the payment methods, these vary from country to country. In some cases, the applicant will need to pay in cash only, in other cases with a credit card, yet in other cases, only a demand draft might be acceptable. Keep in mind that the fee is not reimbursable. In other words, even if your application for the German family visa is rejected, you will not get your money back.


Complete the interview. It will take around 10-15 minutes. The interview questions will mainly be regarding your personal background and the purpose of your travel.


Wait for the response. You will probably need to wait around 3 months (the timing depends on the German Embassy/Consulate in your country).


Collect your passport and visa.

Do not forget to check procedural information that applies to your specific case on the website of your local German Embassy/Consulate.

How to apply for a Residence Permit for a German Family Reunion Visa?

Let us stress this once again: if your family members are from the EU member-state, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, they do not need a residence permit. If they are not from the mentioned countries, they will need a residence permit for a family reunion.


For instance, if your spouse needs a German spouse visa to join you in Germany, the visa is usually valid for 3 months. After arriving in Germany, your wife or husband will need to get a residence permit for the German spouse visa within 3 months. Ideally, your spouse should apply for the German family reunion residence permit 6 weeks before the family visa expires


Usually, it takes around 4-6 weeks for the Foreigners' Authority Office responsible for your residence permit application to process your enquiry. In other words, the processing time for your German family reunion residence permit is around 1-1.5 months. Do not forget that the application is not free: the fee for the German family reunion residence permit is around 100 Euros.


As far as the documents required for the family reunion residence permit in Germany are concerned, they are not very much different from the documents needed for the visa application. Below you will find the checklist of the basic documents you will need for the spouse residence permit in Germany.

Checklist of the documents for the German family reunion/German spouse residence permit:

  1. Filled-out application form. You can find the application forms on the website of the Foreigners' Authority responsible for your application. 

  2. Valid Passport. Make sure that your passport's expiry date is not very close and that it has enough free pages left.

  3. Current biometric photo.

  4. Valid entry visa (if applicable).

  5. Marriage certificate.

  6. Language certificate (if applicable). A German A1 certificate might be required.

  7. Certificate of registration at your German address (Meldebescheinigung).

  8. Proof of accommodation. For example, your rental contract.

  9. Health insurance. In this case, it should be, for example, statutory German health insurance rather than travel insurance.

  10. Proof of sufficient financial resources.

  11. Additional documents might be requested in individual cases.

Do not forget to certify and translate the documents as required by the local Foreigners' Authority Office. In general, make sure always to double-check the information regarding the procedure and requirements for the German family reunion residence permit at the Foreigners' Authority Office responsible for your application!


Check out the table below for location-specific examples.

Table 2: Examples of family reunion residence permit requirements across German cities