The German passport is widely recognized as one of the world’s most powerful passports. Citizens of Germany have visa-free access to more than 185 nations. While there is no specific residency or citizenship by investment program in Germany, Article 21 of the German Residence Act allows foreign investors to acquire a three-year national resident permit through investment under certain conditions.
In this article, we’ll focus on how you can get residency in Germany through investment, which then can lead to citizenship. But before we delve into the details, we’ll begin with the benefits of making an investment in Germany.
Why Get a Germany Investment Visa
When you invest in Germany, you get many benefits along with a residency.
A Strong Economy
Germany is one of the best countries to invest in thanks to its robust economy, central location, and its role in the EU. It’s also referred to as the economic powerhouse of Europe. When you invest in Germany, you become a part of a strong economy.
Quality of Life
Germany boasts a high quality of life for its residents. The country’s social security system and employment opportunities are vast, along with the education and healthcare facilities. According to the Human Development Index, Germany’s quality of life is the sixth-highest in the world.
When you invest in Germany, your immediate family members can also apply for residency in the country. Your spouse and dependent children under the age of 18 can also become eligible for a residency permit. Your adult children who are dependent on you can become eligible too.
Route to Citizenship
Making an investment in Germany and living there can lead to citizenship. After six to eight years of residency in the country, you might be eligible for a German passport, which grants you visa-free/visa on arrival-travel rights to over 185 countries across the world.
How Can I Get German Citizenship by Investment
Germany doesn’t have direct citizenship by investment or a Golden Visa program. But if you start a qualifying business in the country, you can be eligible for German residency. After three years, you might get a permanent residence. After spending six to eight years in Germany in total, you can be eligible for German citizenship.
If you want to take this route, the requirement is that the business you’re going to start will significantly contribute to the German economy – such as employing at least five new people. You may expect to get permanent residency in Germany after three years once you complete your investment.
Before applying for citizenship in Germany, you’ll also need to have lived in the country for an uninterrupted period of at least six years.
Requirements To Get Germany Investor Visa
To be eligible for a self-employment visa and start a business in Germany, there are some criteria that you’ll need to meet:
- You’re at least 18 years old
- You have a solid business plan that addresses your objectives
- You have enough experience in the business you want to start in Germany
- You’re able to provide that your business will positively impact the German economy and satisfy the local or economic interest
- To be recognized as a German-based company, your firm or organization will hire at least five people in Germany
- You’ll raise the cash required for the firm through equity financing or a loan commitment
- You don’t have a criminal record
How To Get German Citizenship by Investment
After starting a business in Germany, you may apply for citizenship after six to eight years. We’ve drafted the below steps to give you an overview.
Step 1: Create a Business Plan
The first step for getting an investor visa in Germany is to have a comprehensive business plan. Your plan must cover all details of your concept and explain why and how the German economy will benefit from your business. Your business plan will be evaluated by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Step 2: Apply for a Self-Employment Visa at the German Embassy
Once your business plan has been approved, you can start your application for a self-employment visa for entrepreneurial activities at the German embassy in your country of residence. This visa will give you the right to enter Germany to start a business.
Step 3: Arrive in Germany and Get Your Temporary Residence Permit
The immigration authorities will give you a three-year temporary residence permit when you arrive in Germany. This is valid for three years and can be renewed. You can live and run your firm in Germany with this temporary German residence permit.
Step 4: Become a Permanent Resident
You can become a permanent resident after three years of continuous residency in Germany. This is a huge step as becoming a permanent resident gives you bigger security regarding your residency status in the country.
Step 5: Apply for Citizenship
After you’ve resided in Germany lawfully for a total of eight years, you may apply to become a German citizen. If you are well integrated into German society and can communicate in German fluently, you may apply for citizenship after six years of continuous residence.
Application Processing Timeline
Here’s an approximate timeline for obtaining German citizenship by investing in a business:
- You get your business plan approved and receive your visa in four to six months
- After three years of temporary residency, you become eligible for permanent residency
- You become eligible for naturalization as a German citizen, after six or eight years in total
Once you qualify for a German investment visa, you and your immediate family members may apply for German visas. They’ll also have the right to get permanent residency and citizenship in the following years. The following family members can be included in your application:
- Your spouse
- Your minor children who are under the age of 18
- Adult children who are financially or due to a health issue dependent on you or your spouse
Required Documents for a German Entrepreneurial Visa
The below documents are needed when applying for a German entrepreneurial (self-employment) visa:
- A valid passport
- A passport-size photo
- Comprehensive business plan
- Comprehensive financing plan
- Your detailed resume/CV that lists your professional and academic qualifications, as well as any testimonials or references you may have
- A document that demonstrates your university education is relevant to your business concept
- Excerpt from German Trade Register — or at least the proof that you’ve already applied
- Proof of financial resources for the investment
- Show the registration document with the German Trade Register
- A document that shows the source of your funds
- Proof of residency in Germany— either a rental agreement or evidence of homeownership
- A German health insurance certificate
If you are 45 years or older, you’ll also need to show documents on your retirement plans, such as bank accounts, a pension, a personal pension, or life insurance.
Note that the German embassy where you start your application can ask for supporting documentation.
Extension of Germany Investor Visa
You will receive a three-year German residence permit if your application is accepted, but it can be extended for an additional three years. If you want to expand your residence permit, your company must be operational and in excellent financial health.
Those who have resided in Germany for eight years can acquire German citizenship by naturalization. Your family, which involves your spouse and children under the age of 18, can also be involved in your initial residence permit application, leading to German citizenship for all of you.
Benefits of Getting German Citizenship
Naturalization makes you a German citizen as well as a European Union national, with all the rights and obligations that entails:
You get voting rights: When you become a German citizen you’ll have the right to vote both local and national level
You get full access to the EU: Your German passport will grant you immediate freedom of movement within Europe, opening up even more possibilities: You can study, work, and reside without limitation in the EU, EEA countries, and Switzerland.
Traveling becomes simpler: It’ll be easier for you to travel and get visas for many countries outside Europe.
You’ll deal with less bureaucracy: Once you become a citizen, you’ll no longer need a residence permit and you won’t have to visit the Foreign Citizens’ Registration Authority.
Dual Citizenship in Germany
According to the German citizenship law, when you qualify for German citizenship, you’ll need to give up on your original citizenship. However, there might be some exemptions and the German authorities might allow you to keep both citizenships. This is rare but is something you should consider too.
If your main motivation is getting German citizenship through investment, speaking to professionals and legal advisors will help.
Alternatives to Germany Investor Visa
We’ve made a quick summary of two other Golden Visa programs in Europe which you might want to check out.
Portugal Golden Visa
Portugal is the most popular country when it comes to Golden Visa. Portugal Golden Visa scheme offers various different investment routes, such as real estate and fund subscriptions, in exchange for an investment starting from €280,000.
Greece Golden Visa
Greece is another country that attracts Golden Visa holders. If you invest a minimum of €250,000 in real estate in Greece, you might be eligible for Greece Golden Visa. The biggest highlight of the program is that there is no stay requirement.
The German investment visa program is an excellent opportunity for foreign entrepreneurs who wish to reside in a country that offers its citizens the chance to live and work freely and access Europe’s common market. Even if it’s not a direct route, you can gain German citizenship at the end of your investment journey.