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German Law/Marrying an Asylum Seeker in Germany


Hello Andreas,

I am an American living in Germany. I work as a DOD civilian, so I am covered under the SOFA agreement. I fell in love with a Nigerian asylum seeker. He has been seeking asylum under a false identity. He originally came to Germany under his actual name and with a legal visa, however, when the visa expired, he wanted to stay in Germany. He believed the only way to stay would be to seek asylum.

Our dilemma is that we would like to get married, but we don't know how to go about it. I would love to get married in the States because that is where my family is, but I don't know if my fiancÚ will be able to get a visa to come back to Germany to live with me since he overstayed the original visa. We have also thought about trying to get married here under the assumed identity, but then we don't know how to go about doing that as well. We would greatly appreciate any advice or suggestions you have to offer. Thanks in advance! :)

Hello Val,

that's a tricky situation, but not an uncommon one. I would usually recommend to come clean and to get married under his real identity. Anything else will lead to heaps of problems later on, from applying for visas, eventually citizenship, and just imagine if you will have children one day. It would be a legal mess, the untangling of which will only make the lawyer rich.

If he comes clean in Germany and you apply for a marriage license under his real identity (for which he might first have to apply for a new passport with the Nigerian Consulate), he faces the danger of being fined for the use of the fake identity (although the German authorities may already have found this out in the asylum proceeding), but more seriously he faces the danger of deportation. Because you don't fall under German immigration law, you cannot extend any protection to him before you will be married. Thus, it is a question of how soon you'll be able to get married and if this will happen before any deportation would take place.
I would therefore recommend to get all the paperwork ready (his passport, birth certificate and a recent statement from Nigeria that he is single) and then apply for a wedding where you can get a quick appointment, maybe a small municipality. Generally, if you accept a wedding date during the week, it will be a much shorter wait.

Other alternatives are: (1) Getting married in the US (as you have noted), but this leads to a double visa problem, once getting to the US and then getting to Germany. (2) Getting married in another Schengen state. Denmark has traditionally been very liberal and has been marrying people without asking for immigration paperwork, as long as both have a passport. (3) Getting married in Nigeria and then getting your husband sponsored under the SOFA.

In any case, I wish you both all the best!

Andreas Moser

German Law

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Andreas Moser


Extensive experience in international family law, especially international child abductions and child custody cases. All other areas of German law as well: constitutional law, criminal law, business and contract law, immigration law, inheritance law, and so on.


Lawyer in Germany from 2002 to 2009. Lawyer for US Army JAG Corps before. Bar-certified specialisation in family law and in administrative law. Articles and lectures about international and domestic family law.


2000 Law Degree from University of Regensburg, Germany 2002 admitted to the bar (until 2009) 2013 MA Philosophy at the Open University, UK

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