German Law/Marriage laws + freedom of movement in EU
QUESTION: Hi Andreas !
First, thanks so much for doing this. I think you may get a kick out of our current situation. I am Pakistani but a Canadian permanent resident, currently residing in canada. He has both German and Canadian citizenship (German father). We want to get married and be together.
a) can we do this anywhere (the marrying) or does it have to be Germany or Canada ? For example - can we get married in London (UK)?
b) my citizenship normally requires a visa to enter the Schengen states. If we are already married thigh can I enter straight away and apply for my documents from within Germany - or do I need a separate visit visa ?
c)do I need a level of German right from the start ? I am very interested in learning.
d) lastly, I'm an engineer in Canada...does that help my cause/win me any points ?
Thanks again !!
ANSWER: Thanks for putting your questions in such a neat and organized order already!
a) You can get married anywhere you want, provided that country allows you to get married on whatever visa you will enter it. In your example, your husband won't have any problem, but I don't know what type of visa you will have in order to go to the UK and if that would allow you to get married there. (That would be a question of UK law.)
b) You would still need a visa for Germany. Being married to a German citizen just means that you will get it more easily. Also, spouses of German citizens don't need to pay the application fee when applying for a Schengen visa at a German embassy/consulate.
Now it's get tricky: With your spouse being German, he enjoys freedom of movement anywhere in the EU. Once you are married, that will extend to you (EC regulation 2004/38), meaning that if you travel together, you can go/live anywhere within the EU with your spouse without a visa. You will only need to take your marriage certificate. BUT that doesn't apply to Germany (because in Germany, your husband is not exercising his EU freedom of movement rights). Because Germany is surrounded by Schengen states, you can however still cross the border (except by plane) to Germany because nobody will notice it.
Whether you choose that route depends on your plans. If you wish to settle in Germany, it's better to get the spousal residence visa beforehand. If you wish to settle in any other EU country, you don't need to worry about it because the EC regulation 2004/38 is much easier on you than German immigration law and supersedes the respective domestic immigration laws (including in the UK which you mentioned in your example).
c) + d) For the spousal visa, a knowledge of German at A1 level is usually required before entering Germany (§§ 28 I 5, 30 I i Nr. 2 AufenthG). That's a very basic level, which is not too hard to attain. The best way would be to take a test with the Goethe Institute, which you can also do without taking their expensive course before. You can self-study and just attend the test when you feel ready.
Because you have a university degree, you could apply for an exemption from the language requirement. It is generally granted, although the embassy/consulate could ask to be convinced that you will be likely to get integrated in Germany without the language skills. In my experience, it's easier to do the A1 test instead of face a lot of questions.
All the best!
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Wow Andreas thanks! That was a really fast response! It gives me much food for thought - but I'm a bit confused about b):
"If you wish to settle in any other EU country, you don't need to worry about it because the EC regulation 2004/38 is much easier on you than German immigration law and supersedes the respective domestic immigration laws (including in the UK which you mentioned in your example)."
Are you saying that - say, we are married - if I were to move straight to France it would be easier for me than moving to Germany? And that I could eventually settle there? And is the UK really also an option for this (even though it's not a Schengen state?)
We are open to living anywhere in the EU, even though he is in Germany now, it is flexible! But I would eventually like to settle wherever we choose and have a longer resident permit - would this be possible in any EU state or does it have to be just for Germany (since his passport is german)?
Most importantly, if I've understood the above correctly, does going this route of living in another EU country afford me the right to also work and/or study in these countries?
Thank you, have been very helpful!
Yes, it includes ANY EU country EXCEPT Germany. It has nothing to do with Schengen. That means you have 27 beautiful countries to choose from. This includes the UK, but I don't know why someone would want to settle in the UK when you can also live in Croatia or Italy. ;-)
And yes, it's much easier than settling in Germany, ironically. You don't even need a visa or a residence permit or anything. Your right to reside there derives directly from EC regulation 2004/38 as long as your husband is residing there as well and exercising one of his EU Treaty rights (working, studying, being self-employed or so on).
You can however apply for an EEA residence card if you wish to. It's issued for 5 years initially and will prove to potential employers that you do indeed live in the EU and have the right to work.
Because, yes, the EU freedom of movement comes with full and unlimited rights to employment, running a business, any economic activity, studying, anything.