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How long can you leave Germany for without losing permanent residency?

Individuals with permanent residency cards in Germany have various rules and exceptions regarding the duration they can spend abroad without jeopardizing their status:

  1. General Rule of Six Months: Typically, a permanent residency permit expires six months after leaving Germany. However, exceptions apply:
  2. Extended Stay Abroad: Permanent residency holders can apply to stay abroad for longer under specific circumstances, such as caring for a sick family member abroad or participating in a Gastsemester (exchange semester) at a foreign university.
    Petitions for extended stays abroad, serving Germany’s interests, such as working for a corporation headquartered in Germany, are possible.
  3. Exemptions from the Six-Month Rule: No time limit applies to permanent residency holders married to or in a registered partnership with a German citizen.
    The same exemption applies to those with children under 18 in Germany.
    Individuals who have lived in Germany for 15 years and can demonstrate a secured livelihood, along with their spouse with a permanent residency card, are exempt.
    Special “Bescheinigung über ein unbefristetes Aufenthaltsrecht” (Certificate about a permanent stay) may be required for these exemptions at border control.
  4. EU Permanent Residency Holders: After residing in Germany for five years, individuals can obtain an EU permanent residency card (EU-Daueraufenthalt) allowing them to live and work throughout the EU.
    Holders can stay outside the EU for up to six months without losing the card, or up to 12 months if they previously held a Blue Card.
    Conditions for permanent status are similar to Niederlassungserlaubnis.
  5. Blue Card Holders: EU Blue Card holders can apply for permanent residency after three years in Germany.
    They may lose Blue Card status after 12 months outside Germany, but exceptions can be made, especially for those working for international companies.
  6. Brits with an Aufenthaltsdokument-GB: British citizens under the post-Brexit Withdrawal Agreement enjoy the same privileges as EU citizens and permanent residency holders.
    Residence document rules vary depending on the duration of prior residency in Germany:
    Less than five years: Similar rules to an ordinary permanent residence permit, allowing up to six months abroad (or 12 in exceptional circumstances).
    More than five years: Entitled to long-term residence rights, allowing an unlimited stay in Germany and up to five years abroad without losing residency status.

Please note that individuals falling under these exemptions may need to complete specific paperwork when re-entering Germany to avoid any issues at the border control.

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