Residence Permit for Entrepreneurship

I want to start a business in Germany and while doing so I want to live here, too. How can I do that?

With the new law of 2012, the law wants to promote business immigration because formally a successful application only needs the following:

  • economic interest or a regional need for your project,
  • the expectation of positive effects of your business on the economy,
  • the security of the financing of the intention through equity or a credit promise of a domestic bank §21 AufenthG.
Oh, come on. Do I really not have to invest 250 k€ and hire five employees?

Absolutely not! This was the main rule valid from 2005 - August 2012. Of course, it will be positively considered as an advantage for Germany's economy when you invest so much and do hire 5 or more persons. Nevertheless, you always have to show up with a business plan. The success of your application stands and falls with the business plan!

But who is perfect?

Nobody. So, let me give you an example or two. If you want to open a new hamburger flipping store, forget it unless your first name is Ronald. If you want to open a boutique for the latest Indian fashion in an industrialized quarter: forget it. But if you want to open the Indian fashion store with high-end quality in a hot spot of a major city: great idea. Nevertheless, prepare your application diligently! What is wanted? IT, export of German goods, and the like. Anything that will bring jobs to Germany.

How will they test the workability?

You will have to hand in a business plan. Based upon that plan, the authorities will test your case. Count on this test to take two month’s time. But don’t forget the office will also consider the possibility of your business failing. Relevant authority is typically the state ministry of economy and / or Industry of Chamber and Commerce in the area of the prospected business. They will test your idea based upon:

  • your experience as an entrepreneur,
  • the level of capital you are investing,
  • the effects on the employment and the training situation,
  • the contribution you have made to innovation and research.
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I’m a senior business woman of 45 years old with 20 years of professional experience. I don’t want all of that greenhorn stuff of business plans. In respect with my outstanding experience that will surely make things easier for me, or?

Sorry, your experience does not at all relieve you of the formal prerequisites! You still must hand in a business plan. They only advantage you will have is that after recognizing your decades of experience the authorities might even agree more quickly. But there is also a catch: §21 IV AufenthG requires that you have and show a reasonable pension plan for retirement at old-age.

This does not at all sound interesting. I guess, I will have to go every year to immigration and get my permit renewed. How long do I get from the beginning?

You will get up to two years from start. After this period you will have to show the authorities that you are making money.

But all this seems to get me all wound up in red tape, where is the advantage of opening a business in Germany and not coming as an employee?

Alas, you shall be, well maybe not pampered, but favorably treated. After successfully running your business for three years, you will receive the permanent residency permit and not, as otherwise, after five years. How does that grab you??

But what if my plan fails? Will they kick me out immediately?

Relax. Plans can change – for good or for worse. Latest when the extension is due, you will have to show – as a minimum – break even and have enough private assets to finance yourself for another year – in spite of your business losses. However, do not reckon that the authorities will be very happy with such "failure". If you cannot explain your negative situation and persuade on a prosperous future, then you will have to expect that they might decline.