Germany has been one of the most popular immigration destinations in the world for some time now. Some 11 million of the people currently living in Germany were actually born elsewhere. In other words, over one in eight members of the German population is an immigrant. The proportion is even higher among the working population, where one in seven is originally from another country. All in all, one in five people in Germany has a migrant background. As with other countries, certain areas in Germany tend to attract people with a migrant background. Many of Germany's immigrant population live and work in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, and Frankfurt. Germany with the largest economy in Europe has the greatest shortage of IT staff. The German Information Technology Association estimates that twenty-five percent of IT vacancies remain unfilled.
Thanks to Germany's central location, it's very easy to travel elsewhere in Europe. The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Austria, France, Poland and very cheaply if you're lucky.My personal con is that I didn't take advantage of this lovely benefit enough when I was living in Germany.
The healthcare system is working like a dream in Germany, and nearly everything is included in the local insurance.
The amount of activities in Germany, especially during spring and summer time, is definitely a huge plus. There are carnivals, Japan day, museum nights, funfairs, festivals, outdoor cinemas, rollerblading nights… and so much more. For every weekend (and even for week days) you can find something fun to do.
Public transport works like a charm, at least in Dasseldorf and nearby areas, and the connections are good.Travelling by train is quite pricey, but in case you can travel with friends you can get quite nice group discounts already with 5 travelers. In addition, during the evenings and weekends you can use the local transport with a 'buddy ticket', meaning 2 for 1.
In spite of the language, Germany is not that different from Finland after all, so it's quite an easy country to adapt to; It rains a lot. And what comes to the language barrier, you can manage quite well in English in case German is not one of your strongest languages.
There are several residence permits that apply in Germany:
The most common permit is the residence permit, which is usually valid for one year and can be renewed so long as your situation – eg. employment, marriage – stays the same as when you were originally granted the permit.
The EU Blue Card is a residence permit with enhanced conditions for highly qualified migrants and their spouses.
The settlement permit and permanent EC residence permit, as their names suggest, are both permanent residence permits. They are usually only granted after five years of residence (and if you fulfill other conditions) but they can be issued to highly skilled workers immediately and to other groups after two or three years of residence.
Your reason for wanting to come to Germany and your educational and professional qualifications will determine which residence title you can apply for. You will need to meet some general requirements, including holding a valid passport and being able to prove you have enough money to support you during your stay.
You can get a nine-month residence permit to come to Germany before being admitted to a German university (as long as you have the required qualifications), or a longer one to study in Germany on a full-time university course. You will need to prove that you have the necessary finances during your course and you may have to prove German language proficiency. Most universities have very comprehensive and helpful information about residence permits on their own websites.
Once you have been living in Germany for a number of years, you can apply for a permanent residence permit. A permanent residence permit allows you to stay in the country indefinitely but you don't have the same rights as German citizens – you can't vote, for example. If you wish to have the same constitutional rights and legal status as any other German citizen, and you fulfil certain conditions, then you can apply to be naturalized after eight years of residence.
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