Marrying a German: Integration in Germany

When moving to Germany out of the goodness of your heart, it is important to remember that the romance and novelty of the first months of life in the new country eventually give way to routine. In order for a woman who married a German and moved to Germany to feel confident and comfortable in her new country, she must gradually integrate into the new society.

Integration into a new society, or the socialization of an individual into a new society, is a fairly individualized process of adapting to society, to a new social environment. It includes adopting the values and norms established in a given country; learning the skills (for example, learning the official language of the country) that allow one to live, work, communicate with other people – in other words, to successfully “function” in the new society (1). The first “steps” after moving to Germany are: obtaining a residence permit, learning the German language, making your first friends, getting a work permit, and finding a suitable occupation.

Legislation on immigrant integration in Germany is detailed and works well.

Important German institutions in charge of the paperwork for foreigners to stay in the country, learn the language, and find a job:

  • Ausländerbehörde;

  • Volkshochschule;

  • Agentur für Arbeit.

Ausländerbehörde (immigration service) – A government agency that deals with legal matters concerning immigrants’ stay in Germany. For example, the issuing of residence and work permits. The immigration office deals with foreigners who reside (actually stay) in Germany and issues “invitations” for a visitor’s visa (Verpflichtungserklärung) – a document of a German citizen’s official commitment for the person being invited. Before entering the territory of Germany, for registration of entry documents, you need to contact the diplomatic missions of the Federal Republic of Germany in your country. The website of German diplomatic missions in the Russian Federation was mentioned in the article “About Germany, about visas, about learning German: useful links”.

Important: Once you have entered Germany as the wife or fiancée of a German citizen, you need to visit your local immigration office. The staff will explain to you what you will need in order to obtain a residence permit and a work permit.

Integration begins with learning the language, values and norms of the country, rights and responsibilities

Without knowing the language of the country – it is impossible to successfully integrate into society, and therefore to feel comfortable in the country. Communicating every day, shopping, visiting government offices or successfully finding a job all have to do with knowing the language. For this reason, the first time you move to Germany, we advise you to concentrate on learning the German language.

It is obligatory for immigrants to take language courses in Germany. It is up to the immigration officer to decide whether you should take a language and integration course in each individual case. depends on the applicant’s level of German language proficiency (providing a certificate of passing a foreign language proficiency test of a certain level).

You do not learn German at home, because the immigration office and employers need an official confirmation of your language skills – a certificate of passing the language exam. Therefore it is better to learn German in a language school, where you have to pass the exam at the end of the language course. Fortunately, there is a wide range of German language courses and schools for visitors to Germany.

Separate from the language course, many foreigners are offered an integration course. This is a course that helps foreign nationals get a better start in German society. The course includes the most important information about the country and life there, as well as basic information about the law and the rights and obligations of citizens and newcomers.

Both types of courses (integration course and language course) are presented at the institution that bears the name Volkshochschule (literally, the name of this institution can be translated as “people’s school,” “people’s university”). This is a very common type of educational institution in Germany and, unlike many well-known language schools (for example, the Goethe Institut or the Berlitz Schule, whose branches are usually located only in large cities), is present in most regions and provinces of the country.

At the end of both courses there is an examination: German Level B1 and confirmation of the knowledge of the integration course. If you pass both examinations successfully, you will receive a certificate, which you will have to present to the immigration office.

We mentioned the importance of learning and mastering German before officially establishing a relationship with a German citizen in the article “When to start learning a foreign language: before or after meeting a foreigner?”. Remember, that regardless of the state, where was / will be concluded marriage with a German, if the couple plans to reside permanently in Germany, the wife / fiancée of a German citizen, when obtaining an entry visa at a diplomatic mission of Germany, you must present a certificate confirming the knowledge of the German language at the level A1.

You can make your first acquaintances in Germany at a language or integration course. Because all participants are foreigners, it is very easy to find a common language. Speaking to other people helps to overcome the language barrier and the fear of making mistakes.

Advice to all women whose German husband speaks Russian. You will learn German not only at school, but also through communication with your husband and his family. If your husband speaks enough Russian for everyday communication, it is very convenient. However, learning the language often starts with little things, starts at home at the household level. In this regard, we would like to recommend to have all conversations at home in German – it will help to quickly master the language and overcome the language barrier. Communicating at home in Russian, it is difficult to get used to the German language, memorize new words, and therefore learning will be more difficult and will take longer.

Job Search

There is a high probability that the wife of a German citizen will have to change her occupation after changing her country of residence. The professional activity she was engaged in in her home country may not be in demand in Europe or require additional qualifications. Becoming a housewife is a tempting alternative to working life. However, for a woman who used to lead an active, independent and self-sufficient life, such a change of occupation may eventually lead to dissatisfaction and even disappointment.

After obtaining a work permit from the immigration office, it will be helpful to visit Agentur für Arbeit (literal translation “employment agency”). It is a government service that helps you find a job. Immigrants with a work permit in Germany can register as jobseekers and be counseled by an Agentur für Arbeit. The services of the Agentur für Arbeit are free of charge. At the counselling session, the employee can explain what the jobseeker’s prospects in Germany will be, what career options are and if there are possibilities for retraining or training for a different profession. The Agentur für Arbeit also offers information about state-funded transition programmes. Jobseekers who register with the Agentur für Arbeit as jobseekers receive job offers with employers’ contact information so that they can make an appointment for an interview themselves.

Before you move to Germany, take care of your education documents (school diploma, higher education credentials). All education documents must be apostilled. An apostille is a stamp that confirms the authenticity of the document. It is necessary if you intend to use the documents in another country. For example, to enroll in a higher education institution or to prove your qualifications to your employer. An apostille can be issued by the issuing institution.


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