General information on the necessity of German language skills
Generally, family members have to prove basic German language skills before entering Germany. This shall ensure that they can communicate in Germany from the very beginning in a simple manner.
Are there any exceptions?
Yes. You usually do not have to prove German language skills, if at least one of the following statements applies (see also above):
a) You or your spouse are citizens of an EU member state or made use of your freedom of movement as a German citizen.
b) Language acquisition is not possible abroad, not reasonable or within one year despite efforts not successful (only in case of reunification with a German citizen or association entitled Turkish citizens).
c) You are due to a physical, mental or psychological illness or handicap not able to prove basic knowledge of the German language.
d) You have a university degree and can probably find work in Germany also due to your language skills (obviously little need for integration).
e) You do not want to reside permanently in Germany.
f) Your spouse is holder of the Blue Card EU.
g) Your spouse holds a residence permit as
- highly qualified person (§ 19 AufenthG),
- researcher (§ 20 AufenthG),
- founder of a company (§ 21 AufenthG),
- person entitled to asylum (§ 25 I § 26 III AufenthG),
- recognised refugee (§ 25 II, § 26 III AufenthG),
- person from other EU states entitled to a permanent residence permit (§ 38a AufenthG).
i) Your spouse is citizen of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the United States of America, Andorra, Honduras, Monaco or San Marino.
j) You can name circumstances for the impossibility of language acquisition that constitute a case of hardship.
What are basic German language skills?
Basic German language skills denote the knowledge of the German language according to "level A1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages". This means that you can understand and use familiar every day expressions and very simple sentences, for example to ask for directions. You may be able to introduce yourself and others and answer questions on personal details, for example where you live. Of course, the dialog partner has to speak clearly and be willing to help.
You should also be able to write a little in German, for example to fill in your name, your address and nationality in authorities' forms.
How to prove basic German language skills?
The German language skills have to be proven before entry usually when applying for the visa for spouse immigration at the German embassy or consulate general, respectively.
The applicant has to add to his/her application documents a language certificate of a standardised language test according to the "Standards of the Association of Language Testers in Europe" (ALTE). This currently applies for the following language certificates: "Start Deutsch 1" of the Goethe-Institut or of telc GmbH, "Grundstufe Deutsch 1" of the Austrian language diploma (ÖSD), "TestDaF" of the TestDaF-Institut e.V. The German diplomatic mission where you apply for the visa exclusively decides on the recognition of the language certificate.
If it is obvious without any doubts at the applicant’s personal appearance at the embassy or consulate general that he/she has the required basic German language skills, no further proof of evidence is necessary.