Immigration For Members

INTERVIEW: 'Germany's family reunion rules should be non-discriminatory'

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected]
INTERVIEW: 'Germany's family reunion rules should be non-discriminatory'
Bhavesh Uppal and his wife in Germany. Photo courtesy of Bhavesh Uppal

Germany's new skilled immigration law will allow future skilled migrants to bring their parents over to join them. But existing residents won't get the same chance. The Local reader Bhavesh Uppal says the rules should be the same for everyone.


Germany has been overhauling its immigration rules in a bid to ease the worker shortage.

Under the new law, skilled workers who are issued a visa from March 1st 2024 will be given special privileges when it comes to moving their loved ones closer to them. 

They will be able to bring their parents and in-laws to Germany, rather than just their spouses and dependent children.

Skilled workers who are already in the country, however, won't be able to take advantage of the new legislation. 

It has led to many people feeling disappointed. 

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Bhavesh Uppal, 32, moved to Germany around eight years ago from Mumbai in India to do a Master's degree. He has since got a job as a project manager and his wife joined him in Berlin. They now have a daughter who was born in Germany. 

Although Bhavesh said the immigration changes in general are "a good step", the double standard on family rules seems more like a "political compromise". 

"The major issue with the law that I see is it's not uniform," he told the Germany in Focus podcast recently. 

"I think one of the important things for a law to stand its ground is that it should be uniform, it should be non-discriminatory.


"And to a certain sense, the new provision, which just allows skilled workers who obtain a permit from March 1st 2024 onwards, to bring their extended families, which is parents or in-laws. I don't personally see it as a law, I think it's probably a political compromise."

Bhavesh said for people who are already in Germany the situation is "unfair" and "disappointing".

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A person at an airport

Future skilled immigrants to Germany will see more relaxed family reunification rules. Photo: Oleksandr P/Pexels

'My mother is all alone'

When the details of the law were first unannounced, Bhavesh had high hopes that he would be able to bring a parent over to live with him. 

His father died in April unexpectedly, leaving his mother alone in Mumbai. Bhavesh's brother and his family also live and work in Germany.

"It has been a very difficult situation, very stressful," Bhavesh said. "My mother is all alone."

"When we saw the new law, I think we were quite hopeful at the beginning, but there was a lot of confusion.

"I think later on, it really broke our hearts."

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Bhavesh wrote to members of parliament to see if there was any way that he could bring his mother to Germany for a longer period to be with family, but he has not yet found a solution. 

The family is now considering leaving Germany. 

"To support my mother for our family is the topmost priority - and this may definitely lead us to leaving," he said. 

Bhavesh said the German government should be thinking not only about bringing in new talent but retaining skilled workers who are boosting the economy and workforce. 

He urged politicians to make the new rules the same for everyone.

Two Blue Cards for foreign skilled workers are on a table at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Bavaria.

Two Blue Cards for foreign skilled workers are on a table at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Karmann

At the moment German law states that parents are only allowed to join their children in Germany in exceptional 'hardship cases', meaning that a situation when one parent has passed away and the other wants to be close to their family is generally not a valid case.

Bhavesh said: "It is time that Germany looks at redefining such conditions. There needs to be consideration where there are financial and emotional hardships.

"Cases where there is only one dependent parent who need financial and emotional support of their families to have a positive outlook at life. After the demise of the spouse, the partner is under emotional turmoil and this needs to be considered as strong grounds to allow reunification of families. This would go a long way in making Germany a preferred destination."


He also urged Germany to introduce longer-term visas for family members. 

"Currently, there's only Schengen visit visa provision which just allows for three months, which is too short of a time even now for a situation for like us," he said.

"I think this needs to be increased, especially for for people who have a residence permit and who have been working, to allow for a long term visit visa for the family.

"I think this is done in Canada, in Australia, in the USA as well," he said. 

Bhavesh argued that a one or two year visa would give affected families breathing space. 

"Right now there is no breather," he said. "I'm living basically in two worlds at the same time."

Misbah Khan, a member of parliament for the Greens, told The Local the that new Immigration Act was "facilitating access to the German labour market for many people".

However, she said comprises had to be made.

"In addition to many improvements, such as the EU Blue Card or the elimination of the need for specific qualifications for certain professions, we also had to make compromises.

"We are aware of the challenges associated with family reunion rules. We will continue to fight for the best solution for all expats."


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Pavan Gollapudi 2023/11/30 15:33
I completely agree with Bhavesh. The predicament is the same for me being the only son of parents who are fast aging. Germany needs to understand the cultural differences between the 2 countries, In India children, especially sons are expected to take care of parents by living with them - this is not an issue in Germany where we see old people living alone with no social pressure on the children.
Guru Prasath Anandapadmanaban 2023/11/20 22:34
I completely agree with Bhavesh Uppal

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