Is a 1 to 2 Year Residency for USA Family Possible

Hello,

Any advice on how to deal with the following situation would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance…

We are US citizens and a family of three (husband, wife and 10 yr old son) who want to spend a year or year and a half (max 2 yrs) living in Germany as a cultural experience for our son (we are both of strong German heritage). Husband is 67 yrs old and retired and wife is 41 yrs old and self-employed as a mortgage broker. Wife makes six figures per year and husband's retirement savings are more than adequate to live on if necessary so we would not be seeking work or become a burden on society, etc. Wife works 100% remotely from home and would continue to do so from Germany with all her business transactions being conducted in the US.  No business would be transacted in Germany at all.

We have explored each visa type in detail and are unable to make any of the available types fit our profile.  There has got to be a way to make our dream come true so anyone with any ideas please let us know.  Or, if anyone knows of a German based company or individual expert that contracts to assist people like us and cares to pass that along to us it would also be greatly appreciated.

Danke schön

I assume "strong German heritage" means you speak the language - otherwise the idea of a "cultural experience" won't fly at all: How would you experience a culture you cannot understand?
If your German heritage does not give you close relatives who could be your sponsor, you indeed do not have many options.
The only one I see is a freelancer visa for your wife, which she would need in any case to legally do her work in Germany (and of course also pay taxes and social security contributions - that all her business partners are in the USA is immaterial here, you pay where you work!).
You and your son could then join her on a family reunion visa.
If you are wealthy enough (just a few millions is not sufficient), there might be other options as investor, but I am not familiar with those. Ask a wealth consultant!

I appreciate the info.  No close relatives unfortunately.  We will keep trying to find a way.

Thanks.

RANDH09 :

I appreciate the info.  No close relatives unfortunately.  We will keep trying to find a way.

Thanks.

Sounds like Beppi already mentioned the fitting possibility. A freelance visa.

But one cannot just say they don't want to burden anyone and opt out of the system of how things work and avoid visas or taxes. You’ll also have to get German health insurance and your wife will almost certainly have to pay German taxes on world-wide income no matter where it is made. Sorry but that is the general rule for EVERY country.

And almost uniquely, the American IRS will require her to file as well. For Americans abroad, one usually avoids double taxation by taking the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. But since the income will be American earned, that doesn’t apply. But one can should be able to take foreign tax credits to subtract all German paid taxes from your American obligations.

Another question is if your wife is considered self-employed? This is important in context of Social Security taxes. With residency in German, one usually pays into the German system and through a totalization agreement becomes exempt from US Social Security taxes. This has to be documented every year and included with your 1040s. What I am unclear about is the exact situation when it is for a limited period of time like planned? And is any employer State side paying SS taxes on her income? Even if you get the necessary visa, you will have to clarify this.

Much of the bureaucracy in the end is likely to come from the American tax authorities rather than the Germans. I would suggest you familiarize yourself with Publication 54 on the IRS website concerning filing obligations for Americans abroad. I doubt this will answer all of your questions but it’s a start.

TominStuttgart,

Thanks for the input.  Greatly appreciated.

I was probably not very clear in my earlier post. I apologize. My wife is self-employed (i.e. she is a 1099 vs W2 employee for US tax purposes) and owns her own business where she is the sole employee. I don't know if that makes things easier or more complicated and you're right... we'll need to find a good tax expert to help sort things out. And, we are not trying to avoid paying any taxes either in the US or Germany - just making sure we don't pay more than our fair share. Anyway, taxes aren't our primary issue but rather our primary question/concern at this point is the type of visa to apply for and if Germany has the equivalent of the Italian Elective Residence or Spanish Non-Lucrative or France's Long Stay (Non-work) visa?  Based on what you and Beppi have said there is no such thing in Germany and the only option is a Freelancer visa which doesn't really seem to apply in our case.

I'm sensing a brick wall here.  It is just very hard to understand why the German government wouldn't provide a visa option (a la France, Spain & Italy) for folks like us. Very frustrating. In any case, we really appreciate your assistance and we're not giving up yet.  :-)

RANDH09 :

TominStuttgart,

Thanks for the input.  Greatly appreciated.

I was probably not very clear in my earlier post. I apologize. My wife is self-employed (i.e. she is a 1099 vs W2 employee for US tax purposes) and owns her own business where she is the sole employee. I don't know if that makes things easier or more complicated and you're right... we'll need to find a good tax expert to help sort things out. And, we are not trying to avoid paying any taxes either in the US or Germany - just making sure we don't pay more than our fair share. Anyway, taxes aren't our primary issue but rather our primary question/concern at this point is the type of visa to apply for and if Germany has the equivalent of the Italian Elective Residence or Spanish Non-Lucrative or France's Long Stay (Non-work) visa?  Based on what you and Beppi have said there is no such thing in Germany and the only option is a Freelancer visa which doesn't really seem to apply in our case.

I'm sensing a brick wall here.  It is just very hard to understand why the German government wouldn't provide a visa option (a la France, Spain & Italy) for folks like us. Very frustrating. In any case, we really appreciate your assistance and we're not giving up yet.  :-)

Well there are differences between countries but I'm not sure why the freelancer visa doesn't fit? Your wife will be working and earning money but not taking a job so she must fit into some catagory. Not sure why that should be a problem? I don't know about the visas from other countries you've mentioned but they don't sound fitting either. How would a French  long stay non-work visa fit when she will in fact be working although remotely? If you realy want to know, then why not just ask the German consulate? or contact the Germany immigration authority BAMF. That's their job; to figure out what visas are possible and see that people fulfill the requirements.

Good advice.  That's what we'll do.  Thanks.  :-)

Contact the German embassy or consulate where you are. Sometimes they'll let you extend your regular tourist visa to a year as a cultural experience if you can prove that you can finance your entire time in the country, take out travel insurance for the entire time you plan on staying here and accept that you won't be able to work.

A friend of mine from the US was granted an Aufenhaltserlaubnis with no permission to work to learn German. They do exist.

DanieMarie :

Contact the German embassy or consulate where you are. Sometimes they'll let you extend your regular tourist visa to a year as a cultural experience if you can prove that you can finance your entire time in the country, take out travel insurance for the entire time you plan on staying here and accept that you won't be able to work.

A friend of mine from the US was granted an Aufenhaltserlaubnis with no permission to work to learn German. They do exist.

Getting permission to study or do a training as long as they don't work is standard. The problem posed by the poster is that the wife intends to continue working remotely. Even though the business will all take place in the US, this is not the same situation as not working. Thus it would seem to fall under the situation of getting a permission for free lance work. It would not seem to be such a hard sell since it won't be taking any work from a German resident and guarantees that one has money to finance themselves.

Yeah, I suppose you're right there.

All,

Thank you to everyone for your responses.  You all have been most helpful. We will definitely seek guidance from our local consulate and follow their advice. Thanks again.  :-)

If YOU got a normal job here, they will grant you a residence permit.  The job has to be international in nature - you cannot take a job away from a German National.

Sorry, Suzannet, but finding a job (what is "normal"?) does not assure getting a residence permit.
(And there is no requirement of any job having to be "international in nature", whatever that may mean.)
You are correct that a work visa will only be issued if there are no Germans (and EU citizens, I must add) that could be employed instead of you.

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