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  • Internationals with family

    Welcome Centre

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Internationals with family

If you are married and come from an EU/EEA state, the German Immigration and Residence Act allows you to bring your spouse and your unmarried minor children with you or to have them join you.

If you are married and come from a country that does not belong to the EU or the EEA, you must prove that there is sufficient living space and health insurance cover for your family in Germany and that the family can support itself. This is usually done by means of a certificate from the German host university or the inviting institution. In addition, your spouse must provide proof of basic German language skills. Family members of highly qualified persons are exempt from the proof of German language skills.

Documents for accompanying family members/family reunification

  • Your valid passport
  • Your proof of health insurance
  • Your rental contract and proof of the amount of all incidental expenses
  • Proof of income (copy of your scholarship award or employment contract)
  • For the spouse:
    the original marriage certificate and its certified German translation, unless it is an international document.
  • For thechildren:
    the original birth certificate and its certified German translation, unless it is an international document.
  • your valid passport

If the application is not submitted jointly, you must also submit a copy of your own passport with the valid residence permit listed in it and proof of finances.

In the case of family reunification, spouses are granted permission to work.

Support for families

In Germany, there are various options for parents and parents-to-be to receive support from the state. We have listed the different options for you here and summarised the most important information. With a residence and work permit for Germany, you can apply for child benefit or parental allowance.

The following documents are required to apply for child benefit or parental allowance:

  • Completed application form
  • Copies of passports/ID cards
  • Birth certificate of the child
  • Certificate of registration from the town hall
  • Certificate from your home country stating that no support payments are being made there

If you have brought your children to Germany, you are only entitled to child benefit or parental allowance if you are a national of a member state of the EU or the European Economic Area (Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway) or a Swiss citizen. If you come from another country, you are only entitled to child benefit if you are in possession of

  • A settlement permit or
  • A residence permit for the purpose of gainful employment or
  • A residence permit according to §25 paras. 1 and 2, §§31, 37, 38 of the Residence Act or
  • A residence permit for the purpose of family reunification with a German or with a staff, people covered by points 1 to 3.
Child benefit

Child benefit is paid at least until the child reaches the age of 18, and beyond that until the child reaches the age of 25 if the child is in school, vocational training or studying and his or her own income does not exceed 8,004 euros per year. In individual cases, child benefit is paid even beyond the age of 25.

The money for the respective child is always paid to only one beneficiary - usually to the parent in whose household the child lives. This regulation is important for parents who live separately, for example. Currently (Jan 2022), the first and second child receive €219, the third child €225 and each additional child €250 per month.

Information for child benefits can be obtained from the Family Service of Bielefeld University, the Family Fund of the Federal Employment Agency of Germany and Euraxess.

Do you need help filling out documents? Feel free to contact the Welcome Centre team.

Parental allowance can be claimed by all parents who primarily want to take on the supervision of their newborn child themselves during the first fourteen months of their child's life and are therefore unable to be fully employed. Parental allowance is paid to father and mother for a maximum of fourteen months, whereby both can freely divide the period between themselves. One parent alone can receive parental allowance for a maximum of twelve months, with the two additional months reserved as an option for the other partner. 65-80% of the earned income is paid to compensate for the loss of income after the birth of the child.
You can print out the application for parental allowance on the website of the Office for Youth and Family Affairs or here, fill it out and send it to the parental allowance office in Bielefeld.

Further information on the subject of parental allowance can be found on the websites of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth or on the Euraxess website.

According to the Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz, MuSchG), all women in employment enjoy special protection during pregnancy and after giving birth. This also applies to international guest researchers who are gainfully employed in Germany.

Maternity benefit is paid by the statutory health insurance funds during the protection periods (6 weeks before and 8 weeks after the birth of the child). The prerequisite is a medical certificate of the expected date of birth issued a maximum of 7 weeks before the expected date of delivery. In addition, you must have been insured with a statutory health insurance fund for at least 12 weeks between the fourth and tenth month of pregnancy and be able to prove an existing employment relationship.

You apply for maternity benefit at your statutory health insurance fund. If you are in employment at the start date of the maternity protection period and are insured with a statutory health insurance fund, you are entitled to maternity benefit in the amount of your average net salary for the last three calendar months. It is paid jointly by the health insurance fund and the employer.


The Welcome Centre wants to support you in finding suitable supervision for your children. Please contact us as early as possible, as places in daycare centres, kindergartens or childminders are in great demand and can therefore only be obtained with a lot of lead time. Even if your child will be attending a school during your stay, please inform us as early as possible so that we can support you in the selection process.

Child from 1 year

From the age of 1, children in Germany have a legal right to childcare. However, this legal entitlement does not refer to a specific daycare centre.

However, there are other care facilities such as crèches/toddler groups, daycare centres or child minders. The costs for toddler groups and day care centres depend on the type of department (state, denominational, free) and the parents' income. More detailed information can be obtained from the respective childcare facility.

There are different types of nurseries: denominational, co-financed by a church, state or free/alternative. When choosing the type of kindergarten, you should consider the opening hours. Church providers usually only offer half-day care, while the Arbeiterwohlfahrt (AWO) and the Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband almost always keep their nurseries open longer.

The alternative to crèches and day-care centres are so-called childminders. This is a private person who supervises a limited number of children (usually a maximum of 5) in their home. What parents pay for childminders depends on where they live, as municipalities subsidise state-approved childminders to varying degrees. Childminders who do not belong to an association usually charge much higher rates.

Addresses and telephone numbers of daycare centres, toddler groups and childminders in Bielefeld can be found at:

Please note that despite the legal entitlement, there is always a shortage of nursery places. Therefore, you should definitely make contact with nurseries before you leave for Germany.

In Germany, school attendance is compulsory by law for at least 10 years, usually from the age of 6 to 16. Attendance at pupils' schools is free of charge in Germany. After four years of primary school, the following types of school are available:

  • Hauptschule (five to six years) with acquisition of the Hauptschulabschluss, which is the prerequisite for vocational training in the dual system (in-service part-time instruction at vocational schools).
  • The Realschule (six years) with acquisition of the Realschulabschluss, which qualifies for attendance at Fachoberschulen, Fachgymnasien or Gymnasien.
  • The Gymnasium (eight years) with acquisition of the Abitur (German) 'Abitur', which qualifies for attendance at universities.

If you have any questions on this subject, please contact:
Schulamt für die Stadt Bielefeld
Ravensberger Straße 12
33602 Bielefeld
Phone: +49 - 521 - 512347 or 513914

In addition to these traditional types of schools, there are also comprehensive schools in Bielefeld where pupils can obtain a degree in one of the three types of school.
Addresses and telephone numbers of schools in Bielefeld can be found here.

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