GRC Tracing Service: Counselling
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The GRC Tracing Service for ethnic German repatriates

Family reunification and subsequent immigration of relatives

How can the GRC Tracing Service help you? The GRC Tracing Service advises persons of German origin from Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the successor states of the former Soviet Union and their relatives

  • on the requirements and course of the admission procedure under the Federal Expellees Act (BVFG),
  • on the recognition of a possibly existing German nationality and 
  • on the subsequent immigration of family members in accordance with the regulations of the Residence Act (AufenthG).

We have extensive data and documents of our own on German ethnic groups and their relatives, so that we can help you in current entry cases to prove that you belong to the German ethnic group. The Tracing Service staff will accompany you and your relatives through the respective procedure until the official decision is made and will support you in legal, family and social matters. Together with you, we will try to find out how you and your relatives can best enter Germany and stay permanently.

How can the GRC Tracing Service help you?

Before entering the Federal Republic of Germany, a legal decision on permanent admission to Germany is made within the framework of an administrative procedure.

To assist you, the GRC Tracing Service requires comprehensive information from you. Of particular importance are the names and data of all persons involved in the respective request, with details of the relevant family relationships, nationality or ethnicity and the respective places of residence.

If you are unclear about official decisions or you do not know how to proceed, the Tracing Service will also be happy to advise you. Please describe your case to us and send us copies of the decisions you have received, if available.

Legal foundations and options

Different legal options are available to relatives who live in Eastern and Southeastern Europe or in the successor states of the former Soviet Union and who wish to move to family members already living in Germany. Their entry, permanent residence and residence justification in the Federal Republic of Germany are also subject to specific legal conditions, about which we will be happy to inform you in detail in the course of a consultation. The GRC Tracing Service has no influence on official decisions.

You will find here an overview of some legal aspects:

  • Admission procedure according to the Federal Expellees Act (BVFG)

    To be recognised as an ethnic German repatriate according to § 4 BVFG, a corresponding application must be submitted to the Federal Office of Administration (BVA) according to the BVFG. As an ethnic German repatriate applicant, you must still be located in one of the countries listed in the BVFG at the time of the procedure so that the so-called “fate of suffering the consequences of the war” status can be recognised. You must have been born before 1993, be descended from at least one German parent or grandparent, have acknowledged your German nationality and be able to conduct a simple conversation in German. However, it is not necessary for German language skills to have been acquired within the family; knowledge of German as a foreign language is also sufficient. The language test can be repeated. Descendants of an ethnic German repatriate can be included in the procedure according to § 7 BVFG. As soon as they are of legal age, they must also provide proof of language skills. After an entry has been registered in Germany, all persons involved receive German citizenship.


  • Nationality Act (StAG)

    Whoever obtained German citizenship, for example, through naturalisation during the Second World War, can still possess it today under certain conditions and have passed this citizenship on to children/grandchildren. The Nationality Act (StAG) determines when this is the case. Persons who entered Germany after completion of an admission procedure under the BVFG and later returned to their country of origin may also possess German citizenship. In both cases, however, German citizenship may also have been lost again. This is regulated in § 25 StAG, among other things. German citizenship allows you to enter Germany without a visa if you have valid identity papers. If this is not the case, a nationality determination procedure must be conducted.


  • Residence Act (AufenthG)

    Close family members who do not meet the legal requirements of § 4 or § 7 BVFG can, under certain conditions based on the Residence Act (AufenthaltsG), enter Germany together with the ethnic German repatriates under § 8 BVFG. However, they remain foreigners without German citizenship after entry. Further persons can potentially join already entered ethnic German repatriates and their descendants according to § 27 to § 36 of the Residence Act, if the legal requirements are fulfilled. As a rule, these requirements include being able to secure the cost of living, being proficient in German and, depending on the degree of kinship, being in a special hardship situation.


Advice on procedural matters

Notizen während Beratungsgespräch

Would you like to enter Germany on the grounds of your German ethnicity or an existing German citizenship and stay permanently? Do you already live in Germany and want to bring relatives to Germany?

In any case, it is very important that you inform yourself about the legal requirements and what proof you and your relatives have to provide for the respective application procedure. Depending on the legal basis for a possible residence permit, the GRC Tracing Service can support you as follows by:

  • helping you with the application process (e.g. filling out forms; checking forms that have already been filled out; preliminary examination of documents suitable for providing proof),
  • showing you alternative possibilities for providing proof,
  • submitting status inquiries to the authority or public body responsible for the respective procedure,
  • providing formulation aids for submission to authorities, courts or other public bodies,
  • requesting an acceleration of the official procedure in special hardship cases,
  • providing advice on procedural issues, including the examination of appeals against negative decisions,
  • advising you on questions regarding the continued validity of “old notifications” (acceptance permits or admission notifications issued before 1993),
  • advising you on the organisation and handling of patient transports from the areas of origin for ethnic German repatriates and their relatives,
  • helping you to obtain certificates.

The GRC Tracing Service can accompany you through all stages of the official procedure, right up to the receipt of a negative decision in the worst case. If such a decision is issued or has already been issued, it is possible to review its legality. Together with you and your relatives, we will clarify whether and under what conditions this decision could be amended. Above all, in such cases you must contact the GRC Tracing Service promptly within the period of time stated in the respective decision.

Departure from the region of origin

Are you experiencing difficulties in leaving your region of origin? The legal requirements for leaving the country of origin are governed by the laws in force in the respective country. Although you have already been granted an admission letter which suffices to obtain a visa for entry to Germany, there may be obstacles when leaving the region of origin, and you may therefore need further advice.

In principle, an admission notification from the Federal Office of Administration (BVA) is the basis on which the departure procedures can be initiated. Nevertheless, some authorities in the successor states of the former Soviet Union continue to require a so-called Wysow(request) for the approval of the departure of German citizens and ethnic Germans. This request must be formally expressed by the relatives living in the territory of the Federal Republic.

You can obtain the necessary Wysow form from the GRC Tracing Service in your area. We will translate the completed Wysow for you free of charge. The GRC Tracing Service Hamburg Office also advises on the so-called Wysow replacement procedure, which is common in Kazakhstan, for example, if a Wysow cannot be issued by relatives in Germany.

Entry into Germany

Special considerations must be taken into account before you enter the Federal Republic of Germany:


Entry into Germany
  • Visa procedure

    Do you hold a valid notification of admission under the Federal Expellees Act (BVFG) and are planning the next steps?

    As a rule, a visa application must still be submitted to a German embassy, as most of the successor states of the former Soviet Union currently still require a visa to enter the Federal Republic of Germany. You will need a national visa; information on this can be found on the websites of the respective German embassies and consulates. The GRC Tracing Service can advise you on this and, if necessary, communicate with the local embassy should difficulties arise during the visa procedure.

  • Patient transportation

    You have received a positive response to your admission procedure in accordance with the Federal Expellees Act (BVFG) but you are not able to travel to Germany?

    You must organise and finance your own entry into Germany and that of your relatives. Only in very limited exceptional cases is it possible to apply for federal funds for support via the GRC Tracing Service. Such an application requires that, due to a proven illness or disability within the meaning of § 2 para. 1 SGB IX (German Social Code), you are unable to resettle from your country of origin to Germany on your own.

    Since 1 January 2000, the GRC Tracing Service has been commissioned by the Federal Government with the organisation and processing of patient transports for ethnic German repatriates and/or their relatives. We examine and prepare each patient transport case on an individual basis. Corresponding information sheets (German/Russian) can be obtained from the GRC Tracing Service. If you or your relatives require assistance, please contact the GRC Tracing Service directly. (LINK to “Tracing Service Hamburg Office contact”)

  • Registration in Germany

    Have you successfully entered Germany as an ethnic German repatriate or as a relative of an ethnic German repatriate?

    In any case, you must report immediately to the branch office of the Federal Office of Administration (BVA) in 37133 Friedland, Heimkehrerstrasse 16 (border repatriation facility).

    As part of the registration and allocation procedure, this is where your temporary place of residence in the Federal Republic of Germany is determined, if possible taking into account your family ties and any work, employment and training requirements. If you have any questions, please contact the GRC Tracing Service.

For your questions regarding the registration and allocation procedure or in case of difficulties, please contact the counselling centre of the GRC Tracing Service in Friedland:

Frau Natalja Schneidmüller
Border repatriation facility Friedland
Haus 16 
37133 Friedland
Phone: +49 (0)5504 / 8 01 93 69


Do you have a family reunification request of and to ethnic German repatriates? Please contact a support centre of the GRC Tracing Service near you or at:

  • Address

    German Red Cross
    Tracing Service Hamburg Office
    Meiendorfer Straße 205
    22145 Hamburg

    Phone: +49 (0)40 / 4 32 02 - 0
    Fax: +49 (0)40 / 4 32 02 - 200
    E-mail: auskunft(at)

  • Office hours

    Monday through Thursday: 08:30 am to 11:30 am and 01:00 pm to 03:30 pm
    Friday: 08:30 am to 11:30 am
    Other times after prior arrangement by phone


The GRC Tracing Service provides advice and support at every stage of the procedure. We cannot assume any powers of attorney in procedural matters. Please bring the following documents (if available) to the agreed consultation appointment:

  • Notification of admission or inclusion from the Federal Office of Administration (BVA)
  • Notification of refusal or appeal by the Federal Office of Administration (BVA)
  • Information on the persons involved in the procedure (e.g. information on the respective language skills, nationality entry, etc.)
  • Information on parents/grandparents (names, dates of birth and their places of residence) if the matter involves checking a possible German nationality
  • Copies of medical certificates (in case of questions regarding the execution of a patient transport or exemption from the requirement to prove German language skills), if available

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

You have questions about family reunification of ethnic German repatriates. We have compiled some frequently asked questions (FAQ) on this subject with answers from the GRC Tracing Service.

Click here to view the FAQs. »

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