Interview with Dr. Jonathan Burmeister. He is attorney at law in Berlin, where he runs his own law firm and is specialized in criminal law, migration law and tenancy law. The focus of his work is the success of his clients.
(Translation of the interview in German)
In which legal matters do you represent the interests of your clients?
We represent our clients in the areas of criminal law, administrative law and civil law. In the field of criminal law we represent our clients in all possible matters. In regard with administrative law, we are mainly active in the areas of migration law and advise our clients in questions concerning residence and work permits. Within the scope of civil law, our clients have raising demand for matters in tenancy law and contract law.
Do foreign clients also seek your help?
Yes, they do. I would say 80% of my clients are English speaking.
What are the main concerns of foreign clients?
The interests of foreign clients extend through the entire field of the law. There are foreigners living in Berlin. They have the same problems as German citizens. For example, with their landlord or a contract partner.
But we also represent clients abroad who, for example, have problems with a German contract partner. Many of our foreign clients would also like to have a residence permit and move to Germany. Buying a property or founding a company are further typical concerns.
What possibilities are there to move to Germany as a citizen of a non-Schengen state?
For instance, there is the possibility to work in Germany, which requires an offer of employment from an interested employer. If the client is qualified, has studied, or has many years of work experience, there is the possibility to obtain a work permit.
Other possibilities to move to Germany are if you have a family here or want to study. But as a citizen of a non-Schengen state, the most hurdles regularly come along on the path to self-employment. But even this plan can be implemented with the right support.
Do you also support foreign clients through the jungle of bureaucracy?
Yes, we then take care of the administrative law matters in particular. This concerns above all the law on foreigners, residence permits and work permits. However, we also ensure that the related requirements are met, such as business registrations, or the registration of a company.
What can I do if an application for a residence permit is being refused?
If an application for a German visa is being refused, legal action can only be taken in Berlin. This is a matter in which I often represent clients. However, this only makes sense in certain cases. For example, when it comes to a family reunion.
If the client wants to work here and the visa is rejected, a lawsuit is usually not an advisable option. In this case we have to convince the immigration authorities and the embassy. The application must then be filed again and, if necessary, an objection must be raised.
Going to court is actually only a possibility if there is nothing more that can be done about an application, but you still have the feeling that you are entitled to the visa. This can be the case if you have family here. In general, applications for a study visa can be helped well. This does not necessarily have to end up in a lawsuit. In any case, legal assistance from a lawyer is useful in these matters.
Can I settle freely within the Schengen area if I have a residence permit from Germany?
No. There is no European residence permit or European work permit. The residence permit is still national. So, if you want to work in France, for example, you need a French work permit. If you want to settle in Germany, you need a German residence permit.
But if you already have a long-term residence permit, it is rather likely to move within the Schengen area more easily.
Do I need a German bank account when I move to Germany?
No, this is not necessary. In principle, anyone can open an account here without having a residence permit. However, there are banks that have a stricter policy and place higher demands on their bank customers. For example, the origin of the potential customer, or his appearance can be decisive.
Nevertheless – from a legal point of view, even a tourist can open a bank account, rent an apartment and buy a house in this country. All this is possible and legal. However, some landlords want to see that there is a German bank account.
How can I buy real estate in Germany as a foreigner?
There are basically no restrictions here. In Germany anyone can acquire real estate or residential property. However, the support of a lawyer is highly recommended for this kind of investments.
How do you deal with the crime you are confronted with every day?
That is not a problem, that is my profession. After all, there are clients who are hit by a stroke of fate, with whom you also develop empathy. Furthermore, every criminal is entitled to a lawyer.
Does the client’s guilt or innocence play a role for you?
What matters is not the guilt, but the evidence. This determines what the goal of the defense is. However, it is not my job to determine guilt. My job is to make sure that someone against whom there is insufficient evidence is not convicted. It is also important for me to support my clients at all times. And I am happy to do so.
Do you represent all kinds of criminals?
I do not represent violent right-wing extremist offenders.
What inspires you?
I get inspired by working with clients. I’m personally driven to give my clients a sense of achievement. I like my job because I meet people in person.
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