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Moving to Germany is an exciting adventure. It’s a place full of diverse people, and the opportunities are endless. There are gorgeous cities and beautiful nature. You will not regret moving there for a second. The downside is that you’ll have to jump a few hoops until you are settled in. Germany is known as a place with a lot of bureaucracy. It’s said to be a red-tape nightmare, so you’ll have to go through a few processes to stay in the country.

This article will simplify the procedures and show you how to get yourself a German residence permit.

What is a German Residence Permit?

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If your only goal is to visit Germany for touristic purposes, you don’t have to fret about a residence permit. A tourist visa allows you to stay in Germany for about 90 days and explore the country and all it has to offer. Staying beyond the permitted 90 days is not possible though without a residence permit.

A German residence permit allows you to stay in Germany for a more extended period than only 90 days. During that time, you can study, work, or engage in other activities in the country.

But how do you know whether you need a residence permit? Except for people from EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein, all other foreign nationals need a residence permit to stay in Germany for more than 90 days.

Many foreign nationals will have to apply for the residence permit for Germany from their home countries or get a Schengen visa to enter Germany for 90 days. For some countries, though, it is possible to enter Germany without a visa during those first 90 days and apply for the residence permit from inside the country.


Visit the Do I need a Visa for Short Stays in Germany to determine whether you can go into the country without a Schengen Visa.

It should be noted that although each German residence permit involves different requirements, the expert immigration lawyers at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte provide comprehensive legal advice on all residence permit matters. Visit their German Immigration to Germany Information Center to find out more about the services they offer and contact them now if you want expert legal oversight when preparing your residence permit application.

Types of Residence Permit

Depending on your length of stay and the requirements you fulfill, there are various types of German residence permits. In general, three residence permits allow you to stay in Germany for different periods.

Temporary Residence Permit

As its name suggests, the Temporary Residence Permit or Limited Residence Permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) is for shorter stays in Germany. When you get this type of residence permit, you can stay in Germany for one year only. However, it has the possibility of extension provided that your situation does not change and that you fulfill the requirements.

The Temporary Residence Permit is granted to foreign nationals if they have a specific reason for staying in Germany. When you apply for this type of permit, you state why you want to stay, and the card released to you specifies it. Afterwards, you cannot engage in an activity that your residence permit doesn’t allow. For example, if you apply for the temporary residence permit for studying, it will state that you can only study and not work. The other way around applies as well.

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The temporary residence permit is the first type of permit that most foreign nationals get. It creates a basis for a more permanent stay in Germany. One of the requirements, then for the permanent permit is to have held the temporary permit for a specified period of time. Only those with exceptional cases can surpass this requirement.

There are many reasons that a person would want to have a temporary residence permit for Germany. Here we will outline the three most common ones.

Employment Purposes

Finding a job in Germany qualifies you to get a temporary residence permit. You can initially start your job hunt from your home country, or you can get a Germany Job Seeker Visa to go and search for one within Germany. Either way, after you get an employment offer, you can apply for a temporary residence permit. You are not allowed to start working before you obtain the document.

You need to meet several requirements before being allowed to work in Germany with a residence permit. Some of them include German proficiency, and then you and your employer must prove that the job position could not be filled by other German citizens, EU citizens, or priority workers. Priority workers are those who have been in Germany for a longer time. Additionally, you must get approval from the Federal Employment Agency or Bundesagentur fur Arbeit.

After you get your approval and meet the requirements, you can apply for the residence permit. Your employment contract determines the period of time you are allowed to hold your permit. If your contract is for only two years, your permit will also be valid for two years. However, you can extend it as many times as you need as long as you maintain your employment status.

Studying Purposes

Temporary residence permits are also given for students who will be completing an undergraduate, graduate, or vocational degree in Germany. They usually get the residence permit for the length of their program. During their education, they can work full time for 120 days or half-time for 240 days. Besides, they can engage in work-study positions. However, they cannot enter long term contracts.

After they finish their degree, students can extend their temporary permit for another 18 months to find a job in Germany. German authorities allow this since they want to retain educated people within the country. If the students find a job, they can then apply for an Employment Residence Permit.

Marriage Purposes

Marrying a German citizen or a person who has a permanent residence permit in Germany allows you to stay in the country, but you will still need a residence permit. There is no single German residence permit through marriage, but this means that you will get your permit to stay in the country for family union purposes. Same-sex couples are also accepted in Germany and are eligible to obtain residence permits after they get married.

The requirements include a good grasp of the German language at a B1 level, and they are similar to the needs of other residence permits, which will be outlined below. The residence permit will be temporary, but after a few years of marriage (usually two years) and time spent in Germany (three years), the spouse becomes eligible to gain permanent residence.

During this time, the spouse can apply for permits that are for employment or study purposes.

The EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is similar to the Temporary Residence Permit, but it targets a specific group of people and has longer validity. The EU Blue Card is for foreign nationals of non-EU countries who are highly skilled in a profession and want to work in Germany. Highly qualified employees have completed a higher education degree, such as a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. Those who are more likely to get the EU Blue Card have an IT or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) background.

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To qualify for the EU Blue Card, the applicant must find a job in Germany, which allows them to practice the skills they have gained during their degree. The job must be in the same field as their educational qualifications. Additionally, their job should allow them to earn a minimum of 50,800 Euros annually, and they should have a high level of German proficiency.

The EU Blue Card is valid for four years, and those who have it can then immediately get permanent residence if they maintain their jobs. They qualify to get the permanent residence after 33 months, but if they know German sufficiently, they can get it after 21 months.

If you have an EU Blue Card, you can also bring your spouse to Germany. The spouse does not necessarily need to have German proficiency and can work after you receive your permanent residence.

To find out more about the EU Blue Card or for specific legal advice on an EU Blue Card issue, we recommend the EU Blue Card Lawyers from Schlun & Elseven.

Permanent Residence Permit

To be allowed to stay in Germany for as long as you want to, you need to get the German Permanent Residence Permit. A permanent residence permit is also called the Settlement Permit or in German, Niederlassungserlaubnis. With the permanent residence permit, you can work in Germany and travel in and out of the country whenever you need.

This permit is mostly given to people after holding the temporary residence permit for a few years or those with the EU Blue Card. They need to prove that they have worked for at least five years, that the Federal Employment Agency approved their job, and that they have paid the necessary taxes and contributions to the government. Additionally, the German language proficiency requirements are more stringent, so you will need to know more advanced German.

If you have a permanent residence permit, your children and spouse are allowed to join you. They will first get a temporary residence permit, and after a few years, will be able to get the permanent permit.

German Residence Permit Requirements

To be given any of the residence permits, you will need to fulfill a few requirements. Most of them will be the same, such as:

  • Have a valid passport from another country,
  • Not have a criminal record,
  • Be proficient in German in at least a B1 level,
  • Have German health insurance,
  • Pass a health check which proves you are healthy enough to work and/or study,
  • Be financially stable and support yourself and your family,
  • If you plan on working in Germany, you will need a letter from your employer with the job offer and description,
  • If you plan on studying in Germany, you will need proof that you have been admitted into a university,
  • If you plan on joining your spouse in Germany, you will need proof of marriage such as a marriage certificate.

If you have all these documents and fulfill the requirements, you can begin your application process.

However, we recommend contacting a German immigration lawyer such as the dedicated immigration law practice group at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte if you want peace of mind when making your application. Such professionals will ensure that your application follows the requirements and greatly increases the likelihood of a successful application.

Aufenthaltstitel: Unlike the previous permit that was attached to a passport page, the new eAT chip-card residence permit, issued in 2011, is a credit-card-sized plastic card with biometric data. PHOTO:

How to Apply for German Residence Permit?

The steps to applying for a German Residence Permit are as follows.

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Register your German address

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Whether you are applying from Germany within the first 90 days or from your home country, the first thing you must do is register your new German address with the authorities. Germany has this requirement, and you must fulfill it to be eligible for a residence permit.

If you don’t register your address, you could get fined, and your permit might be denied. After you complete this requirement, you will get a certificate which you can attach to your documents.

Health Insurance and Bank Account

If you haven’t already arranged health insurance in Germany, you must do so before applying for the residence permit. Germany requires you to be insured and will rarely accept foreign insurance policies. So, get yourself coverage from a German company.

Additionally, to prove financial stability, you might want to open a German bank account and transfer your funds there. You will then get any financial bank statements and attach them to your other documents, to prove you can support yourself and your family.

Fill an application form and set an appointment.

You can apply from your local immigration office, where you can go and pick up an application form. Besides getting the application form, you can also set up an appointment. The sooner you set your appointment, the better. The immigration offices in Germany are always crowded and the waiting time can long, so you might as well get an appointment soon to avoid surpassing your 90 days.

Attend your Appointment

On the day of your appointment, try to get there as early as possible. You will most likely have to wait even if your appointment has a set time. Make sure you have your document file with you, and you are not missing anything.

When your turn is up, you will have an interview of around 10 minutes. The officer will look at your document file, and if everything is fine, you will be sent home to wait for processing. If you are missing any documents, you will have to set another appointment and bring the additional ones.

Your residence permit request will need to be processed for around two to three weeks, and then you will get an answer. If you get your permit, you can stay in Germany for the length of time that it grants you. If you are denied, you might want to check out the reasons why that happened and try to improve your application the next time. To make sure that your application is free of any mistakes, we recommend working with the mentioned Immigration to Germany Team from Schlun & Elseven.

If, however, you want to get German citizenship, check out the How to become a German Citizen article.


Download Germany Visa Application Form

Please ensure that you complete the form in full, – please also print, sign and bring with you when attending your Visa appointment. Handwritten forms will not be accepted.

A mail exchanger record (MX record) specifies the mail server responsible for accepting email messages on behalf of a domain name. It is a resource record in the Domain Name System (DNS). It is possible to configure several MX records, typically pointing to an array of mail servers for load balancing and redundancy.


Resource records are the basic information element of the Domain Name System (DNS). An MX record is one of these, and a domain may have one or more of these set up, as below:

The characteristic payload information of an MX record[1] is a preference value (above labelled 'Priority'), and the domain name of a mailserver ('Host' above).

The priority field identifies which mailserver should be preferred - in this case the values are both 10, so mail would be expected to flow evenly to both and - a common configuration. The host name must map directly to one or more address records (A, or AAAA) in the DNS, and must not point to any CNAME records.[2]

When an e-mail message is sent through the Internet, the sending mail transfer agent (MTA) queries the Domain Name System for the MX records of each recipient's domain name. This query returns a list of host names of mail exchange servers accepting incoming mail for that domain and their preferences. The sending agent then attempts to establish an SMTP connection, trying the host with the lowest 'Priority' value first. The system allows high-availability clusters of mail gateways to be built for one domain if necessary.[3]

The MX mechanism does not grant the ability to provide mail service on alternative port numbers, nor does it provide the ability to distribute mail delivery across a set of unequal-priority mail servers by assigning a weighting value to each one.

MX preference, distance, and priority[edit]

According to RFC 5321, the lowest-numbered records are the most preferred.[4] This phrasing can be confusing, and so the preference number is sometimes referred to as the distance: smaller distances are more preferable. An older RFC, RFC 974, indicates that when the preference numbers are the same for two servers, they have the same priority, hence those two terms are used interchangeably.

The basics[edit]

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In the simplest case, a domain may have just one mail server. For example, if an MTA looks up the MX records for, and the DNS server replied with only with a preference number of 50, then the MTA will attempt delivery of the mail to the server listed. In this case, the number 50 could have been any integer permitted by the SMTP specification.

When more than one server is returned for an MX query, the server with the smallest preference number must be tried first. If there is more than one MX record with the same preference number, all of those must be tried before moving on to lower-priority entries. An SMTP client must be able to try (and retry) each of the relevant addresses in the list in order, until a delivery attempt succeeds.[4]

Load distribution[edit]

The standard approach to distributing a load of incoming mail over an array of servers is to return the same preference number for each server in the set. When determining which server of equal preference to send mail to, 'the sender-SMTP MUST randomize them to spread the load across multiple mail exchangers for a specific organization', unless there is a clear reason to favor one.[4]

An alternative approach is to use multihomed servers, where the one host returns several IP addresses.[3] This method places the burden on the DNS system rather than the SMTP-sender to perform the load balancing, which in this case will present a list of IP addresses in a specific order to the clients querying the A record of the mail exchanger. Since the RFC requires that the SMTP-sender use the order given in the A record query, the DNS server is free to carefully manipulate its balancing based on any method, including round robin DNS, mail server load, or some undisclosed priority scheme.

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'Backup' MX[edit]

Some domains will have several MX records, one of which is intended as a 'backup' - with a higher preference number so that it would not normally be picked as the target for email delivery.

However, in the case of errors from the lower-numbered hosts, (perhaps due to an outage of some sort), sending email servers will deliver to the 'backup' host - in the example below:

If the backup server has direct access to user mailboxes, mail will proceed there, but otherwise will likely be queued on until the outage is resolved.

In the absence of this sort of arrangement, when a domain's mail servers are all offline, sending servers are required to queue messages destined for that domain to retry later. However, these sending servers have no way of being notified that a previously offline domain's servers are now available, and so resort to a polling schedule - and will only discover that the domain is available whenever they next attempt delivery. The delay between when a receiving domain's servers come online and when delayed messages are finally delivered can be therefore anywhere from minutes to days, depending on the retry schedule of the sending servers - and the receiving domain has no visibility or control over this.


Spammers may deliberately direct mail to one of the backup (high distance) MX servers of a domain first, on the assumption that such a server will have less effective anti-spam filters. An anti-spam technique called nolisting is based on assuming this behaviour.

Handling of delivery failure[edit]

The SMTP RFC[4] is ambiguous about exactly what kinds of delivery failure must result in re-attempting delivery via more distant MX records (those with higher preference values).

When servers indicate temporary failures, either by explicitly sending a 4xx error or by ending the connection unexpectedly (which must be treated as a 451 error, according to Section 3.8 of the RFC), Section says:

The sender MUST delay retrying a particular destination after one attempt has failed.

However, when the sender retries, the RFC is silent about whether this should be to the same server, or a more 'distant' MX record. It does say, in Section 5.1:

When the lookup succeeds, the mapping can result in a list of alternative delivery addresses rather than a single address, because of multiple MX records, multihoming, or both. To provide reliable mail transmission, the SMTP client MUST be able to try (and retry) each of the relevant addresses in this list in order, until a delivery attempt succeeds.

Some servers (such as Sendmail and Postfix 2.1 or later),[5] will attempt the next-furthest MX server after some types of temporary delivery failures, such as greeting failures.[6] Other servers (such as qmail and Postfix 2.0 or earlier) will only use more distant MX records if the servers specified in the shortest-distance MX records could not be contacted at all. Despite the difference, both behaviors are valid - since the RFC is not specific.

Fallback to the address record[edit]

In the absence of an MX record, email senders will attempt delivery to the address record - e.g.

This is based on RFC 5321 sec. 5.1, which states :

  • SMTP clients must look up an MX record;
  • If (and only if) no MX record for the domain is present, treat the domain as if it had an MX record with the given domain as the target hostname and a preference value of 0
  • Perform A or AAAA lookups as required to determine the IP address of the target hostname

Historical background[edit]

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RFC 821 was published in 1982. It makes only passing references to DNS, because at the time the transition from HOSTS.TXT to the DNS had not yet started. RFC 883, the first description of the DNS, was published over a year later in late 1983. It described the experimental and little used MD and MF records. According to RFC 897 and RFC 921, the transition to DNS started in 1983, but HOSTS.TXT was not scheduled to be phased out until the end of 1985 and was not totally phased out until the late 1990s.

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In January 1986, RFC 973 and RFC 974 deprecated the MD and MF records, replaced them with MX, and defined the MX lookup with fallback to A. RFC 974 recommends that clients do a WKS lookup[7] on each MX host to see if it actually supports SMTP and discard the MX entry if not. However, RFC 1123 changed this to say that WKS should not be checked.

This means that SMTP had been in use for at least a year using HOSTS.TXT, and then another couple of years using A, MD, and MF, before MX came along. MD and MF were hard to use, so most people just used the A record. Under the circumstances, MX without fallback to A would not have worked because of the substantial installed base of mail servers using A records. The early use of MX was to identify gateways to other networks, but it did not come into wide use until the DNS was well established in the early 1990s.[8]

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Standards documents[edit]

  • RFC 1035 (1987), Domain Names - Implementation and Specification
  • RFC 1912 (1996), Common DNS Operational and Configuration Errors
  • RFC 5321 (2008), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
  • RFC 7505 (2015), A 'Null MX' No Service Resource Record for Domains That Accept No Mail


  • RFC 2821 (2001), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (obsoleted by RFC-5321)
  • RFC 974 (1986), Mail Routing and the Domain System (obsoleted by RFC-5321)

See also[edit]


  1. ^In these examples, the domain name concerned is in the first column, the TTL (time-to-live) in the second, and the third is the 'record Class' (in this case IN for Internet) - then MX to identify the type of record. The TTL is a validity period, indicating when the information must be refreshed from an authoritative name server.
  2. ^RFC 2181, Section 10.3, Clarifications to the DNS Specification, R. Elz, R. Bush (July 1997)
  3. ^ abHOWTO - Configure Round Robin and Load Balancing, Page modified: February 28 2014.,
  4. ^ abcdRFC 5321
  5. ^If the primary MX responds, but fails mid-transaction, Postfix 1.2 and 2.0 will not try a backup MX.Archived 2009-06-23 at the Wayback Machine, Re: does not change to mx with lower priority, From: Victor Duchovni ( Date: Fri Nov 11 2005
  6. ^A greeting failure is an error-code that is sent instead of or in response to the standard SMTP greeting handshake.
  7. ^Craig Partridge (January 1986). MAIL ROUTING AND THE DOMAIN SYSTEM. IETF. doi:10.17487/RFC0974. RFC974. Retrieved 18 November 2011. For each MX, a WKS query should be issued to see if the domain name listed actually supports the mail service desired. MX RRs which list domain names which do not support the service should be discarded. This step is optional, but strongly encouraged.
  8. ^This section is adapted from John Levineietf-smtp messageArchived 2008-06-01 at the Wayback Machine
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