Effects of gainful activity on the residence title
Gainful activity and vocational training play a major role with regard to the option of staying in Germany permanently.
Persons with exceptional leave to remain (Duldung) may obtain a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) under certain conditions. In addition to the option of exceptional leave to remain for education and training (Ausbildungsduldung), gainful activity can have another positive effect: The "Granting of residence in the case of lasting integration" ("Aufenthaltsgewährung bei nachhaltiger Integration") - Section 25b German Residence Act and the "Temporary residence permit for the purpose of employment for qualified foreigners whose deportation has been suspended" ("Aufenthaltserlaubnis für qualifizierte Geduldete zum Zweck der Beschäftigung") - Section 18a German Residence Act are relevant in this regard. A secure livelihood can also have a positive effect on the "hardship provision" ("Härtefallregelung") – Section 23a German Residence Act.
Persons with a residence permit who apply for a permanent settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) are also required to submit proof of a regular income. The required period of prior residence for a settlement permit can be reduced from five to three years if the applicant can secure the majority of his/her own livelihood and also if he/she has good German skills (settlement permit after 5 years: if 50% of a person's income comes from public benefits and their German language skills correspond to Level A2; settlement permit after 3 years: if 25% of a person's overall income comes from public benefits and their German language skills correspond to Level C1 (Section 26 German Residence Act – Duration of residence).
Information from the Berlin Senate on applying for a settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) for formally recognised asylum seekers and refugees can be found here.