What are the steps to citizenship

How can I apply for German citizenship?

Given that Germany is a country where many people want to live, work and study, the demand for German citizenship is very high. Germany is a country full of bureaucratic procedures which are quite complicated. Even the Federal Foreign Office notes that citizenship law is immensely complicated.

Even so, we've broken this guide down into comprehensive sections that can give you tips, requirements, and application processes that show you how to become a German citizen.

What does it mean to have German citizenship?

If you live with a permanent residence in Germany, you do not qualify as a German citizen. This limits your status and that is why so many permanent residents in Germany seek German citizenship.

German citizenship gives you rights and freedoms that non-citizens do not have. As a German citizen, you have the following options in Germany:

  • Suffrage.
  • The right to freedom of movement.
  • The right of assembly and association.
  • The right to consular protection.
  • Unrestricted access to the German labor market.
  • The right to become a civil servant, etc.

In addition to the rights of the German constitution, you also have the duties of every German citizen. This includes integration into society, respect and obedience to all laws and even potential German military service.

Types of German citizenship

Becoming a German citizen is not possible under all circumstances. There are three general cases that can lead to your obtaining German citizenship.

  • By naturalization.
  • Through a German parent (principle of descent).
  • By birth in Germany (so-called Jus Soli).

Obtaining citizenship through naturalization requires that you have met certain requirements that the federal government has set and that you are qualified to apply for German citizenship. The other type of blood or jus sanguinis means that you can obtain German citizenship if you are a direct descendant of German citizens. This “right to blood” includes only your parents and no other relatives. “Land law” or “Jus Soli” means that you were born within the borders of Germany, that is, on German soil, and this is how you receive your citizenship.

All persons with the exception of EU, EEA or Swiss nationals must meet the requirements and fall into one of these categories in order to receive German citizenship.

Although these three cases seem fairly straightforward, each has its own set of rules and regulations that we will discuss further. It should also be noted that it can be very difficult to get the proper paperwork and get everything you need to do within the timeframe. Working with dedicated immigration law attorneys like those of Schlun & Elseven Attorneys at Law helps speed up the process or solve potential problems during the process.

German naturalization

German naturalization means that you apply for citizenship after a certain period of time in Germany as a permanent place of residence. There are many restrictions and requirements for naturalization so not everyone can get them.

Citizenship requirements for naturalization

The requirements that you must meet to qualify for naturalization are as follows:

  • You must have lived in Germany with a residence permit for at least eight years, or
  • You must have lived in Germany for seven years with a residence permit and attended an integration course (this will be six years under special integration conditions).
  • You have to prove at least B1 German language skills.
  • You must be financially able to support yourself and your family without government assistance.
  • You must be a law abiding citizen with no criminal record.
  • You must pass a citizenship test.
  • You have to renounce previous citizenships.

Your residency records are in the government system, so this is an easy requirement to meet. For the sake of financial stability, you can submit bank statements and other documents detailing your financial situation. Also, you will have to give up all previous citizenships unless the other country doesn't allow it or it is impossible to give up them. This impossibility is the case with many conflicting countries like Syria.

One of the most important requirements in this case, which you have to prove through tests, is your language skills. You can prove that you have a command of German up to level B1 required by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages ​​by submitting one of the following documents:

  • A German language certificate like the Zertifikat Deutsch.
  • A certification that you have obtained through an integration course such as the "DTZ - German test for immigrants".
  • A certificate that proves that you have completed a German secondary school.
  • Proof of admission to a German secondary level II.
  • A certificate that proves that you have passed at least four school years in German with a passed grade.
  • Proof of completion of a university degree in German.

If you don't have a document proving your language proficiency, you can take a state language test conducted by your citizenship authority. In any case, you must have the required level of German to be eligible for naturalization or another German citizenship.

Professional guidance and support

Preparing your German citizenship application through naturalization can be a daunting task. There are many steps and aspects of the process. When you have professionals in your corner overseeing your application, you have the best chance of success. We can recommend working with the well-known German naturalization experts Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte. Her lawyers advise private and business customers on all immigration issues in Germany and are widely recognized, as their high customer ratings show.

How do I apply for German citizenship naturalization?

If you can demonstrate that you meet all of the naturalization requirements, you can begin the application process. All persons over 16 years of age are obliged to apply. Parents and legal guardians of children under the age of 16 apply for it. The steps to apply for naturalization are as follows:

Get an application form

Since Germany is a large country, every state and area has its own immigration office to apply for naturalization. To start the process, you will need to obtain a naturalization application form from one of the following locations:

  • The local immigration service
  • If you live in an urban area, go to the city council.
  • If you live in a German district, contact the regional district office.
  • The city council or other local authorities.

Fill out the application form and start creating a file with all the documents showing that you meet the requirements.

Pass the German citizenship test

To prove that you are ready to receive German citizenship, you must pass the citizenship test. This test comprises 33 multiple-choice questions about German life, society, rules and laws as well as questions about where you live. The test lasts an hour and you must answer at least 17 questions correctly to pass the test. If you pass the test, you will be given a certificate of naturalization to add to your document file.

To prepare for the test, you can take an integration course, use the practical test options of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees or simply read further information on German life and law.

You can be exempted from the naturalization test if you belong to one of these groups:

  • You cannot take the test due to age, illness or disability.
  • You are under 16 years of age.
  • You have a degree from a German university in politics, law or social sciences.

Pay the naturalization fees

There are certain fees associated with applying for German citizenship through naturalization. These are the fees you will have to pay:

  • Application form for 255 euros for adults
  • Application form for 51 euros for children under 16 years of age
  • Naturalization / citizenship test for 25 euros
  • Citizenship certificate for 25 euros

Submit all documents

Bring the documents showing that you meet the naturalization requirements, such as: B. Your application form, supporting documents showing that you have paid all fees and your certificate of naturalization to the application office. The officers will go through your case and if you are approved you will be given the citizenship certificate. The certificate now proves that you are a German citizen and not just permanent residence.

German citizenship through marriage

People who qualify for naturalization are not just those who have had permanent residence in Germany for a certain period of time. If you marry a German citizen, you can also obtain citizenship by applying for naturalization.

Foreigners who are already married to a German citizen still have to meet all the requirements for naturalization and pass the test. However, they should also meet the requirements for marriage. The “marriage requirements” mean that the foreign spouse cannot apply for naturalization unless the couple has been married for at least two years and has lived in Germany for at least three years.

German citizenship according to ancestry

The second type of German citizenship is the principle of descent or else Jus Sanguinis called. The descent principle means that you have at least one German parent. In addition, it does not take into account whether you were born in Germany or not. You acquire German citizenship by descent if your parents register you with the German authorities in the country in which you were born before you turn one year old. If your parents are of different nationalities, you will receive German citizenship; However, between the ages of 18 and 23 you have five years to decide which nationality to keep.

If your parents are divorced, you can only obtain German citizenship if your parents recognize you as their rightful child in accordance with the rules of German law.

You cannot obtain German citizenship if you were born abroad and your German parents were also born abroad after January 1, 2000. This rule can be circumvented if you were stateless as a child, if the German authorities would not accept it and give you German citizenship. In addition, you cannot claim German citizenship through ancestors other than your parents, including German citizenship through grandparents.

Another case in which you can obtain German citizenship by parentage is if German citizens adopted you as a child under the age of 18.

As can be seen, German citizenship by descent or descent is not an easy task in most cases. Obtaining the appropriate documents to prove your eligibility can be difficult and the application itself can take a long time to process. It should also be noted that dual citizenship is often not allowed in such cases and the loss of your current citizenship can be the result of this form of citizenship. However, there are many advantages of German citizenship if you want to continue your application.

Legal advice from professionals is often the best course of action when considering German citizenship by origin. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, the committed citizenship of the Descent team will examine all aspects of your case and advise you on how to proceed. Should applying for citizenship be your best option, they will assist you and oversee the entire application.

Acquisition of German citizenship through birth

If you have no German parents but were born within the borders of Germany, you can qualify for citizenship through birth or land law. This is known as Jus Soli citizenship. You can obtain this type of citizenship under the following conditions:

  • If at least one of your parents lived in Germany for at least eight years before the child was born,
  • If at the time of the birth of the child one of the parents had a permanent residence permit.

To obtain this type of citizenship, the child must again choose the citizenship of the parents or the citizenship of Germany between 18 and 23 years of age. The child has to give up the nationality of the parents in order to obtain German or apply for dual citizenship.

Only children born after February 2, 1990 are entitled to receive this type of citizenship.

German dual citizenship

Having dual German citizenship is not an easy task. You cannot have dual citizenship in Germany if you do not belong to one of these groups:

  • You come from an EU country or the former Soviet Union.
  • You come from a country where you cannot give up your citizenship.
  • You are an ethnic German.
  • You have parents from the USA.
  • You have received permission from the German authorities to keep another citizenship.

The other country's rules are also crucial as they can determine what dual citizenship rights you have. If you live in Germany, the country considers you a German citizen and you are entitled to German services and consular help. However, if you live in the country of your other citizenship, you cannot use the German services and you cannot get help from the German consulate.

However, this does not mean that you can abandon your obligations. In many cases, you may have to pay taxes in both countries where you are a citizen and do military service under German law.

Dual citizenship USA / Germany

Under US and German law, you can be a citizen of either country. Dual German / US citizenship can only be achieved if the child is born to an American and a German parent. In this case, the child does not have to give up either nationality and can have both.

If the child lives in the United States, they may have German citizenship but will not be able to use German services. The reverse is also true. US and German dual nationals are not exempt from military service and may need to file taxes in both countries. In addition, they cannot enter the USA with a German passport and vice versa. You must present the German passport to enter Germany and the US passport to enter the USA.

When an American citizen applies for naturalization in Germany, the American must give up his US citizenship in order to obtain German citizenship.

Dual citizenship Germany / UK

As with dual citizenship for the US and Germany, this also applies to Germany and the UK. Children born with one parent from the UK and one from Germany have the right to retain both citizenships.

With the UK leaving the EU, matters have become more complicated for those who work and live in Germany with British citizenship. Germany allows EU citizens to have dual citizenship, but now that the UK will not be in the EU due to Brexit, it is still unclear what will happen.

It has been proposed that British citizens be given dual citizenship so that Germany can move freely within the EU. This has yet to be resolved and depends on Germany allowing UK citizens applying for German citizenship to retain their UK citizenship.

Giving up German citizenship

The German rules do not allow their citizens to give up their German citizenship. In particular, if the German citizen wants to renounce his citizenship in order to avoid an obligation to Germany such as taxes or military service, he is not allowed to do so. Since you cannot give up citizenship, you can lose it in the following circumstances:

  • If you apply for this to the German authorities and another country has offered you citizenship.
  • If a foreigner adopts a German child, the child loses German citizenship.
  • If you join the armed forces of the country in which you have another citizenship without the permission of the German authorities,
  • If you get another citizenship, you will lose your German citizenship.
  • If your citizenship was obtained through naturalization and you lose it due to illegal activity.

Renaturation of German citizenship

If you have renounced your German citizenship in the past or have lost it for reasons other than criminal reasons, you can apply for renaturation. The procedure is the same as for those applying for naturalization for the first time and you will need to give up all previous citizenships.

The Loss of Citizenship, Dual Citizenship, and Retention of Citizenship Act are inherently complex. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you seek advice in the field of German immigration law from committed lawyers, for example from the experts already recommended by Schlun & Elseven Attorneys at Law.