Update February 3, 2024:
On January 19, 2024, the Bundestag passed an amendment to the Citizenship Act; Bundesrat approved it on February 2. The bill essentially provides for the following changes:
- the periods of residence in Germany required for naturalization will be reduced from 8 to 5 years,
- in the case of “special integration achievements” (special professional/school achievements or civic commitment and C1 language skills), a reduction to 3 years is possible,
- in the case of naturalization, the previous citizenship can be retained,
- naturalization is not possible when receiving social benefits (exception: full-time employed persons)
- upon acceptance of a foreign citizenship, German citizenship is not lost (“Beibehaltungsgenehmigung” is no longer required).
The law comes into force three months after publication in the Law Gazette. It is expected that the regulations are in force in May/June 2024.
If you live in Berlin, please also note the following:
Since 1 January 2024, a central naturalization office at the Immigration Office is responsible for processing naturalization procedures in Berlin. New applications have to be submitted digitally via an online platform.
All unprocessed applications have been digitized and will be processed by the new central authority. Due to around 40,000 unprocessed applications, a longer processing time is still to be expected.
Unfortunately, we have no way to speed up the processing of ongoing procedures. Due to the length of administrative court proceedings, an appeal for inaction to the Court does usually not accelerate the proceedings.
We will provide information on current developments here.
Until the new regulations come into force, the following requirements apply to naturalizations:
The right of naturalization is a complex question and depends on individual circumstances. Nevertheless the naturalization law contains some general requirements to obtain a right for naturalisation. Furthermore a certain time of legal residence is needed for naturalization.
General requirements are:
- legal residency in Germany since 8 years, (7 years with integration course, 6 years with special integration skills, such as B2 language proficieny).
- Sufficient means of substance (few exceptions possible)
- Sufficient knowledge of the German language (B1)
- No conviction for a major crime
- renunciation of the previous nationality (few exceptions possible)
For spouses of German citizens a naturalization may be possible after three years of residence.
In cases of public interest (e.g. by highly skilled scientists , arts, culture, media or sports) three years can be sufficient.
Germany does not provide special conditions for investors or business person.
Citizenship by birth
Children, born in Germany after January 2000 obtain the German citizenship by birth, if either one of the parents is German citizen or
- one of the parents has his legal residence in Germany since eight years, and
- has a settlement-permit.
The citizenship will be obtained if a child under the age of 18 years will be adopted by a German citizen.
If the German father of a child acknowledges the paternity, the child obtains the German citizenship, in case that the declaration is made before the child becomes 23 years old.
Loss of German Citizenship
The German citizenship will be lost by
- dismissal, abandonment or declaration
- acquisition of any other citizenship by application
- Abandonment of the former nationality (exceptions are possible, if the abandonment is not possible or not reasonable)
- adoption by an alien
- entrance to the armed forces of any other country
A former German Citizen can apply for a settlement permit or residence permit under facilitated conditions.
If you have questions regarding your citizenship get in contact to our Specialist in Immigration Law Sven Hasse.