German Citizenship by Naturalisation
According to § 10 Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (Nationality Act), Citizenship shall be obtained only if you lawfully have habitual residence in Germany for eight years and be able to act in accordance with § 80 of the Residence Act. This period might be reduced to six years in case of some special measures to obtain the German citizenship in exceptional conditions.
What does it mean to have German Citizenship?
When you are living in Germany even as a permanent resident, you do not qualify as a citizen of Germany. This somehow limits your position compared with a German citizen, and that is why so many permanent residents of Germany seek to get citizenship.
Having German citizenship gives you rights and freedoms that non-citizens do not have. You will have these opportunities as a German citizen:
- The right of free movement! You may travel without a visa to 177 countries! The German passport is one of the most valued passports in world!
- The right to live, work, and study with no tuition fees in Germany
- The right to live, work, or study in the UK or other EU or EEA countries, with very few restrictions
- The right to vote in all State and Federal elections
- The right of assembly and association
- Consular protection
- Unrestricted access to find a job in Germany
- The right to become a civil servant (in Germany so called “Beamter”)
Besides the rights as per the German constitution, you will also have the obligations and duties that each German citizen has. This includes the integration in society, respect for and obedience of all laws, and even German military service.
German Citizenship Requirements for Naturalization
You must have lived in Germany based on a legal residence permit for at least 8 years: this period might be seven years if you attended an integration course and six years if besides the integration course, you graduate from a German University and obtain an academic degree at the time of application. This period will be only three years if you get married with a German national due to some circumstances according § 9 Nationality Act.
You must prove German language proficiency (at least level B1). In some exceptional cases, the applicant might be exempt from this requirement.
You must have sufficient financial resources to maintain yourself and your family members and not seek social assistance. In other words, you must have regular and sufficient income.
For this purpose, applicants must have proof of current gainful employment and income (for employees: employment contract, payroll, and for self-employed applicants: business registration, shareholders’ agreement, extract from commercial register, current income tax assessment, notice of pension)
- You must be a citizen with no criminal record and no threat for society.
- You must pass a citizenship test (so called Einbürgerungstest in Germany). In some exceptional cases, the applicant might be exempt from this requirement.
- You must have sufficient health insurance contract
- You must leave any previous citizenships (except in case of Dual Citizenship) *
- Payment of 255 Euro per adult and 51 Euro for minors.
German language evidences
- A certification that you have obtained through an integration course, such as the “DTZ – German test for immigrants”
- A certificate which proves you have successfully completed at least 4 years of school in Germany (including secondary school or upper secondary school)
- Proof of completion of higher education degrees from a German university or institution.
If you do not have any document which proves your language proficiency, you can complete a government language test directed by your citizenship authority.
Citizenship Application Process
If you fulfill all above-mentioned pre-conditions, you may start the application process for German Citizenship!
First of all, you need to go to the local immigration office in your place of residence in Germany to ask about the conditions and get the application form.
Naturalization office (Einbürgerungsbehörde) is responsible for the process.
Please note that the Foreigners’ Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) is not responsible for any matters relating to naturalization.
Depending on the city you live in and many other factors, the process might take between 3 to 6 months. You may consult with an experienced lawyer for more support in this process to check your eligibility to obtain a German citizenship. Each individual case shall be analyzed independently.
*Dual Citizenship is allowed for EU and Swiss nationals. It is also tolerated for people whose countries of origin do not allow them to renounce their citizenship. These include Iran, Algeria, Syria and several Latin American countries.