In principle, German citizenship is acquired by birth (ius soli) or by descent (ius sanguinis). However, it is also possible to acquire citizenship through residency. However, specific requirements must be met for this. With the planning of a new German citizenship by residency law, which is to contain relaxed requirements, citizenship by residency should be easier in future for many people living in Germany than previously assumed.

Planned changes have so far been laid down in the coalition agreement and in a draft bill of the Ministry of the Interior.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our German citizenship lawyers are available to advise on all matters relating to German citizenship. Allow our team of experts to oversee your application and advise you regarding any legal issues that may arise.

If you have a particular issue or legal question concerning German citizenship or immigration law, you can contact our law office at anytime. Our lawyers for German citizenship law can be reached by phone, email and also provide video conferencing options. For more information, please visit our German citizenship homepage.

Current Regulations for German Citizenship by Residency

The right to German citizenship is currently regulated in § 10 German Nationality Act. According to this, the claimant must

  • have lived in Germany for at least 8 years,
  • be able to demonstrate a secure livelihood,
  • have a permanent right of residence,
  • have sufficient language skills (level B1),
  • have no previous convictions,
  • give up their previous citizenship,
  • declare their support for the free democratic basic order of the German Constitution and provide proof of their knowledge of the legal and social order and living conditions in Germany by passing a naturalisation test, and
  • fit into German living conditions and not be married to more than one spouse.

Meanwhile, the cost is €255 per person and €52 per minor child who is naturalised together with an adult.

Planned Changes for German Citizenship by Residency Law

The most critical changes in regulations regarding German citizenship by residency are to be the following:

  • Regular naturalisation is to be possible after only 5 years (instead of after 8 as before).
  • In the case of notable integration achievements, for example, in school or at work, naturalisation is to be achievable after only 3 years.
  • Giving up the previous nationality should no longer be a prerequisite.
  • The hurdles for the “guest worker” generation are to be lowered.
  • For persons aged 67 and over, the required language skills are to be lowered from B1 to oral communication.
  • German citizenship is to be granted to a child born in Germany if at least one parent has been legally resident in Germany for at least five years.

One of the most significant planned developments is that citizens from third countries will no longer need to give up their previous citizenship to become German citizens. However, applicants should be aware that although Germany will allow them to acquire citizenship without giving up their previous citizenship, it may be that their citizenship of origin may not permit dual citizenship.

Advantages of German Citizenship

Obtaining German citizenship brings with it several advantages and rights. For example, nationals in Germany are allowed to vote as well as to run for political office themselves.

In addition, nationals are holders of all the basic rights in the German Constitution- including the so-called “German basic rights”, such as freedom of assembly, which is enshrined in Article 8 German Constitution.

German citizenship guarantees freedom of movement within the European Union, a free choice of residence and domicile, visa-free travel to many countries, and consular protection worldwide.

Current Status of Planned Changes

A draft bill of the Ministry of the Interior (a so-called draft bill) is available. After it has been revised, the cabinet will discuss and vote on it. Only then will a formal government draft be available, which will then be introduced in the German Bundestag.

If the legislative process is successful, the regulations are expected to enter into force in the summer of 2023.

Further Developments in German Immigration, Citizenship and Residence Law

Intending to attract more skilled workers from abroad to Germany, the Federal Government intends to revise the entire immigration and citizenship law.

Opportunity Card

For example, an “opportunity card” and a points system are planned as part of this. These are to be structured according to the Canadian model.

An “opportunity card” is intended to allow foreigners from third countries to come to Germany and look for a job locally. The criteria are the individual’s professional qualifications, German language skills, previous work experience, age and whether the person already has a connection to Germany.

Migration Package 1 – Right of Opportunity to Reside

On 2 December 2022, the Bundestag passed the bill to introduce a right of opportunity to stay. With the right of opportunity residence, long-term tolerated persons (= foreigners who are neither entitled to asylum nor refugees but are protected by a ban on deportation) are to receive an 18-month residence permit and thus have the opportunity to fulfil the still open requirements for a right to stay.

Further points of Migration Package 1 are:

  • The planned adjustment of the right to stay for young people and long-term tolerated persons with minor children,
  • a deferral of regulations on the immigration of skilled workers and easier family reunification by eliminating the language requirement,
  • access to integration and vocational language courses for asylum seekers and
  • more consistent repatriation of criminals and dangerous persons by facilitating expulsion and ordering detention pending deportation.

Skilled Workers Immigration Act

As provided for in the coalition agreement, the federal government has adopted several “key points on skilled labour immigration from third countries”.

According to these, persons without a qualification recognised in Germany can demonstrate their competencies through a qualification analysis.

The requirements are at least 2 years of work experience, a vocational qualification recognised by the state in the country of origin and lasting at least 2 years, and an employment contract.

Our Services in German Citizenship Law

If you have any questions about German citizenship by residency or related issues and would like personal legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact our citizenship law team at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte. We are at your disposal for comprehensive legal assistance.

We will also be happy to check whether you meet the requirements for citizenship and apply for it on your behalf.