In a historic move, the German Bundestag has approved extensive changes to the nation’s citizenship law, ushering in a new era of inclusivity and flexibility. The law came into force on Thursday, 27th June 2024. Foreign residents in Germany can now apply for German citizenship after five years of residency, a notable reduction from the previous requirement of eight years. In some exceptional cases, it will be possible for individuals to apply for German citizenship after three years. Furthermore, the new law should lead to a substantial transformation in the landscape of German dual citizenship law, carrying considerable implications for residents and their families.

In light of these developments, it is crucial to seek guidance from German citizenship lawyers to fully comprehend the implications of German and dual citizenship. The experienced citizenship law team at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte stands ready to provide expert advice on these matters. Our lawyers advise on all aspects of German citizenship, including gaining German citizenship by descent, German citizenship by residency, dual citizenship, and much more. We provide full-service support to those involved in such cases. Please do not hesitate to contact us directly for specialised guidance.

You can contact our law office anytime if you have a particular issue or legal question concerning German citizenship law. Our German lawyers can be reached by phone and email and provide video conferencing options. For further information on German citizenship law, please visit our German citizenship law homepage.

Fundamental Changes in the New German Citizenship Law

Reduced Residency Requirement

The new German citizenship law brings about fundamental shifts, notably in the residency requirement for obtaining German citizenship. Instead of the previous eight-year minimum stay, the revised legislation mandates a reduced residency period of five years. This adjustment aims to expedite the naturalisation process, allowing eligible residents to attain citizenship sooner and fostering a stronger sense of belonging and integration within German society.

Another pivotal change within the legislation pertains to the citizenship rights of children born to foreign parents in Germany. Previously, such children were eligible for German citizenship if one parent had resided in Germany for eight years before their birth. This requirement has been reduced to five years, recognising the challenges faced by children born and raised in Germany who previously faced extended residency prerequisites for acquiring citizenship.

Acceptance of Multiple Citizenship

One of the groundbreaking alterations in the revised law is the acceptance of dual and multiple citizenships. Applicants are no longer compelled to renounce their original citizenship when obtaining a German passport. This change is particularly significant for those from non-European Union countries, as it will allow them to acquire German citizenship without severing ties to their countries of origin. Before this legal change, dual citizenship in Germany was permitted for those coming to Germany from other EU member states and in some different situations; however, now dual citizenship is much more accessible.

Additionally, children who acquire German citizenship through this provision will retain their parents’ citizenship. This approach to dual citizenship acknowledges and respects cultural heritage and ties to the parent’s country of origin while granting children the rights and privileges associated with German citizenship.

No Longer Required to Renounce German Citizenship when Naturalising Abroad

The revised citizenship law also eliminates the requirement for German citizens based abroad to renounce their citizenship when naturalising in another country. This monumental change acknowledges the interconnected nature of the modern world and recognises the value of maintaining ties to multiple countries. It offers greater flexibility and opportunities for individuals seeking citizenship in other countries without severing their German connections, promoting cultural diversity and fostering global connections. Before this legal change, an exception had been generally granted for those who have obtained the Retention Permit (die Beibehaltungsgenehmigung).

By allowing greater access to dual citizenship, Germany acknowledges the increasingly interconnected world and recognises the value of maintaining ties to multiple countries. This pending change should offer greater flexibility and opportunities for individuals who wish to acquire citizenship in another country without severing their German ties, promoting cultural diversity and fostering global connections.

Adapted Language Skills Requirements for the Gastarbeiter Generation

Recognising the challenges faced by some immigrants who arrived in Germany during the “Gastarbeiter” generation, the new German citizenship also modifies the German language skills requirements. Instead of demanding B1 level German, the new law considers conversational German language skills sufficient for those of this group. Additionally, the requirement for a citizenship test for the Gastarbeiter group will be waived, further streamlining the process.

The term “Gastarbeiter generation” refers to the guest worker generation in Germany, primarily individuals who migrated from other countries in the 1950s and 1960s to address the post-war labour shortage. These guest workers, often from southern Europe and Turkey, were initially intended to fill temporary employment needs but later became a significant and permanent part of Germany’s social fabric. The Gastarbeiter generation played a crucial role in Germany’s economic development and contributed to the country’s cultural diversity.

Factors to be Considered with German Citizenship

The new German citizenship law underscores the importance of various factors in determining citizenship, ushering in a more comprehensive and nuanced approach to the naturalisation process. The changes strongly emphasise specific factors contributing to an individual’s integration and positive impact on German society. Language skills, educational background, career prospects in Germany, social participation, and a commitment to the free democratic basic order are pivotal elements that weigh into citizenship decisions. This holistic approach ensures that those who actively contribute to the fabric of German society are duly recognised in citizenship decisions.

Accelerated Naturalisation and Integration

One of the notable features of the new law is the simplified citizenship process geared towards fostering accelerated integration. Reducing the minimum residency requirement from eight to five years makes the path to citizenship more accessible and appealing. Exceptional cases involving extraordinary educational or professional achievements, social commitment, and exceptional language skills will be able qualify an individual for citizenship within three years. This progressive approach positions Germany at the forefront of European nations, actively encouraging individuals to integrate fully into German society.

While the specifics of these exceptional cases are not explicitly defined in the legislation, seeking guidance from knowledgeable professionals is advisable to face these nuances effectively.

Criminal Activity as a Means of Exclusion from Citizenship

While aiming to simplify the citizenship acquisition process, the new law will seek to maintain a careful balance by excluding individuals with certain criminal convictions. In alignment with Germany’s commitment to inclusivity and upholding democratic values, the new law expressly states that criminal convictions related to anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobic, or inhumane acts serve as grounds for exclusion from German citizenship.

This provision reinforces Germany’s unwavering stance against hate crimes and ensures that those who engage in such behaviour are not granted the privileges and rights associated with German citizenship. By doing so, the legislation serves as a protective measure to uphold the integrity of German citizenship, reserving it for individuals who genuinely embody a commitment to inclusivity, respect, and equality.

Working with German Citizenship Lawyers

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our German citizenship lawyers are well-versed in German citizenship law and the changes the new law will bring to the process. We understand the complexities of the legal requirements and can guide applicants through the application process, ensuring compliance with all necessary documentation and procedures. Whether assessing eligibility criteria, preparing the necessary paperwork, or representing clients in legal proceedings, our lawyers are dedicated to providing top-quality legal services.

Facing the German citizenship process can be challenging, especially for individuals unfamiliar with German laws and regulations. Additionally, our German citizenship lawyers are equipped to handle cases involving dual and multiple citizenships and can assist clients in understanding the implications and benefits of maintaining dual citizenship. They provide expert advice on the legal rights and obligations of holding multiple citizenships, ensuring clients make informed choices.


These changes in Germany’s citizenship law mark a significant stride in fostering a more inclusive society and promoting integration among immigrants and expatriates. With the new law, Germany has introduced fundamental changes such as reducing the residency requirement, accepting multiple citizenships, and adapting language skill requirements. These reforms aim to bolster social cohesion and guarantee equal opportunities, rights, and responsibilities for expatriates alongside German citizens.

In the face of these transformative changes, collaboration with German citizenship lawyers becomes paramount for individuals facing the citizenship process in Germany. Whether deciphering the nuances of the new law, evaluating eligibility criteria, or managing essential documentation, our legal professionals at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte are well-prepared to guide applicants through the intricacies of German citizenship law.

With a commitment to delivering expert advice and unwavering support, our dedicated team stands ready to ensure a seamless and successful citizenship application process for all individuals seeking to make Germany their permanent home.