Germany, known for its robust economy, central location at the heart of Europe and rich cultural heritage, has long been a sought-after destination for immigrants. People come from all over the world to work, study and live in the country’s bustling metropolises. However, the number of successful naturalisations based on residency in recent years has been relatively small compared to other European Union countries.

A new citizenship bill has been proposed in Germany in 2023 to simplify the citizenship process to address this issue and promote a more inclusive society. This article explores the benefits of a streamlined approach of the German citizenship law changes and the essential modifications outlined in the bill. Please note that these changes are not yet in force at the time of writing.

As of August 2023, the cabinet of the German government has approved the bill, and it will now be placed before the Bundestag/Parliament. The German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has stated that it could be in force in January 2024, in the ideal scenario.

Even with the new proposed citizenship law changes, the role of German citizenship lawyers remains vital by assisting individuals throughout the citizenship process. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our team provides expert advice and full-service support to clients worldwide in all matters relating to German citizenship law, including an online eligibility check for German citizenship by descent. 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 Proposed Bill

Reduced Residency Requirement

Instead of the current eight-year minimum stay in Germany, the proposed new German citizenship law changes suggest that five years of residency will suffice to entitle an individual to apply for citizenship. This reduction enables eligible residents to become citizens sooner, fostering a sense of belonging and integration.

Furthermore, the proposed bill should address the citizenship rights of children born to foreign parents in Germany. Under the current circumstances, such children are granted German citizenship if at least one parent has resided in Germany for eight years before their birth. This situation looks set to change as the new bill aims to reduce this requirement to five years. This shift acknowledges the potential difficulties faced by children born and raised in Germany face who do not automatically acquire German citizenship due to the protracted residency prerequisite.

Acceptance of Multiple Citizenship

Under the proposed new German citizenship law, multiple citizenships will be accepted, and applicants will not be required to give up their original citizenship when obtaining a German passport. This change is particularly significant for immigrants who came to Germany intending to return to their home countries, allowing them to receive German citizenship without relinquishing their ties to their countries of origin.

Furthermore, it is noteworthy that under the proposed German citizenship law changes, children who acquire German citizenship through this revised provision will also retain their parents’ citizenship. This dual citizenship approach acknowledges and respects the cultural heritage and ties to the parent’s country of origin while simultaneously granting the children the rights and privileges associated with German citizenship.

Likewise, the proposed bill aims to abolish the loss of German nationality in cases of adoption by a foreigner, as stated in § 27 German Nationality Act (StAG).

These proposed citizenship law changes reflect a progressive approach to citizenship, emphasising the importance of cultural diversity, integration, and equal opportunities for all residents of Germany.

No Longer Required to Renounce German Citizenship when Naturalising Abroad

The proposed German citizenship law changes will likely also have an enormous impact on German citizens based abroad, as one of the significant changes proposed in the new bill is that individuals should no longer lose their German citizenship if they become citizens of another country. This modification demonstrates a substantial departure from the current law, which generally requires individuals to renounce their German citizenship when acquiring citizenship in third countries. An exception has been generally granted for those who have obtained the Retention Permit (die Beibehaltungsgenehmigung) before their naturalization.

By allowing dual citizenship, Germany acknowledges the increasingly interconnected world and recognises the value of maintaining ties to multiple countries. This change offers 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 bill modifies the language skills requirements. Instead of demanding B1 level German, the proposed bill considers conversational German language skills sufficient.

Additionally, the requirement for a citizenship test will be waived, further streamlining the process.

Factors to be Considered with German Citizenship

The proposed new German citizenship law changes emphasise that citizenship decisions should be based on factors such as language skills, education, career prospects in Germany, social participation, and a commitment to the free democratic basic order. The process becomes more comprehensive by assessing these factors, ensuring that individuals who contribute positively to German society are rewarded with citizenship.

Accelerated Naturalisation and Integration

The simplified citizenship process outlined in the bill is designed to encourage accelerated integration. Reducing the minimum stay requirement from eight to five years makes the path to citizenship more attainable and attractive. Furthermore, exceptional cases involving extraordinary educational or professional accomplishments, social commitment, and outstanding language skills can qualify an individual for citizenship in as little as three years. This innovative approach is among the first in Europe and encourages individuals to integrate into German society fully.

It is not stated precisely what these exceptional cases will involve, and therefore it is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable professional in such matters.

Criminal Activity as a Means of Exclusion from Citizenship

Although the proposed new German citizenship law changes aim to simplify granting citizenship, they will not open the doors to everyone. Those with criminal convictions in particular areas will be prevented from gaining citizenship. In line with Germany’s commitment to fostering an inclusive society and upholding democratic values, the proposed bill for simplified citizenship acknowledges that criminal convictions based on anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobic, or inhumane acts should be grounds for exclusion from German citizenship.

The commitment to the free democratic basic order of Germany, which has already been required in the past, is made more precise. The draft clarifies that “anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobic or other actions motivated by contempt for humanity” are incompatible with the German Constitution’s guarantee of human dignity.

This provision reflects the nation’s strong stance against hate crimes and ensures that individuals who engage in such behaviour are not granted the privileges and rights associated with German citizenship. Doing so serves as a safeguard to protect the integrity of German citizenship and ensure that it is granted to those who demonstrate a genuine commitment to inclusivity, respect, and equality.

Working with German Citizenship Lawyers

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our German citizenship lawyers are well-versed in the proposed German citizenship law changes outlined in the new bill. 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.

Navigating the 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. With the proposed changes in the bill accepting the retention of original citizenship, our lawyers can assist clients in understanding the implications and benefits of maintaining dual citizenship. They can provide expert advice on the legal rights and obligations associated with holding multiple citizenships, ensuring that clients make informed choices.

Impact on German Citizenship by Descent

The landscape for individuals of German descent interested in seeking German citizenship has evolved significantly with the proposed amendments in the new German citizenship law, primarily due to the broader acceptance of multiple and dual citizenship. Currently, individuals may be forced to relinquish their previous citizenship when gaining German citizenship. However, these potential developments in citizenship law should provide greater flexibility for those who want to maintain ties with their home country while enjoying the benefits of being a German citizen.

It should be noted that dual and multiple citizenship matters also depend on the laws of the other country as well as Germany. Should the other country strictly not permit dual citizenship, there is little that can be done under German law to change this.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, we recognise the importance of these changes and are fully prepared to assist individuals in understanding how these shifts may benefit them. Our firm offers an online German citizenship by descent eligibility check, and it is a convenient and accessible way for potential applicants to determine their citizenship eligibility and explore their potential eligibility. Our dedicated German citizenship lawyers are committed to this process and ensuring clients can make well-informed decisions about their citizenship status.


Germany’s proposed bill for simplified citizenship represents a progressive step toward creating a more inclusive society and promoting integration among immigrants and expatriates. The bill aims to facilitate the naturalisation process and encourage foreign residents to become active participants in German society by reducing the residency requirement, accepting multiple citizenships, and adapting language skill requirements. These changes will enhance social cohesion and ensure that expatriates have equal opportunities, rights, and responsibilities as German citizens.

Working with German citizenship lawyers can significantly benefit individuals navigating the citizenship process in Germany. Whether it is understanding the new bill’s provisions, assessing eligibility, or managing documentation, our legal professionals are well-equipped to guide applicants through the complexities of German citizenship law. Our team is ready to keep you updated regarding the progress of the citizenship bill and inform you should any relevant details change before it is adopted into law.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our team of dedicated lawyers is committed to providing expert advice and support, ensuring a smooth and successful citizenship application process.