Obtaining dual citizenship in Israel and Germany

German Citizenship Lawyers

Obtaining dual citizenship in Israel and Germany

German Citizenship Lawyers

Since the middle of last year, the reform of the citizenship law has, for the first time, opened the possibility for many Israeli citizens to become German citizens and receive a German EU passport. Thanks to these changes, Israelis who want to naturalise in Germany and Germans who apply for Israeli citizenship can now become holders of dual citizenship.

However, the experience of Schlun & Elseven’s migration team shows that many clients – despite the liberalisation of the naturalisation law – are still unaware of their newly acquired rights. The reason for this is often the erroneous assumption that the previous nationality would have to be relinquished.

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Legal situation in Germany

Avoiding multiple nationalities applies to naturalisation procedures in Germany and abroad. Accordingly, naturalisation procedures that would allow a person to hold two nationalities are to be prevented. In this way, it is to be ensured that no conflicts of jurisdiction arise between states regarding personnel sovereignty over individuals. However, the decrees and orders issued in recent years have often resulted in the possibility of acquiring German nationality while retaining the original nationality (listed by example in Section 12, paragraph 1, sentence 2 of the Nationality Act (StAG)). Due to this rule-exception system of dual citizenship, the legal situation has become quite complex. As a result, general statements on the prospects of the success of concrete naturalisation and the retention of the original nationalities can be made without further ado. However, to ensure that the application complies with all requirements regarding the form of implementation of the naturalisation application, the legal assistance of an experienced lawyer for citizenship law is indispensable when applying.

Types of naturalisation for Israeli citizens in Germany

Of course, the traditional types of naturalisation in Germany are also open to Israeli citizens. For example, Israelis who marry a German citizen can acquire German citizenship under certain conditions (Section 9 StAG). Those who can already show eight years of legal residence in the Federal Republic also can become naturalised if they fulfil further requirements (Section 10 StAG). Generally, it can be stated that in such cases, it is not uncommon for the original nationality to be renounced or that additional requirements, such as proof of German language skills, must be met.

Irrespective of this, there are also (steadily increasing) naturalisation options in German citizenship law that often apply to Israelis and are explicitly intended to enable dual citizenship. Examples are the naturalisation of restitution and the privileged treatment of Israeli citizens in the discretionary naturalisation process under Section 8 StAG.

Restoration of citizenship

The German Basic Law (Grundgesetz, GG) and, since last year, also the German Nationality Act (StAG), offer a right to restoration of citizenship for persons formerly persecuted under National Socialism.The first sentence of Article 116 (2) GG should be examined in this context. According to this, the following should apply:

Former German citizens who, between 30 January 1933 and 8 May 1945, were deprived of their citizenship on political, racial or religious grounds and their descendants shall, on application, have their citizenship restored.

Thus, those who were persecuted during the National Socialist era and who were deprived of their German citizenship by state act can still acquire their German citizenship today, as can their descendants. In such a case, it would only be necessary to prove to the competent Federal Administrative Office that these conditions are fulfilled through existing or still-to-be-found documents (such as a formal expatriation certificate). In such cases, it is not necessary to drop the original nationality.

It has been criticised in the past that Article 116 (2) sentence 1 GG excludes a large group that would have an equally large entitlement to acquire German citizenship. Indeed, the wording of Article 116 (2) GG does not cover those who have not been formally expatriated. In such a case, it is not exactly easy to prove this. Documents relating to this are often impossible to find. Section 15 StAG was created to fill this obvious gap. Section 15 StAG now expands the group of persons entitled to file an application to include those who, for the reasons stated in Article 116 (2) sentence 1 GG:

1. gave up or lost their German citizenship before 26 February 1955,

2. were excluded from lawfully acquiring German citizenship through marriage, legitimisation or the collective naturalisation of ethnic Germans,

3. were not naturalised upon application or were generally excluded from naturalisation which would otherwise have been possible upon application, or

4. gave up or lost their ordinary residence in Germany, if established before 30 January 1933 or, if they were children at the time, after that date, […].

With the help of a lawyer, these circumstances can often be proven through appropriate research, especially if additional documents can be found in regional and national archives. If the relevant evidence can be provided, the good news in these cases is naturalisation. The previous citizenship can always be retained, and dual citizenship is permitted here.

Discretionary naturalisation

In addition, there is the possibility of naturalisation in Germany according to Section 8 StAG. In this area, too, there is a privilege for Israeli nationals worth mentioning.

According to Section 8 StAG, authorities can carry out naturalisations at their discretion if the requirements of Section 8 StAG are met. The hurdles in this regard are relatively high due to the requirement of special public interest in naturalisation. Naturalisation should, in principle, lead to the loss of the original nationality. For Israeli citizens, however, there is a unique feature here. In 2020, the Federal Ministry of the Interior instructed the implementing authorities in an official communication (Official Communication of 11.02.2020 – V II 5) regarding the Federal Ministry’s provisional application instructions on the StAG (VAH-StAG) that the retention of Israeli citizenship is in principle in the public interest. Thus, Israeli citizens entitled to naturalisation under Section 8 of the StAG can obtain Israeli citizenship under facilitated conditions and are more likely to retain Israeli citizenship. It can be assumed that some foreign authorities have not heard of this particular feature of citizenship law. In this respect, it is up to the applicants, and their legal representation, to make them aware of it sustainably.

Naturalisation for German Citizens in Israel – The Retention Permit

Even for Germans who want to obtain Israeli citizenship in Israel, it is no longer impossible to retain German citizenship alongside Israeli citizenship during this process.

In principle, however, it remains the case that naturalisation in another state that is not part of the EU or Switzerland lead