How to Get German Citizenship

German Citizenship Lawyers

How to Get German Citizenship

German Citizenship Lawyers

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, we understand the importance of obtaining German citizenship and its benefits. Whether you want to live, work, or study in Germany, becoming a German citizen can offer you security, stability, and access to many opportunities.

However, obtaining German citizenship can be complex and time-consuming, with strict requirements that applicants must meet. We have previously outlined the significant benefits of gaining German citizenship, and it should be considered by anyone eligible. Regardless of the means you use to get German citizenship, our dedicated team can support you in your case.

This article will provide an overview of the German citizenship process and the key factors to consider when applying for citizenship. If you require our expert support, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.

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Our Services

  • Application assistance

  • Citizenship eligibility assessment

  • Citizenship test preparation

  • Citizenship appeals and litigation

  • Dual citizenship advice

German Citizenship by Birth

The principles around German citizenship by birth can be seen under § 4(1) StAG. This provision states that:

A child acquires German citizenship by birth if one parent possesses German citizenship. Where at the time of the birth only the father is a German national, and where for proof of descent under German law recognition or determination of paternity is necessary, acquisition is dependent on recognition or determination of paternity with legal effect under German law; the declaration of recognition must be submitted or the procedure for determination must have commenced before the child reaches the age of 23.

However, there is an exception to this rule for children born abroad and whose German parent was born abroad after 31.12.1999 and had their regular residence abroad (§ 4(4) StAG). The exception to this rule is that the child would otherwise be born stateless if they were not permitted to have German citizenship.

If a German changes their regular residence abroad and has a child after 01.01.2000, this child acquires German citizenship. However, if they have descendants, this rule only applies to their children within a one-year period, so the decision must be made early if they want their child to acquire said German citizenship.

Your parents do not need to be born in Germany for you to acquire German citizenship by birth. You can qualify for this type of Jus Soli citizenship under the following conditions:

  • If at least one of your parents has lived in Germany for at least 8 years before the birth of the child
  • If at the time the child is born, one of the parents has a permanent residence permit.

When getting this type of citizenship, it is vital to consider that the child may have to choose the parents’ citizenship or the citizenship of Germany when they are between the ages of 18 and 23 years old. Applying for dual citizenship in Germany is complex and depends on many factors. Many countries do not permit dual citizenship and will force you to give up citizenship of that country when acquiring German citizenship. At the same time, others do not allow you to give up citizenship. Our legal team advises on all matters relating to dual citizenship and can be reached through our contact details below.

However, under a recent law from December 2014, this type of German citizen (to foreign parents) who has grown up in Germany or whose foreign citizenship is that of an EU member state or Switzerland may keep both their German and their other citizenship. Once again, the other state’s rules may interfere with acquiring dual citizenship and getting professional legal advice is recommendable.

How to get German Citizenship by Residency

German citizenship by residency can be gained by non-Germans who have lived and worked in Germany for several years. It is provided for per § 10 StAG, which outlines the following conditions:

A person can apply if:

  • Has an unlimited right of residence in Germany,
  • Has been lawfully and habitually resident in the country for eight years,
  • Can earn a living for himself and his family without recourse to social assistance or unemployment benefit,
  • Has sufficient knowledge of German: language level B1 is required for adults. For those under 16 years of age, language development appropriate to their age,
  • Has not been convicted of any criminal offence,
  • Renounces or loses their previous citizenship,
  • Is committed to the German Constitution and does not support any anti-constitutional efforts or credibly distance themselves from previous support,
  • Has passed the naturalization test on the German legal and social order.

Some countries have rules which prevent their citizens from giving up their previous citizenship. In this case, the German authorities have some discretion concerning the rule regarding renouncing previous citizenship.

Once the applicant has these factors in their favour and wants to get German citizenship by residency, they must apply for it by correctly filling out the necessary paperwork. Should you experience any difficulties or require further advice, assistance or support in this application, please do not hesitate to contact our lawyers directly.

Our page on “German Citizenship by Residency” provides further insight into the legal requirements, exceptions, and other aspects of German law on citizenship residency.

How to get German Citizenship through Marriage

Marriage to a German citizen does not automatically grant a person German citizenship, but it can be a pathway to obtaining it. Spouses of German citizens are eligible for German citizenship after three years of legal residence in Germany.

To apply for this fast-track version of German citizenship by residency, the spouse must have been married or in a registered partnership for at least two years at the time of application. The marriage must be legally recognised.

It should be noted that the above-listed requirements for naturalisation still apply in this case. This requirement means that the test may need to be passed; however, there are exceptions for those with a degree in law, politics or social sciences from a German university. There is also the necessity to speak basic German, not have a criminal record and must not threaten Germany’s security or public order.

It may also be required to renounce your previous citizenship, especially if you are not from an EU country, Switzerland, or certain other countries with which Germany has dual citizenship agreements. There are discussions around changing dual citizenship rules, but professional legal advice is strongly advised.

Once you meet these requirements, you can apply for German citizenship through marriage by applying to the local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde). The application will include documentation such as your marriage certificate, proof of your residence in Germany, and evidence of your ability to speak German. The process can take several months, and you may be required to attend an interview or take a citizenship test.