Overview for German Citizenship
There are various pathways to obtain German citizenship depending on your own circumstances or ability to acquire certain visas. If being granted German nationality is something you desire, it is vital you have a comprehensive knowledge of what requirements you must first meet before submitting an application.
If gaining citizenship is a long-term goal for you, being aware of the different types of ways one may acquire citizenship, as well as the most ideal ‘route’ for you as far ahead of time as possible, will be a very important component in giving you the best chances of settling in Germany in the future as a citizen.
Though the guidelines tend to be relatively consistent from individual to individual, there will be certain visas that may expedite the process if you hope to gain citizenship by naturalisation, for instance, and in addition with some pathways there will be a degree of discretion utilised by the authorities depending on your individual circumstances.
It is important to be as familiarised with the requirements as possible for both qualifying for citizenship and for the application itself, to maximise your chances of receiving a successful response when it comes to actually applying to become a German national, a status that will grant various privileges regarding freedom of movement in the EU, job opportunities unrestricted by immigration conditions, and the ability to vote in elections.
Citizenship by Naturalisation
If you have legally resided in Germany for at least 5 years, you may apply for German citizenship by naturalisation. This is a recent rule change in 2023 which reduced the amount of residence time required down from the previous total of 8 years.
The total amount of time you must live in Germany to be eligible for citizenship may be reduced from 5 years in certain circumstances. In some cases, such as having considerable academic accomplishments or if you have finished an integration course which proves your competence speaking the German language and knowledge of the country’s culture, you will only be required to have legally lived for 3 years in Germany.
Other situations where you may apply for citizenship by naturalisation include if you have been the spouse of a citizen of Germany for 48 months. In these circumstances you must only have resided in Germany for 3 years to qualify. There are special work visas available which, if you are able to obtain them, will also reduce the amount of time you need to reside in Germany to be eligible for citizenship, such an example is the EU Blue Card which has the possibility of reducing the time required to acquire a permanent resident permit down to 33 months of continuous legal residence, which will in turn reduce the time needed to obtain citizenship.
Aside from having lived in Germany for a minimum amount of time, other requirements include being permitted to stay in the country indefinitely, whether you are an EU citizen exercising their freedom of movement or you have gained a permanent residence permit, and you must not have been convicted of any criminal offences.
Additionally, you will be required to demonstrate you have sufficient financial means to support yourself and any family dependents without utilising any social welfare benefits.
The further requirements you will need to address during the application process is to prove you have sufficient knowledge of speaking and writing German at the C1 level. Holding such a qualification as a degree obtained from a German university is considered sufficient proof.
You will be required to pass a naturalisation test designed to assess your level of competence understanding the German cultural, social, and legal systems. Holding a German qualification such a degree will once again usually exempt you from needing to take the test.
Derivative naturalisation refers to the process by which the family members or dependents of those eligible for German citizenship by naturalisation may also receive citizenship to be able to continue residing with their family in Germany.
Obtaining citizenship in this manner is usually associated with spouses and children under 18 though the primary applicant must meet all existing prerequisite conditions to qualify for citizenship to enable any dependents to gain derivative naturalisation.
Right of Blood
It is possible for a child to gain citizenship by ‘right of blood’ (jus sanguinis) or ‘principle of descent’ if they have at least one parent who is a German citizen themselves. This may also be available if the child was adopted by a German national.
There is no minimum period of time the child must have resided in Germany for to be eligible for citizenship by right of blood, however if only the father has national status and isn’t married to the mother of the child, there may be extra proof required during the application process to recognise a valid paternity status.
Right of Soil
Similar to ‘right of blood’ is the ‘right of soil’ (jus soli), which entitles a child born to non-German parents to potentially qualify for citizenship if they were born in Germany themselves. The intent of this principle is to integrate those born in the country into the nation’s culture, in order to foster a sense of collective belonging and shared identity.
There may be additional eligibility criteria to meet to qualify for citizenship by right of blood, such as one parent typically already having needed to reside legally in Germany for at least 5 years while continuing to hold permanent right of residence at the time of the birth of their child.
Victim of Nazi Persecution
You may apply for German citizenship by naturalisation if you were forcibly deprived of your national status by the Nazi regime, or if you are a descendant thereof.
Germany has established a process to account for the individuals and descendants thereof who were forcibly deprived of their national status by the Nazi regime to obtain German citizenship by naturalisation. This is an initiative which seeks to address the injustices inflicted during this period which continues to have an impact today.
You may be required to present clear proof of familial connections to those affected by Nazi persecution.
Citizenship by Descent
It is possible to apply for citizenship if you had ancestors who were German, though the exact requirements for this can vary from case to case depending on such factors as if your ancestor was born in or out of wedlock, when they were actually born, and which parent was a German national.
It is important to consult professional legal support if you think you may apply under such conditions as extra challenges may be faced in understanding if you properly qualify for citizenship by descent and how to prove this status to the German immigration authorities. Such additional documentation as the birth certificate of the relevant ancestor and the familial link between yourself and them may be required.
Contact Total Law today for professional legal support from a team of immigration specialists by phone at 0333 305 9375.
EU Blue Card
You may be entitled to qualify for German citizenship by naturalisation with a reduced residency requirement if you are able to acquire an EU Blue Card.
The EU Blue Card is a work visa available for highly skilled professionals who wish to work in the EU and have received a job offer with a minimum salary of £43,800 annually. A reduced salary of £36,682.80 is permissible if you receive an employment offer for a job considered a ‘bottleneck profession’, such as within IT or healthcare.
Those seeking an expedited route to German citizenship must only reside in Germany for 33 months to acquire a permanent resident permit on an EU Blue Card. Typically you may then apply for citizenship after 5 further years.
If you require additional assistance acquiring an EU Blue Card or applying for citizenship by naturalisation if you think you may qualify for a reduced term of residency in Germany, contact Total Law today on 0333 305 9375.
Previously, the German authorities did not permit you to retain citizenship from another nation while applying for German national status.
However, a recent rule change has essentially permitted this to be possible, by making it so obtaining a German passport no longer means the citizenship of another nation must be renounced. Germans naturalising in other nations also will not have to renounce their German national status.
It also may be possible to gain dual citizenship in certain cases such as if you are an EU or Swiss citizen, if you were born to parents of different nationalities, if you belong to a vulnerable group such as being an asylum seeker, or if you are not able to give up the citizenship of your home country.
If you meet the relevant eligibility requirements to be able to qualify to apply for German citizenship, you may do so by completing the relevant form and sending it to your local citizenship authority or foreigners’ office.
You will be required to compile a portfolio of supporting documentation relevant to your application that may include, but may also not be limited to, your birth certificate, passport, residence permits, proof of financial stability (bank statements), marriage certificate, and proof of proficiency with German language.
You will be required to pay a fee of €255 per adult, or €51 per child application.
You will be required to book an appointment to assess your level of knowledge and competence with German culture, society, and the language. During this period you will also be required to take the naturalisation test, which will incur an additional €25 to take, as well as a further €25 for the certificate which must be submitted along with the rest of your supporting documents if you do not have a degree from a German university.
It may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to receive a response by post. Upon a successful response, you will be able to arrange attendance at the citizenship ceremony to be officially sworn in as a German national. In the case of a rejection, you may decide whether or not to pursue legal action to appeal this decision.
How Can Total Law Help?
The process by which one applies for German citizenship can be a difficult and arduous process with many hurdles that can present themselves along the way.
Aside from deciding by which grounds to apply for citizenship that are most relevant to your own personal circumstances, it is recommended to seek professional assistance when preparing your application to avoid as many errors as possible to ensure a successful response as quickly as possible.
Total Law is here to provide comprehensive legal support with your citizenship application and any appeals to assist you with your journey to attain German national status. Their team of experienced expert immigration specialists are ready to give your application the diligent care and inspection it requires.
Contact us today online or by phone at 0333 305 9375.
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The test you must take during the application process is undertaken to assess your level of familiarity with German culture, society, and the legal system. As such, it is important to study enough until you have a competent level of knowledge on these topics.
You will need to answer 33 questions, with only 17 needing to be correct in order to pass. You may take practice exams online to assess your own level before you take the real test.