What steps do you need to take to become a German citizen? Like any procedure of this kind, naturalization in Germany begins with the fulfillment of bureaucratic requirements, namely, applying with the Office of Citizenship. The prerequisites for acquiring German citizenship as well as the rules for obtaining are contained in the Citizenship Act.
General conditions for obtaining German citizenship
According to general rules, the conditions for obtaining German citizenship are as follows:
- You must have lived in Germany for at least 8 years.
- Live in Germany in your own or rented home.
- Have a permanent or temporary residence permit that complies with certain clauses of the migration law.
- Not have a criminal record, and also not support extremist organizations.
- Be financially secure to be able to support a family. Not previously declared bankrupt, and also not receive social benefits.
- Know German at least Goethe-Zertifikat B1 level.
- Take a citizenship test that includes information about German culture.
- Retire from previous citizenship.
- This is just a standard list of conditions that must be met. Each situation has its additions and nuances.
Conditions of stay in Germany
First of all, staying in Germany must be legal and without significant interruptions.
Terms that are not taken into account:
- Study time (on a student visa).
- Time spent in refugee status.
Terms are shortened:
- When taking integration courses (for 1 year).
- Proficiency in German at a level not lower than Goethe-Zertifikat B2 (for 1 year).
- Both factors reduce the required eight-year stay to 6 years.
- The husband/wife and minor children of a migrant applying for citizenship and meeting all the requirements can also become applicants for citizenship, even if their period of residence is less than 8 years.
The general rules specified in this article do not apply to the following categories of foreigners:
- Late settlers receive German passports immediately after arriving in Germany.
- Spouses of German citizens need to live in the country for 3 years and two of them are married before applying for citizenship.
German language proficiency
To prove a sufficient level of proficiency in German, you must provide a corresponding certificate. The confirmation of the Goethe Institute would be suitable. You can also present other documents confirming your German language skills at the proper level, for example, a certificate of completion of an integration course or a diploma of graduation from school in Germany.
At the same time, elderly migrants (over 60 years old), the disabled, and the sick are exempted from language checks, if there is documentary medical confirmation of the impossibility of learning the language.
The Citizenship Test is a mandatory procedure for anyone who wishes to apply for a German passport. As a rule, it provides for issues related to history, legislation, culture, social and political structure, life, and order in the FRG. The same categories of citizens who are exempted from language tests are exempted from the exam.
Renunciation of the existing citizenship
After completing and submitting all the documents, passing the necessary exams and procedures, and in case of successful consideration of the case, the foreigner receives by mail a preliminary consent for admission to citizenship. This document is a guarantee of obtaining a passport, and therefore allows you to proceed with the exit from your previous citizenship. If the first citizenship belongs to one of the EU countries, then it is not necessary to renounce it.
After completing the procedure for renouncing the old citizenship, the applicant for citizenship must surrender the old passport and present a document confirming the renunciation of citizenship. Now it will be possible to issue a passport of a citizen of the Federal Republic of Germany.
From all of the above, it follows that the process of obtaining German citizenship is a troublesome and time-consuming business. The lawyers of our law office regularly provide legal support at all stages of naturalization. One of the cases from our law practice is a vivid illustration of the fact that officials may impose additional, sometimes completely unpredictable requirements for applicants. This can lead to a significant increase in the already long time for consideration of documents.