The Changes To German Citizenship Law - 2023 - General Immigration - Germany (2023)

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Germany's new citizenship bill seeks to transformthe process of obtaining citizenship by allowing fordual and multiple citizenships and aims toshorten the required minimum stay in Germanybefore a resident can apply for German citizenship.

Although Germany has been a prevalent country for inwardmigration, it has had relatively fewernaturalisations compared to other European Union MemberStates. Germany has traditionally been opposed to recognising dualcitizenship. However, it has been allowed for EU citizens and insome other limited circumstances, but this bill seeks to addressthe issue.

Allowing migrants residing in Germany a more streamlined processto gaining citizenship should encourage them to participatemore in political decision-making and contribute more toGermany's development. Considering Germany's popularity asa location for inward migration, such action could lead to Germanybetter reflecting its current populationtrends.

However, it should be noted that this bill still needs to befinalised and put in place. Therefore, staying updated on currentevents is advisable; professional legal counsel cannot beunderestimated. The citizenship lawyers at Schlun &Elseven Rechtsanwälte are available to advise clientsin all matters relating to the new bill and German citizenship moregenerally. They can be relied upon to answer your questions andconcerns on German citizenship law issues.

Reducing the Minimum Residency Requirement

Firstly, the new bill proposes to reduce the minimum residencyrequirement from eight to five years for thoseseeking German citizenship. The eight years prerequisite has beenidentified as a reason for the lack of naturalisation applications.Such a change has been introduced with the hope that it will fostera stronger sense of belonging and integration in Germansociety.

In some exceptional circumstances, Germancitizenship by naturalisation will be permitted after threeyears to double down on this aim. These exceptionalcircumstances involve cases of extraordinary educational orprofessional achievements, notable social contributions, orexceptional language skills. How these will be determined inpractice will be based on a case-by-case basis.

Recognising Dual and Multiple Citizenships

The second significant change will be its acceptance ofmultiple citizenships. As stated earlier, Germany has beentraditionally opposed to recognising dual and multiplecitizenships. The CDU government led by Angela Merkel allowed fordual citizenship in limited circumstances, and the party stillexpresses some concerns about the proposed changes to Germancitizenship. However, the lack of allowance for dual and multiplecitizenships has been seen as a significant factor preventingpeople from seeking German citizenship.

Under the new bill, dual citizenship is permitted under Germanlaw. However, dual and multiple citizenship is a complexmater. Some countries do not allow their citizens torenounce their citizenship, whereas others force them to give upcitizenship if they seek another country's citizenship. Suchcomplicated factors need to be considered before taking anyparticular action. For this reason, consulting with legalprofessionals who are knowledgeable in this field is stronglyrecommended.

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Language Requirements, the "Gastarbeiter" Generationand Other Changes

The allowance for dual citizenship for third countries will be asignificant benefit for the"Gastarbeiter" generation whocame from countries such as Turkey, Morocco, and Tunisia primarilybetween the years of 1955 and 1973. This generation played acrucial role in rebuilding Germany, and they helped to establishthe country as the economic powerhouse it has become. Many of themintended to return to their home countries but ended up staying inGermany, and they stayed connected to their homeland by maintainingtheir previous citizenship.

Many of them are now over the age of 65 and maystill have a lower level of German due to the inaccessibility oflanguage and integration courses at the time. This reality isreflected in the proposed bill's willingness to lower thelanguage test requirement for them to conversational B1level as opposed to the C1 proficiency requirement that isgenerally required.

The bill also recognises the particular circumstance ofchildren of foreign-born residents in Germany.Under the current legislation, these children are granted Germancitizenship if their parents have resided in Germany for at leasteight years. However, the proposed reform shortens this requirementto five years. Consequently, these children will automatically begranted German citizenship, allowing them to embrace their Germanheritage while retaining their parents' citizenship.

Restrictions on Citizenship Based on Criminal Convictions

One of the points brought up by those opposed to the bill hasbeen that it may make German citizenship too accessible. However,it should be noted that there are restrictions inplace around those with criminal convictionsregarding acts of anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, and otheractions against humanity. Concerning those with criminalconvictions for different reasons, they should consult withspecialist lawyers who can advise them on their particularcircumstances.

One of the aims of the legislation is to ensure thatGermany's commitment to the principles of equality,human rights and a free democratic basicorder are kept in place. Although it is a more modernapproach to citizenship law, it won't be a"free-for-all" for those applying for citizenship. Theystill need to satisfy the demands and rules of the Germanauthorities.

The Reasons for Changing German Citizenship Laws

Some parties within Germany have seen the lack ofnaturalisations as detrimental to the state. Germany is now acountry of inward migration, and its political processes andparticipation should reflect this reality. From a socialperspective, it allows the country to reduce the possibility oflong-term residents feeling left out of the political process. Theproposed bill will allow more individuals already living in Germanyto become citizens and therefore contribute to the democraticfabric of the nation by voting in elections and even running forpolitical office.

However, there are economic and social reasons for the proposedchanges. The streamlining of citizenship should make Germany moreenticing for skilled workers from outside the European Union.Germany is currently facing issues relating to digitalisation andworker shortages in crucial sectors. With such dramatictechnological changes in recent years, the citizenship bill isintended to future-proof Germany. The opportunity to gain Germancitizenship in five years (and, in some cases, three years) and theallowance of dual citizenship may be enough to encourage highlyskilled professionals to choose Germany over competingcountries.


The changes proposed in the German Citizenship Bill of 2023signify a pivotal moment in Germany's approach to immigrationand citizenship. By simplifying the process, shortening residencyrequirements, accepting dual citizenship, and considering the needsof various immigrant groups, Germany embraces its diversepopulation and fosters a sense of belonging for all. Thislegislation embodies Germany's commitment to building avibrant, inclusive society that values equal participation andoffers unparalleled opportunities to those who choose to makeGermany their home.

It is essential to note that the proposed bill still requiresfinalisation and implementation. Staying informed about the latestdevelopments is crucial, and seeking professional legal counsel ishighly recommended. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, ourexperienced team of citizenship lawyers specialises in navigatingthe complexities of German citizenship law. We are dedicated toproviding comprehensive guidance and personalised support toindividuals seeking German citizenship under the new bill andbeyond. With our expertise, you can confidently navigate the legallandscape and embark on a successful journey toward Germancitizenship.

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The content of this article is intended to provide a generalguide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be soughtabout your specific circumstances.

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What is the dual citizenship law in Germany 2023? ›

Germany's new citizenship bill seeks to transform the process of obtaining citizenship by allowing for dual and multiple citizenships and aims to shorten the required minimum stay in Germany before a resident can apply for German citizenship.

What is the new law for refugees in Germany 2023? ›

On January 1, 2023, the new “Opportunity Residence Act” came into force. Tolerated persons who have been living in Germany for more than five years are given the chance of a permanent right of residence by the law. However, only a fraction of those tolerated will ultimately benefit from the new regulation.

How do I pass the German citizenship test? ›

The test consists of 33 questions including three questions which apply only to the German state where the applicant lives. Applicants must choose the correct answer from four possible responses. To pass, applicants must answer 17 questions correctly. In recent years, more than 90% of applicants have passed the test.

Do I have to give up my American citizenship to become German? ›

They must present a German passport to enter Germany and a US passport to enter the US. If an American citizen applies for naturalization in Germany, the American will have to give up their US citizenship to obtain the German one.

Is Germany going to allow dual citizenship? ›

The authorities in Germany are considering passing a new nationality law that will make it easier for foreign nationals to gain German citizenship. The proposed changes are part of a wider shake-up of the immigration rules aimed at tackling ongoing labour shortages within the country.

Can a US citizen get dual citizenship in Germany? ›

A child born in Germany to two American parents may also become a dual national at birth under the circumstances described in paragraph 4 in the section above entitled, "Basics about German Citizenship Law". Under German law, he/she would have to choose between American and German citizenship before turning 23.

What are the new changes in Germany 2023? ›

Income tax rate adjusted

As of 2023, the top tax rate of 42 percent will be applied to annual incomes of 62,810 euros (2022: 58,597 euros). The basic tax-free allowance is being increased from 10,347 euros (2022) to 10,908 euros (2023). Only the income earned above this amount must be taxed.

How long do you need to live in Germany to become a citizen? ›

To be eligible for naturalization, a person has to have lived legally in Germany for at least eight years and possess the appropriate residence permit. Foreigners who have successfully completed an integration course are eligible for naturalization after seven years.

Are immigrants welcome in Germany? ›

Due to the Recognition Act (Anerkennungsgesetz), which came into force in 2012, immigrants and anyone thinking of immigrating can have their foreign qualifications recognised in Germany. This is a necessary step for non-EU immigrants who do not have a university degree and wish to take up employment in Germany.

Is German citizenship hard to get? ›

Austria, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States are five nations that make it especially difficult for foreigners to establish permanent residency or obtain citizenship.

Is it worth it to get German citizenship? ›

Benefits of German Citizenship

You can live, work, or study in any EU country without having to apply for a residence permit. You can travel visa-free to 190 world countries. You can vote and become involved in German politics.

How do I prove German citizenship by descent? ›

To apply for reclaiming your German citizenship by descent, you must: Submit your birth certificate and/or your ancestors' birth certificates. You must prove the link between yourself and your ancestors. Submit any other documents that prove your eligibility for German citizenship, such as old German passports.

How many Americans have German citizenship? ›

Approximately 45 million people in the United States claim German ancestry.

Is a child born in Germany automatically a citizen? ›

Yes. A child born in Germany (on or after 1 January 2000) can acquire German nationality, even if neither of the parents is German. The only precondition is that one of the parents has been legally and habitually resident in Germany for eight years and has a permanent right of residence.

Can I travel with 2 passports? ›

Can I have a second U.S. Passport? A little-known fact is that Americans are eligible to hold two U.S. passports at the same time, which can be particularly helpful for travelers who frequently travel to places that require visas. "As I work on trying to visit every country, I have to apply for a lot of visas.

When did Germany stop dual citizenship? ›

The German citizenship law underwent a paradigmatic amendment in 2000. One often overlooked change of this reform was the abolishment of the domestic clause (“Inlandsklausel”) that implied a substantial restriction to de facto dual citizenship acceptance.

Does the US allow dual citizenship? ›

Does the United States allow dual citizenship? Yes, the U.S. allows dual citizenship by default. The government does not require naturalized U.S. citizens to give up their citizenship in their country of origin.

Does Germany allow 3 citizenships? ›

As a rule, no. One aim of German nationality law is to avoid creating multiple nationality through naturalization as far as possible. However, there are exceptions for cases of special hardship.

Can you live in Germany with a US passport? ›

A residence visa is required if you intend to stay in Germany for more than 90 days for work or study or if you intend to move to Germany permanently.

What is the difference between dual citizenship and second citizenship? ›

The main difference between dual and second citizenship is the presence or absence of a special agreement between countries. It also defines the rights and obligations of the holder of two passports.

Which country doesn t allow dual citizenship? ›

Today, most advanced economies allow dual citizenship; notable exceptions which restrict or forbid it are Austria, Japan, the Netherlands, and Singapore.

What is the new bonus in Germany 2023? ›

The German government allows employers to grant an inflation bonus of up to 3.000€ over the year 2023 – 2024 to employees.

What is the benefit in Germany 2023? ›

In 2023, people who are earning in Germany will be able to make more without having to pay tax. The basic tax-free allowance (Grundfreibetrag) will rise to 10.908 euros for the tax year of 2023. Anyone who earns less than this will not pay any income tax. For married couples filing jointly the limit is 20.694 euros.

What is the new law for duldung in Germany 2023? ›

Important: Since January 2023, you need to meet the following requirements: You are between 14 and 27 years old. You have been in Germany continuously for at least 3 years. You have a “Duldung” according to §60a Residence Act, a residence permit or a temporary stay permit (“Aufenthaltsgestattung”).

Can you be born in Germany and still be a US citizen? ›

Dual Citizenship for US Citizens Born in Germany

If you are born in Germany to US parents, you can retain both citizenships. However, you have to choose between one citizenship before you turn 23. Please note that this requirement also applies to you if you were born in a US military base in Germany.

What age is a German to retire? ›

65 years and 7 months is the standard age at which someone in Germany can retire, but some schemes allow people retiring here to take out less money on their pensions in exchange for retiring early. The standard age is slightly about the OECD and EU averages of 64.

How many generations back can you claim German citizenship? ›

All three generations that came before you could be German citizens, as would you. Citizenship by descent helps one reclaim citizenship that's rightfully theirs but, due to various circumstances, has been lost throughout the years.

Are Americans welcome in Germany? ›

Entry to Germany is permitted for all travel purposes (including tourism and visits). It is no longer necessary to present proof of vaccination, proof of recovery or a negative test result for entry to Germany.

Does Germany accept American immigrants? ›

Do I Need a Visa to Move to Germany From The US? As a US citizen, you do not need a long-stay visa to enter Germany. But, if you plan to stay longer than three months, you must apply for a residence permit in the first few days of your arrival.

Which German city has the most immigrants? ›

The German city which has most immigrants is Frankfurt.

It is continental Europe's largest financial center and has a population of approximately 2.5 million in the city and surrounding urban area. The city is in great demand of software developers, programmers, architects, IT consultants, nurses, teachers, etc.

What is the 10 year rule for German citizenship? ›

The German Citizenship Act in the version of 1871-1914 stipulated that a German automatically lost his/her citizenship by residing outside of Germany for more than 10 years.

How much does German dual citizenship cost? ›

How much does German citizenship cost? An application for German citizenship by naturalisation costs 255 euros. If you are also submitting an application for dependent children, the fee is 51 euros for each child under 16.

Can I have 3 citizenships in Germany? ›

German citizenship law is based on the principle of avoiding multiple citizenships. As a consquence anyone applying for German citizenship will generally be required to give up their other citizenship(s) and German citizens who apply for a foreign citizenship will automatically lose their German citizenship.

How long can I stay outside Germany with German citizenship? ›

Overstaying the six-month limit period with regard to stays abroad. As a rule, a residence title expires if its holder remains abroad for more than six months without interruption (section 51 subsection (1) No.

Will I lose my U.S. citizenship if I become a citizen of another country? ›

A U.S. citizen may naturalize in a foreign state without any risk to his or her U.S. citizenship. However, persons who acquire a foreign nationality after age 18 by applying for it may relinquish their U.S. nationality if they wish to do so.

Does Germany still determine citizenship by bloodline? ›

German citizenship is mainly acquired and passed on through descent from a German parent. The parent has to be German citizen at the time of the birth of the child. Children who are born to former German citizens do not acquire German citizenship.

What are the benefits of dual citizenship in Germany? ›

The Advantages of Dual Citizenship

The German passport will make international travel much easier if your profession entails many stays abroad. You can travel to over 170 countries without a visa and use German consular services worldwide.

Can a German citizen work in USA? ›

If you want to work in the U.S. temporarily as a nonimmigrant, under U.S. immigration law, you need a specific visa based on the type of work you will be doing.

What country does the US not allow dual citizenship? ›

Yes, some countries don't allow dual citizenship with America. Among them are China, United Arab Emirates, India, Austria, Japan, and some others. If you want to obtain citizenship of these countries, you need to renounce your American passport.

Do dual citizens have to pay taxes in both countries? ›

Being a dual citizen means that a person is considered a citizen/national of two countries at the same time, and is subject to both country's tax laws. Something to remember is that each country has its own laws dictating who qualifies as a citizen.

How many passports can you have as a US citizen? ›

There are multiple ways Americans can qualify for a second citizenship, including via marriage, birth, or citizenship by investment, a concept known as Golden Visa. In addition to having two passports from different countries, Americans can also simultaneously hold two U.S. passports.


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