Get German citizenship in 2024

Has Germany adopted a dual citizenship reform?

A real breakthrough occurred in Germany on January 19, 2024. The Bundestag finally passed amendments to the citizenship law, thereby allowing dual citizenship, which millions of immigrants living in Germany had been waiting for. Now, the German passport has become one of the fastest passports to obtain in the European Union, as it can now be obtained in 5 years, and in some cases, even in 3 years.

In this article, we have gathered all the information you need to know to obtain German citizenship based on the law adopted by the Bundestag in January 2024. Let's get into it. At the end of the article, we will answer such pressing questions as: when will the law finally come into effect, can one already apply for citizenship before the law comes into effect if one wishes to keep their old one, and what to do for those who have already received approval for German citizenship but have not yet renounced their previous citizenship?

What conditions must be met to obtain German citizenship?

An alien must fulfill the following conditions if they want to acquire German citizenship. There are ten such conditions in total. Let's go through them in order:

  1. You must legally reside in Germany for at least five years. Previously, this period was eight years, but thanks to new amendments to the citizenship law, this period has been reduced from eight to five years.
  2. You accept and support the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany and also declare that there have been no actions by you that would threaten the security of Germany or violate its democratic structure.
  3. You have a permanent residence permit in Germany, or, for example, you are a holder of a Blue Card, or you have any other type of residence permit that implies long-term or permanent residence in Germany.
  4. You have your own housing, or you have somewhere to live. For example, you have bought an apartment in Germany, or you are renting an apartment in Germany, or you have any other housing, for example, relatives give you the right to use their housing.
  5. You are able to support yourself and your family members without any social benefits.
  6. You have no criminal record.
  7. You have sufficient knowledge of the German language.
  8. You have knowledge of the social and legal system in Germany, and you also have sufficient knowledge about life in Germany. Usually, this item is fulfilled by passing the so-called Einbürgerungstest, i.e., the citizenship test.
  9. You are not married to multiple spouses.
  10. There has been no anti-Semitic or racist activity by you that contradicts the Constitution of Germany.

So, we have named ten points that need to be fulfilled to obtain German citizenship. I think you may have questions about some of the points. Let's delve into more details.

How is the period of stay in Germany accounted for?

The law states that you must legally reside in Germany for all 5 years. What should you do if, for example, you left Germany? Let's say you were on a business trip to Dubai for 3 months. In this case, the law states that you can leave Germany for up to 6 months, and this period will still be counted as residence in Germany.

If you, for example, left the territory for an extended period and your residence permit was expiring, for instance, you left Germany for 2 years and then returned, the previous period that you lived in Germany will be fully credited to you.

For those who studied in Germany, special conditions apply: education is only counted as half. For example, if you studied in Germany for 4 years, then for citizenship, only 2 years will be credited. The same conditions apply to those who came here as refugees: the time you spent in Germany from the application for asylum until the decision on your case will be fully credited.

What is the citizenship test Einbürgerungstest?

We previously mentioned that you need to pass the Einbürgerungstest, that is, the citizenship test. This is a special test that proves your knowledge of the social and legal structure of life in Germany. This test consists of 30 general questions and 3 questions specific to the state in which you reside, making a total of 33 questions. They are selected from a list of 310 questions. In reality, the questions are not difficult, and in principle, anyone who has lived in Germany for 5 years can answer them. Of course, we recommend downloading, for example, an application, practicing, and trying to pass this test in advance. You need to correctly answer 17 out of 33 questions. Thus, the conditions are quite simple.

What knowledge of the German language is required to obtain German citizenship?

How can you prove that you have sufficient knowledge of the German language? For this, you need to present a certificate of German language proficiency at least at level B1 or any other certificate that matches this level. Such a test or certificate can be obtained at any accredited language school, for example, at the Goethe-Institut.

In some cases, you do not need to bring a B1 certificate. These are the cases when you were educated in Germany, namely:

  • This can be either education at a German school for at least 4 years.
  • Or you received vocational education in Germany, for example, Ausbildung.
  • Or you have completed higher education in Germany.

How to obtain German citizenship in 3 years?

One of the most interesting changes we have made together with the amendments to the new citizenship law is the accelerated procedure for obtaining a German passport. Previously, under the most favorable conditions, a German passport could be obtained in 6 years. Now, this period has been reduced to just 3 years. In fact, obtaining a passport through the accelerated procedure will be quite difficult. There are just two additional conditions, and they are quite strict.

The first condition is that you need to demonstrate a special level of integration into German society. What does this mean? It means that you have good achievements in work or study, or you have active participation. What this specifically means is not written in the law. It will be considered by an official who will be reviewing your case.

The second condition is excellent knowledge of the German language, meaning at the C1 level.

Can you apply for German citizenship as a whole family?

If you wish to apply for German citizenship for your entire family, but your spouse or your children have lived in Germany for less than 5 years, the law states that they too can qualify for German citizenship. Therefore, it is worth applying as a whole family, and the decision on whether your children or your spouse will receive German citizenship will be made by an official who will review your case.

Is dual citizenship allowed in Germany?

Previously, the German citizenship law contained a clause stating that one could only obtain German citizenship by renouncing their previous citizenship. Now, this clause has been completely removed from the law. This means that the path to dual citizenship is now open. In other words, you can retain your previous citizenship. Even if you had, for example, two citizenships, you can keep all three. This means you can now have German citizenship along with an unlimited number of other passports.

Can you acquire German citizenship by birth?

Positive changes due to amendments to the law also await future parents and their children. Now, if at least one parent has lived legally in Germany for 5 years and has permanent residency, then their child is entitled to acquire German citizenship by birth. Previously, such parents were required to have lived for eight years, but now this period has been reduced to 5 years.

Are there special conditions for spouses of German citizens?

Special conditions apply for spouses of German citizens. You only need to have lived in Germany for 3 years, of which at least 2 years you must have been married, and then you will receive a German passport. All other conditions apply to you just as they do to other foreigners.

How much does it cost to obtain German citizenship?

Obtaining a German passport is quite expensive. Each adult applicant must pay 255 euros, and for each child, the fee is 51 euros. For instance, if a family of four applies, they will need to pay more than 600 euros, and this does not include the cost of obtaining passports. Surely, after acquiring German citizenship, you would want to get a regular passport and an international passport.

How long does it take to process a German passport application?

Before the law came into effect, the processing times for applications in Munich, for example, ranged from 8 to 12 months. Imagine, after the law took effect, hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of foreigners living in Germany, who previously did not want to obtain German citizenship due to not wanting to give up their previous passport, now have this opportunity thanks to the introduction of dual citizenship. Can you imagine how many applications will now be submitted to German officials?

They were already struggling with the high volume of applications, and now thousands of people will be submitting new applications, so processing times will undoubtedly increase. My forecast is about 2 years, possibly even more, to wait for the review or response to your application.

If you submitted an application without a lawyer, you can speed up this process by consulting a lawyer. The lawyer will help you properly prepare all documents and will correspond with the department, and also get you an appointment. We provide this service.

When will the law come into effect?

Many ask us when the amendments to the citizenship law will finally come into effect. Let's see. On January 19, 2024, the Bundestag passed these amendments. What happens next? First, the Bundesrat must approve the law. It's a mere formality. Then, the President of Germany must sign it, after which the signed law is published in a special newspaper on a special website, and 3 months must pass from the publication of the amendments for the law to come into effect. Thus, we expect that no earlier than May, more likely June, or even later, the law will come into effect.

Should you apply for citizenship now?

The second most popular question we are currently being asked is whether one can now go and apply for German citizenship with the possibility of keeping their previous passport until the law comes into effect. Yes, you can. Let's consider this. The reason is that when a case reaches an official, they make a decision based on the current legislation. As you may recall from our previous answer, the duration of application review ranges from 8 to 12 months, meaning, for example, it might take 6 months for an official to make a decision on your case. By that time, this law is most likely to have come into effect, therefore, by applying now, you can avoid long queues, and by the time a decision is made on your case, the new law will already be in effect.

What to do for those who are already in the process of obtaining citizenship?

What should people do who have already received Einbürgerungszusicherung, meaning the German state has already said "yes, we are ready to accept you into German citizenship," but for this, you need to surrender your previous passport. I would recommend that you check the validity date of this document, and if you have enough time, I would advise you to wait for the new law to come into effect, not renounce your previous citizenship before this, and then approach the officials to request a review of your case based on the changed legislation.


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