Germany will allow dual citizenship – Acquiring German citizenship will become easier

On May 19, 2023, The German Department of the Interior (Bundesinnenministerium – BMI) published a proposal for a reform of the nationality law (Citizenship Act – Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz – StAG). If passed in parliament, the new law will significantly change the rules on naturalization in Germany. It will make the acquisition of German citizenship much easier and faster. For the first time, Germany will generally allow dual citizenship.

keine beibehaltungsgenehmigung mehr erforderlich, um die amerikanische Staatsangehörigkeit, oder eine andere,  anzunehmen.

According to some surveys some 400.000 additional professionals are needed per year to maintain Germany’s industrial output. In light of this severe shortage of skilled labor and professional talent, the German government has taken a array of measures to bring qualified foreigners into the country. Just recently, a new immigration law (“the Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz”), which is, in part, based on Canadian immigration law as a model, was introduced, to create incentives for employment-based immigration. The changes to the nationality law that are being proposed now are one further step to attract qualified immigrants. They also to give immigrants a realistic perspective for a long-term future in Germany – which will include the prospect to become a German citizen.

The most important changes are:

Germany will allow dual citizenship

Under the current law, foreigners who apply for German citizenship (except those from other European Union countries or Switzerland) must relinquish their original citizenship before German citizenship is given to them. There are some exceptions to this rule. Most notably, in cases where the loss of the foreign citizenship would create a financial or economic hardship, the German government will allow applicants to retain their other citizenship. In fact, more than of half of the applicants are being granted an exception under theses rules, according to recent numbers from the Federal Bureau of Statistics. However, getting the authorities to accept a claim of “financial hardship” or other exceptional circumstances can be a challenging and lengthy process.

Under the new proposed rules, the general principle to avoid dual citizenship will be done away with. Given that this principle had long been a pillar of German nationality law, (under the current nationality law, even Germans who acquire a foreign citizenship will have their German citizenship revoked), this change of course can be called something just short of a small revolution.

Lawmakers seem to finally have come to believe that aspects such as language skills, education, the ability to support oneself from one’s own resources, participation in society, and the support of the democratic constitutional order are more important than whether a person has one or more nationalities.

Shorter wait times – Five years of residency sufficient

A reduction in the required period of residence in Germany is also planned. Accordingto the the draft law, it will be possible to acquire citizenship after only five years instead of the current eight years. In certain cases, especially where applicants can show “special integration achievements” the wait time for citizenship will be further reduced to only three years. Examples of “special integration achievements” are outstanding educational, professional or vocational accomplishments, or volunteer work for community projects, and particularly good language skills (language test of level C1).

The reduction of the required period of residency in Germany will also apply to children born in Germany to foreign parents. As of now, these children will acquire German citizenship at birth if one parent has been physically present in Germany for eight years prior to the child’s birth. In the future, this period will be reduced to five years as well.

Lower requirements for the acquisition of the German language

The requirements for German language proficiency are to be relaxed for certain groups. The proposed new rules include easier proof of language proficiency and the abolition of the obligation to take a naturalization test for those who are 67 years old or older. For younger naturalization applicants, there will be a hardship clause that will make it possible to waive the language test. In exceptional cases – for example, due to the need for care of a family member – it will be sufficient to be able to communicate orally in German in everyday life without significant problems. Generally, a German language skill level of “B-1” will still be required.

Criminal offenses will not allow dual citizenship

While certain severe criminal offenses, but not petty offenses will prevent applicants from obtaining German citizenship, the new rules will put an emphasis on anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobic and other acts that are considered incompatible with the guarantee of human dignity in the of the German Constitution. Such offenses will per se exclude the acquisition of German citizenship in the future.


For many foreigners living in Germany, the potential loss of their original citizenship has been a major deterrent from applying for German citizenship. The prospect of having this obstacle removed, combined with significantly shorter wait times to apply for naturalization will make applications for German citizenship much more attractive.

It remains to be seen if and when the new rules will take effect. At the current stage of the legislation process (as of July 1, 2023), the draft law that was introduced by BMI is being discussed among the members of the Federal government (the “Bundeskabinett”). It is expected to be sent to parliament for debate after the summer break and will likely be enacted in the Fall of 2023. Germany will generally allow dual citizenship.

If you would like to apply for German citizenship in Berlin or any other location in Germany, and you would like legal guidance and assistance to accompany you in this bureaucratic and often lengthy process, BÜDDING LEGAL is here to help.

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