100.000 still waiting on German citizenship as areas report 3-year waiting times

100.000 still waiting on German citizenship as areas report 3-year waiting times

While Auslӓnderbehörden (immigration authorities) are overburdened in 25 of Germany’s most populous cities, more than 100.000 citizenship applications are still awaiting approval, a report by the Welt am Sonntag has revealed.

Long waiting lists for naturalisation applications in Germany

A combination of heavy bureaucracy and overwhelmed local authorities means that 100.000 residents in Germany are waiting to be naturalised. According to the Welt am Sonntag, the newspaper that published the report, in some German cities more applications are piling up while authorities deal with a shortage of staff.

Currently, the process of getting a German passport can take up to three years, but the situation varies across the country. In Berlin, there are around 26.000 applications still pending, 10.000 of which are from 2021. In Hamburg, 18.000 applications are awaiting approval and in Munich, around 10.000 are yet to be approved. In many large municipalities, the process can still take as long as 12 to 18 months.

According to the report, which assessed the situation in Germany’s 25 most populous cities, the number of backlogged applications lies in the four-digit range in the other 22 cities.

Applicants are being denied participation

The number of people applying for German citizenship in recent years has increased. Meanwhile, changing regulations means that the application process has become more complex. All the while, Germany’s public authorities have been faced with an immobilising staff shortage.

And all this isn’t about to get any easier. With the German government on its marks to liberalise the country’s citizenship laws, easing restrictions which would entitle millions more migrants in Germany to the security of citizenship, local authorities could soon be buried even deeper in a sea of new applications.

Speaking to Welt am Sonntag, chairperson of the Federal Immigration and Integration Council, Memet Kilic, underlined that the long delays meant applicants were being denied participation rights that come with citizenship, such as voting in German federal elections. The process has become “very tiring and unmanageable”, Kilic added.

Thumb image credit: Dmitry Kalinovsky /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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