New law on dual citizenship in Germany: How expats can benefit

New law on dual citizenship in Germany: How expats can benefit

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Exciting changes in the German citizenship law are on the horizon, with a new bill introducing a range of reforms recently passed by parliament. Schahroch Taleqani, a partner at RT & Partner, a law firm specialising in business immigration law, explains what changes the bill sets out to make and how it will affect expats.

In its bid to convince more highly-skilled workers from abroad to permanently join its job market, the German government has put together a bill that aims to introduce a wide range of changes to the country’s citizenship law. The so-called “Gesetz zur Modernisierung des Staatsangehörigkeitsrechts”, which was passed by the Bundestag on January 19, is expected to come into force in May 2024. 

Chief among the changes proposed by the new law is the introduction of a general possibility of dual citizenship. Other planned amendments include a significant reduction of the minimum residency in Germany required for a naturalisation, a reduction in the financial means required, and the introduction of special naturalisation ceremonies during which the citizenship certificates are to be given out.

In this article, we’ll focus on the changes being made to the way Germany tackles dual citizenship, and explain how expats can benefit. 

Dual citizenship - How it benefits expats

Under its current law on citizenship, laid down in the “Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz”, Germany has long taken a stance against dual citizenship. For most people, this meant they could only acquire a German passport when they gave up their previous citizenship. 

With the new law, however, this approach is to be given up in favour of a dual citizenship-friendly (in theory even triple or quadruple citizenship-friendly) position. This means that anyone who in future gains German citizenship would also be allowed to retain the citizenship of their birth country. 

For many expats who until now were unwilling to renounce their old citizenship, becoming a naturalised German citizen will become a much more enticing prospect. 

Can you acquire German citizenship?

Even though the new law is going to make it significantly easier for expats living here to acquire the German passport alongside their original one, this will sadly not be a possibility for everyone. 

This is because whether a dual citizenship is possible or not is always dependent on the citizenship laws of both countries involved. In other words: for you to be able to acquire dual citizenship, both the German law and the law of the country whose passport you already hold need to allow having more than one citizenship.

Which countries allow dual citizenship?

The good news is: most countries allow their citizens to have more than one nationality. This includes - among many others - lots of countries that have large immigrant populations in Germany, including Romania, Turkey, Syria, Italy, Russia, Hungary, Serbia, Greece, the United States, Kosovo, Canada, Nigeria and the United Kingdom. 

However, some countries do not let their citizens acquire a second passport besides their original one. These countries include China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, and Estonia. If you are from one of these countries, you can still acquire German citizenship, but you will have to surrender your original passport.

It is therefore advisable to contact the competent authority in your home country and ask them whether dual nationality would be permitted in your case before applying for or acquiring German citizenship.

Further advantages for expats

Besides making it easier to obtain German citizenship by naturalisation, a general acceptance of dual citizenship will also make life easier for the families of expats living in Germany. 

Currently, many children of expats have a claim to both their parents’ original citizenship and German citizenship, for instance by birth. Under the current law, if they have not been raised in Germany, those children have to choose which citizenship they want to keep when they turn 21. The new law will abolish this rule and let these children keep both citizenships, regardless of where they have been raised.

Become a naturalised citizen sooner

In addition to allowing dual citizenship in general, the new law also will also make some other important changes to the German citizenship law, especially regarding the process of naturalisation. 

First and foremost, the minimum stay in Germany required for being able to acquire a German passport is to be reduced from eight years to just five years. If you can prove special integration achievements (e.g. have particularly good school or professional achievements) have a language certificate of C1 or higher, and are able to provide for yourself and your family, naturalisation will be possible after just three years.

Changes could spell longer wait times for citizenship applications

In summary, the changes envisioned by the Government bring many opportunities, especially for expats living in Germany. However, as per usual with the German bureaucratic process, gathering all the relevant documents and applying for dual citizenship can be rather strenuous and complicated. Moreover, the number of applications is expected to increase rapidly when the law comes into force, further aggravating issues when it comes to processing times.

It is advisable to consult a lawyer to ensure that your application is complete and that you get a decision in good time. RT & Partner will be happy to assist you. Take their free test to quickly check whether you are eligible for naturalisation and - if not - what you can do to become eligible. For more advice, get in touch with RT & Partner and their team of lawyers

Schahroch Taleqani


Schahroch Taleqani

Schahroch Taleqani co-founded the law firm RT and Partner Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH where he currently serves as a managing partner. With his extensive legal knowledge and experience, he provides outstanding support...

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