A New Path to Dual Citizenship?

The German Parliament is set on Friday to discuss the dual citizenship law, which is officially listed on the (Bundestag) Parliament’s agenda for its second and third (final) reading before being voted upon.

Overall, the new law hopes to provide a faster route to German citizenship and overturn laws that prevented dual citizenship for non-EU passport holders. Some members of Parliament adamantly oppose this new law and have proposed an amendment to make it harder for some to gain citizenship.

Section 12 of the existing German Nationality Act was created to avoid multiple citizenships, there are exceptions, including for cases of hardship noted. In German, the language of this law discusses multiple citizenships rather than specifically dual citizenships.

The current nationality law allows for dual citizenship in the following cases:
· via the principle of decent. Here a baby is born to either a German parent and a parent with another nationality, or one or both parent(s) hold(s) dual citizenship. Then it follows, the child can also hold both citizenships at birth.

· under Section 7 of the Nationality Act, ethnic Germans and family members, who are approved for repatriation will also become German citizens. If allowed by their countries of origin, their children born in Germany then acquire at birth both German citizenship and that of their parents. · German citizens can also apply (in advance) to retain his or her German citizenship and then apply for an additional citizenship.

· For EU passport holders, who also wish to become a German citizen, he or she can maintain their original citizenship.

The bill argues that citizenship should be decided based on a variety of factors rather than simply citizenship at birth. These factors include language skills, education, work history, and social participation, among others. The new law introduces a number of reduced residency period requirements and minor changes to the established language requirements.

Proponents of the law wish to reduce the residency period requirements.

Currently, applicants must have lived continuously for a minimum of eight years before being eligible to apply. This time frame can be reduced for those, who can prove ‘exceptional’ integration. This new law would reduce this period to 5 years for standard applicants and 3 years for those who can prove ‘exceptional’ integration. It is important to note, applicants would need to prove a C1-Level of German language proficiency as a component of demonstrating their level of integration. TELC (The European Language Certificates) defines the language level C1 as a speaker who ‘can express themselves spontaneously and fluently. They are familiar with colloquial phrases and can vary the style of speech in a targeted manner.’ C1 is considered an advance level. 

Additionally, if a child is born to non-German parents, the child will be eligible for citizenship when the parents have legally resided in Germany for five years. The current requirement is 8 years.

Furthermore, the current language-level requirement will remain unchanged under the new law and applicants must prove a B1-Level (intermediate) of German language proficiency skills.

For those over 67 years old, the requirements would be lowered with the goal of naturalising a large number of the guest-worker generation. These applicants would no longer be required to pass a citizenship test.

If approved this law could go into affect as early as April 2024.

It is important to note that there are other countries that do not allow their citizens to have dual citizenship. Should the law pass, it would only impact German citizenship laws and would have no impact on the citizenship law of an applicant’s country of origin.

I will be sure to update you next week on any changes and what they might mean for us as foreigners and for your employees.

Click here for an update on the status of this vote.

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