Germany is now seen by many across the world as the ideal place to live, thanks mainly to its exceptional healthcare system and low rates of unemployment.
However, Germany also has strict immigration policies that are tied up in a lot of bureaucracy, which does deter people from applying for citizenship because they do not have the time or the energy to go through the process.
But we hope that our article clears up the German citizenship process for you so you’re not deterred.
There are a couple of ways you can become a German citizen.
Unfortunately, none of them are exactly easy.
There are certain requirements and very specific circumstances that can lead to you achieving German citizenship such as citizenship by descent, citizenship by birth, and naturalization.
It’s the latter we’ll be focusing on in our article today.
What Is German Naturalization?
Naturalization is a process that allows a non-German citizen to gain citizenship.
You must live in Germany for at least 8 years before you become eligible for citizenship.
However, if you attended a German integration course, then you only need to have lived in Germany for 7 years to become eligible.
As well as the eligibility requirements, you need to meet the below criteria to become a German citizen by naturalization:
Be proficient in the German language of B1 at the minimum.
Evidence of this can be provided via a German language certificate, a certificate proving you have completed learning at a German secondary school, a letter of admission to a German upper secondary school, a certificate that proves you have finished a minimum of 4 years of German schooling with a passing grade, and evidence that you have completed higher education degrees in German.
You will also need to show that you have financial independence and are able to support yourself and your family without welfare benefits.
You will also have to pass a naturalization test, and relinquish previous citizenship. Furthermore, to become naturalized, you can’t have a criminal record.
How Do You Become A German Citizen By Naturalization?
The process of becoming a German citizen by naturalization is as follows:
- You must submit an application form.
- Take and pass the naturalization test.
- Pay an application fee.
Submitting An Application Form
You can obtain a German naturalization application form from a city council, a local immigration office, a regional district office, or a town council.
When filling out the application form you must ensure all the information is accurate to the best of your ability, and that the information aligns with information provided by the other documents that go along with your application.
Remember, the form will be in German, as becoming naturalized will involve having a great grasp of the German language.
Your application form and relevant documents will need to be submitted to the same office where you got the form.
After your application has been reviewed you will then receive confirmation whether you have been granted citizenship or not.
If you are successful and have been granted citizenship then you will need to pay €25 for a citizenship certificate.
This certificate is evidence that you have the rights of a legal resident under the Federal Republic of Germany.
Passing The Naturalization Test
Secondly, you will need to sit and pass a citizenship test which proves that you are not only proficient in the German language but also you know a lot about German culture and society.
The naturalization test has 33 questions and the minimum passing score is 50%, meaning you need to answer 17 questions correctly to pass the test. The fee for taking the test costs €25.
However, there are some people who don’t need to take the naturalization test. These are:
- People who have a disability that precludes them from being able to take a naturalization test.
- Elderly people who do not have the mental capacity to take a naturalization test.
- Children under the age of six.
- Those who have a higher education degree in law, politics, or social sciences from a German university.
The naturalization test contains questions about German law, German society, and life in Germany. There will also be at least 3 questions about where you live in Germany.
The Application Fees
Sitting a naturalization test comes with fees that you will have to pay when submitting the application.
The application for adults costs €255, while for children under the age of 16 it costs €51. The naturalization test costs €25.
Other Methods Of Obtaining Naturalization
There are a couple of alternative methods to obtaining naturalization in Germany, but we are going to focus on two. That is, naturalization by marriage and naturalization by descent.
German Naturalization By Descent
German citizenship by descent is also known as the right of blood and is an alternative way to obtain German citizenship.
This may seem surprising, but you don’t need to be born in Germany to become naturalized by descent. Rather, you need to meet the following criteria:
- Have a parent who is a German citizen.
- Be registered to the German authorities by your parents in the country you are born before the age of 1.
- If neither of your parents are German, you relinquish the citizenship of your non-German parent if you’re aged between 18-23.
If you’re a child under the age of 18 who was adopted by German parents then you have the same rights to citizenship via their ancestry.
German Naturalization By Marriage
To obtain German citizenship through marriage you still need to apply for naturalization.
However, you don’t have to meet the residency length requirements although you will need to meet other naturalization criteria such as passing a naturalization test, prove you are proficient in both speaking and writing in German, and pay the application fee.
You will also have to fulfill certain requirements as a couple, such as living together in Germany for at least three years, and be married for at least two years.
Although getting German citizenship is tricky there are a few ways you can go about it depending on your individual circumstances.
We hope this article has enlightened you, and made the citizenship and naturalization process seem a little less daunting.