One of the best alternatives for migrants to remain in the EU forever is to get their hands on EU citizenship. Maybe you can qualify for German Citizenship, and you don’t even know.
With that said, we try to summarize and simplify the whole process of getting German Citizenship to the best we can. Whatever sounded like a huge mess when you enter the German Foreign Office website, here will be simplified. And this info is valid only for German Citizenship and not for other EU citizenship, ok? Keep in mind that, regardless of being part of the EU, each country has its own laws and processes.
Why German Citizenship?
Because, besides being ranked the best and most valuable Citizenship to have, you will be able to work and live in any country inside the EU, travel visa-free to most countries in the world and have access to some of the best work laws and high standards of living in the globe.
Becoming a German is not an easy task, but it is definitely worth the trouble.
The first thing about German Citizenship
First and foremost, before you start with the process or even before you get your hopes high, know that becoming a German will probably mean giving up your current Citizenship. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but in most cases, you need to give up being whatever you are to apply to German Citizenship. But by doing this, you’ll gain rights that before you had not. You need to find out what works and what it doesn’t for you before anything.
And if you’re not ready to give up your Citizenship, you can always apply for a permanent residency instead.
If you just want permanent residency
It may sound a bit too harsh to say farewell to your country. For some, that means giving up too much of their identity. And it is understandable.
For those who are not ready and those who will never be prepared, a permanent residency can guarantee you a long-term stay in Germany. You won’t have the same rights as someone with German Citizenship like voting rights, but you’ll be legally allowed to live and work here.
The general requirements for these permits are that you have adequate German skills, that you have health insurance, have no criminal record, and of course, that you can support yourself financially without the help of the state.
READ MORE: How to learn German for free?
You can apply for a permit after living in Germany for longer than five years. Goes without saying that those five years are legally living here, ok? And working, paying your taxes, and not getting yourself in any sort of trouble with the law. Examples of how you can achieve that are, for instance, work permits.
There is also another alternative for you, the settlement permit.
Like everything in life, there are pros and cons. With the settlement permit, you can’t move around inside the European Union in the same way, but you can, sometimes, get it in way less than five years.
For the settlement permit, you can apply after graduating from a German University, for example. If you have a Blue card and earn around €50,000 brutto per year (€38,688 depending on the profession), you can apply for this permit after 33 months working here. If you have the B1 certificate in the German language, that time drops to only 21 months.
And for the freelancers out there, proving that you have a successful and well-established business, you can get it within three years. If you’re an immigrant and a scientist, researcher, or any other “highly qualified” title, Germany will grant you a permanent residence immediately. Stay in school, kids!
If you want the German Citizenship
For those ok with giving up their own Citizenship, there are some pre-requirements. (Of course!)
To become a naturalized German citizen, you need to have at least eight years living and working here under a limited residency. By that, I mean either any of the ones previously mentioned. Or by marrying a German or EU citizen, for example. You can drop this to only six years if you’re brave enough and complete the Language Integration course. The Language Integration course can be found relatively cheap on your local VHS (Volkshochschule).
If you don’t want to go through the intensive integration course because it is too many hours and too much German, I have bad news. You don’t necessarily need to do the Integration course, but you must speak German for the process of getting German Citizenship.
“The ability to speak German is an absolute necessity. Being able to communicate in German is essential for social and economic integration” writes the Interior Ministry.
Ok, so how good my German have to be?
We found this quote when we were researching to make this blogpost, and I believe that sums up perfectly.
“Sufficient command is defined as being able to cope in German with daily life in Germany, including dealing with the authorities and being able to conduct conversations commensurate with one’s age and education. As a rule, this includes being able to read, understand, and orally reproduce a German text on a general topic.”
Basically, your German needs to be good enough for you to be able to live your life without having to ask, “Kannst Du auf Englisch mit mir reden?”
The rest of the process
On top of having at least the B1 of the German language, it is vital to prove you can support yourself financially, and you have no criminal records. From what we found out, those three are the pillars of your success in getting the German Citizenship.
About giving up your nationality, there are exceptions to this rule. EU citizens can keep their current Citizenship if their country allows it.
Prepare yourself also for a naturalization test. This test consists of 33 questions in B1 level German about the country’s laws, people, culture, and history. To pass, you must have at least 51% right answers. So 17 out of the 33.
The whole process will cost you about €255.
What if I’m married or if I have kids?
In case you’re married to a German person (straight or in a same-sex relationship), this will make your life easier. But this is only valid for people married to a German person; other EU citizens can’t have those rights.
You must live in Germany legally for only three years and have been married a German citizen for at least two of those years at the time of your application.
The rest of the requirements remains the same: No criminal records, excellent german skills, financially stable, etc.
For kids born to at least one German parent, even outside of Germany, it is also possible to apply for German Citizenship. And if the kid was born here in Germany but have non-German parents – on or after January 1st, 2000 – can also apply to German Citizenship under certain circumstances. At least one parent must have lived in the country legally, paid taxes, and al that for at least eight years and have a permanent right of residency.
And be aware that the child must decide which nationality they want to keep when they are between 18 and 23 years of age if they have more than one. That is not well-publicized, so that is why we include it here.
If you have a cool story about applying to German Citizenship or any German visa offers, help people by sharing your story.