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Project Expat
  • Project Expat
  • Sep 11, 2023

Upcoming Changes in German Citizenship Eligibility

Germany has always been a popular destination for immigrants due to its strong economy and central position in Europe. Despite the number of people who come to the country to work and study, Germany has traditionally granted fewer citizenships based on residency than other European Union countries.

However, we have some good news for you! Earlier this year, a new citizenship bill was proposed in Germany to simplify the citizenship process. The goal is to tackle this issue and promote a more welcoming and inclusive society.

As of August 2023, the German government’s cabinet has approved the bill, which will now be presented in front of the Bundestag (Parliament). Nancy Faeser, the Interior Minister of Germany, has confirmed that if everything goes as planned, the law might come into force by January 2024.

But what are the changes that will come along with this law and how will it benefit expats? Keep reading to find out!

Reduced Residency Requirement

One of the main proposed changes in the new German citizenship legislation is the reduction of the minimum residency requirement. That means that, instead of the eight-year minimum stay in Germany that is currently required, five years of residency will be enough to qualify an individual for citizenship. By speeding up the citizenship process, the country is aiming to promote a feeling of integration and belonging.

Moreover, the new bill aims to tackle the issue of citizenship rights for kids born to foreign parents within Germany. Presently, these children are granted German citizenship only if one parent has lived in Germany for a minimum of eight years before their birth. This scenario seems to be changing with the new bill, which aims to lower this requirement to five years too.

Furthermore, in specific situations, certain individuals could even be eligible for German citizenship with just three years of residing in the country. This special provision for naturalization encompasses those who have showcased remarkable educational or professional achievements, exhibited significant social dedication, and possess exceptional language proficiency (at the C1 level).

Dual and multiple citizenship

Another important achievement of the new law is the fact that dual and multiple citizenships will be accepted. This means that people won’t have to give up their citizenship from their home country when becoming a German citizen. This change is highly remarkable, especially for people who came to Germany but still want to keep their connection to their home country.

Dual and multiple citizenship

Another important achievement of the new law is the fact that dual and multiple citizenships will be accepted. This means that people won’t have to give up their citizenship from their home country when becoming a German citizen. This change is highly remarkable, especially for people who came to Germany but still want to keep their connection to their home country.

It’s important to mention that right now, Germany allows for dual citizenship for people from EU countries, Switzerland, and in certain specific situations. But the upcoming adjustments will broaden this permission, which will be really helpful for individuals who come from countries outside the EU.

Additionally, children who get German citizenship through these new rules will also be able to keep their parents’ citizenship. This is a crucial improvement, as they will be able to stay connected to their roots, while also enjoying the rights of being a German citizen.

Furthermore, the proposed bill aims to do away with the forfeiture of German nationality in instances of adoption by a foreign national, as stipulated in § 27 of the German Nationality Act (StAG). That means that, if someone from another country adopts a German child, that child won’t lose their German citizenship because of the adoption.

New changes for the Gastarbeiter Generation

The new law is also acknowledging the challenges and hurdles that the “Gastarbeiter” generation had to face. This is the name that was given to immigrants who came to Germany for work during the “Economic Miracle” from the 1950s to the 1970s.

To help those who came to Germany back then, instead of demanding a minimum of B1 level in German, the new rule states that oral and conversational skills in German are enough to be eligible for citizenship.

What are the benefits of German citizenship?

Certainly, obtaining citizenship brings along a range of valuable benefits that can significantly improve your life in Germany as an expat.

1. Social Benefits

Becoming a citizen offers a sense of belonging and full integration into the country’s way of life. It provides individuals with the opportunity to actively participate in local communities, engage in civic activities, and exercise their rights as full-fledged members of the society.

2. International Travel and Mobility

One of the main benefits is the increased freedom of international travel. Citizens typically hold stronger passports, allowing them to visit more countries without the need for visas or with simplified visa processes.

3. Family and Education

Citizenship often extends its advantages to the entire family. Family reunification becomes easier, enabling family members to join the citizen in the country. Moreover, citizens usually have preferential access to quality education and healthcare systems, securing a brighter future for their children.

4. Political Participation

When obtaining citizenship, new citizens will have the right to vote and participate in political processes, giving them a voice in decisions that affect their lives and the future of the country.

5. Social Welfare and Support

Citizens are often entitled to a wider range of social welfare benefits, including unemployment benefits, retirement pensions, and social assistance programs, which can provide a safety net during challenging times.

6. Employment Opportunities

Acquiring citizenship can open up new career prospects, especially in sectors that require public service or a strong national affiliation.

7. Property Ownership and Investment

Citizenship may come with fewer restrictions on property ownership and investment opportunities. This can be especially beneficial for those interested in acquiring real estate or starting businesses in the country.

8. Identity and Cultural Connection

Citizenship provides an official recognition of an individual’s connection to the country. It signifies a commitment to the nation’s culture, history, and values, allowing individuals to proudly identify with new home.

What are the potential disadvantages?

Of course, while gaining citizenship offers a range of advantages, it’s essential to be aware of the potential drawbacks that might accompany this significant step. Making an informed decision involves weighing both the benefits and potential downsides. However, we want to tell you that despite the disadvantages that could come with acquiring citizenship, it is still well worth it.

1. Tax Obligations

Becoming a German citizen could have tax implications, particularly if you have significant income or financial assets. Germany has a progressive tax system, and as a citizen, you might be subject to higher tax rates on your global income and assets.

2. National Services Requirements

Germany abolished mandatory military service in 2011, but it’s important to note that citizenship might involve specific duties in times of national emergencies or crisis situations.

3. Loss of Non-Citizen Benefits

In some cases, permanent residents might have special rights or privileges that citizens do not. For instance, you might lose eligibility for certain government benefits or programs that are available only to non-citizens.

In conclusion, the new German citizenship law holds substantial benefits for expats. By simplifying and expediting the process of acquiring citizenship, it offers a significant advantage. Collectively, the aforementioned amendments create a more inclusive and supportive environment, fostering a sense of belonging and integration for everyone in Germany.

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I think that would be a great initiative and an added value service for expats like myself.


What a great idea to set up a website for English-speaking ex-pat's in Munich to help with everyday challenges.


I am looking forward to your services in the mentioned topics in the survey.


Sounds exciting and we would definitely use it for a myriad of reasons. Particularly as we are getting ready to move to Germering and require all of these services. Specifically, sometimes it is hard finding doctors who speak English. And both Cecilia and I work with auslanders who do not speak German, either (and would as well be interested).