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German Citizenship by Birth to Non-German Parents
Citizenship implies a mutual relationship between a person and a country. This especially close relationship establishes certain rights and duties. Further down you will learn about the rules of obtaining German citizenship.
My husband and I do not have German citizenship. Recently I gave birth to our child here in Germany. Can he become a Germany national?
Until recently, children of foreigners did not automatically receive German citizenship. As of January 2000, children born in Germany to foreign parents will receive German citizenship if
- one parent has his habitual and lawful residence in Germany for eight years, or
- one parent has his habitual and lawful residence in Germany for seven years and has passed an integration course,
- and this parent has either residence permit a settlement permission for three years (§4 III StAG).
Neither my husband nor I have German citizenship. We fought through all the paperwork to get our child German citizenship. Now we want to know: How long he will keep his German citizenship without surrendering his Canadian citizenship. How long will he be able to have it ?
Your child has automatically received German citizenship. Up to his 18th birthday, neither you nor your son have to have any worries. By international conventions, Germany is obligated to reduce multiple citizenships. On his 18th birthday, his city government will inform him that he has five years to decide whether or not to remain a German. He must make up his mind by his 23rd birthday. This is a legal obligation, not a privilege. He will lose his German citizenship if he does not opt for German citizenship or prove that he has renounced his other citizenship.
My son has lived here all of his life, but has often visited his native country. He wants to keep citizenships in both countries. Is that somehow possible?
That will be possible if he applies before his 21st birthday to also keep his German citizenship. This is the so-called Beibehaltungsgenehmigung (permission to retain your second citizenship). You may maintain your other nationality if it is not possible to waive it, or if there are exceptional grounds for a multiple citizenship.
That Beibehaltungsgenehmigung sounds intriguing. When will Germany accept a multiple citizenship if I want to take advantage of that retaining permission?
German law (Art. 24 StAG) allows multiple citizenship only under especially difficult conditions. You must show:
- that the law of your home country does not provide for deprivation of citizenship,
- that you have applied at your country’s consulate for deprivation and your home country usually refuses to deprive citizenship,
- that your home country arbitrarily refuses to release you from your citizenship,
- that your home country does not process your request in a reasonable time after filing a complete and formally correct application,
- that you belong to a special group of persons, especially like political refugees (§60 AufenthG), and the requirement of deprivation of your citizenship would be an undue hardship,
- that your home country makes a dismissal subject to the fulfilling of your military service and you have obtained most of your school education in German schools and you have grown into German living conditions and into the age of draft,
- that you have not yet reached the age of maturity (in Germany 18 years). In this case, Germany will grant you a binding promise of naturalization,
- that you have not been sentenced for a criminal offense.
Is there a possibility for my small child to also obtain German citizenship according to the new law?
Yes, she has a chance. Generally, all children under ten can apply for German citizenship if
- they were born in Germany,
- have their habitual residence in Germany,
- at least one of the parents must have maintained habitual and lawful residence in Germany for eight years
- have a settlement permission for three years.
If your child meets these conditions, she will have the option of keeping German citizenship until she turns 18. Then your child will have to decide.