How to get German Citizenship and retain (dual) US Citizenship

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6 minutes ago, Neudarmstaedter said:

@ZeitbuchThey did not ask about rent.

Huh, interesting. I guess the exact set of documents varies by location but I thought that normally a lease or proof of home ownership was required as part of the application? (which usually includes rent)

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Hello everyone, I want to thank you for your support throughout this process — and for the inspiration to try! I was going for my permanent residency, thinking that was the best I could get, when I found this thread, and it's definitively changed my life, as I am now officially a dual citizen of Germany & the US.

 

My case in a nutshell:

Hauptwohnsitz in Berlin-Friedrichshain/Kreuzberg

• freelance artist/teacher/etc.

• single

• eligible after seven years due to having taken an Integrationkurs early on (see link below)

• Successfully argued the umzumutbar low-income exemption to retain US citizenship while gaining German citizenship.

 

The process took about 15 months. I submitted my application in June 2017, additional documents by August 2017, was told in November when I inquired about the status of my application that it would "take awhile." I contacted my Ansprechspartnerin again in June 2018 and was told "leider hat sich die Bearbeitungszeit auf 12 Monate erhöht," a statement that struck me as odd but that I never bothered to clarify. I was asked to provide my 2017 tax declaration and another estimated income statement from my accountant for 2018 (confirmation that I was earning in that special window of not too little, about 300–400€ above your costs, and not too much, equivalent of USD2350/month. For me, that was stated as EUR1275/month). When I then asked how much longer it would be, I received another strange statement, "Ich kann es Ihnen wirklich nicht sagen. Wenn wir hier einen Entscheidung getroffen haben, muss ich Ihren Vorgang auf Grund des kurzen Aufenthaltes in Deutschland und Ihren Wunsch auf doppelte Staatsbürgerschaft der Senatsverwaltung vorlegen. Und deren Bearbeitungszeiten sind sehr schwer einzuschätzen." Eight years is a short stay?! Anyway... I inquired about the status again at the beginning of September (by email) and was told (by email) that my request had been approved by the Senat, received an invitation by snail mail a week later to come to the Bürgeramt a week after that, and I received my Einbürgerungsurkunde yesterday on October 1, 2018. I was able to scoop up a last-minute appointment cancellation and already applied for my passport this morning!

 

Now, if I can just find the loophole to transfer over my driver's license — held in California for 22+ years already, oy — without having to engage in the racket of paying for it all over again, that would be such a relief. (I mean, if I can't afford USD2350 to give up Ami citizenship, how can I afford similar costs for a driver's license?!) 

 

Here are the checklist and references I used for this process, in hopes it's helpful for another:

 

  • original birth certificate
  • birth certificate translation
  • US passport
  • Current visa
  • Abschluss des Integrationskurses
  • Bestätigung des Einbürgerungstest (submitted in June before I took it in July and got the Ergebnis in August 2017. The Orientierungsprüfung I'd taken in like 2012 was no longer valid, so I had to do this part again. It's not terribly difficult, lots of questions about the war still. See link to practice tests below.)
  • Ergebnis des Einbürgerungstest
  • Mietvertrag oder Grundbucheintrag
  • Auskunft in Steuersachen des Finanzamts (You have to go to the Finanzamt to pick this up. It's 22€ normally but free if requested for this purpose. The woman was super nice, a fervent St. Pauli fan, and had a poster on the wall of a hairless mostly nude dude in place of fuzzy kittens in a basket. Love Berlin.)
  • Bestätigung des Steuerberaters über monatliche Nettoeinkünfte für das lfd. Jahr (statement from your accountant about your estimated income for the year)
  • Einkommenssteuerbescheid for the three previous years
  • Sozialversicherungsverlauf das Rententrägers
  • Aktueller Kontozustand Rentenversicherung
  • 225€
  • Statement: Vermeidung von Mehrstaatigkeit

    Ich finde es unzumutbar, die US-Staatsangehörigkeit aufzugeben, weil die US- Regierung eine Gebühr von $2.350,00 USD berechnet, um die US- Staatsbürgerschaft zu annullieren.

    Gemäß Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz §12 Absatz 1,3 gilt eine derartige Gebühr als „unzumutbare Bedingung“, die bisherige Staatsangehörigkeit aufzugeben.

    Gemäß den Richtlinien der Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Migration, Flüchtlinge und Integration ist die Unzumutbarkeit gegeben, wenn die Gebühr 1.278,00 Euro überschreitet und das Monatsnettoeinkommen übersteigt und die Aufgabe der bisherigen Staatsbürgerschaft muss nicht mehr aufgegeben werden.

    Beide Fälle sind hier gegeben. Ich bedanke mich für ihr Verständnis

Resources:
• Info about Einbürgerung according to my neighborhood in Berlin: https://www.berlin.de/ba-friedrichshain-kreuzberg/politik-und-verwaltung/aemter/amt-fuer-buergerdienste/staatsangehoerigkeitsbehoerde/artikel.165474.php

• Einbürgerungs practice tests: http://www.info4alien.de/cgi-bin/forum/YaBB.cgi?action=quiz

• Toytown Germany thread (this!): https://www.toytowngermany.com/forum/topic/366329-how-to-get-german-citizenship-and-retain-dual-us-citizenship/?page=1

• Reduction of required period of stay to 7 years with Integrationskurs: http://www.info4alien.de/einbuergerung/themen/bes_int.htm

• Confirmation of current USD2350 fee for Certificate of Loss of Nationality (Expatriation): https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/01/31/2018-01850/schedule-of-fees-for-consular-services-department-of-state-and-overseas-embassies-and-consulates

 

Good luck with your particular bureaucrazy!

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On 2.10.2018, 10:34:50, qzen said:

The Orientierungsprüfung I'd taken in like 2012 was no longer valid, so I had to do this part again.

@qzenSo did you have to take two tests, the Leben in Deutschland (LID) and the Einbürgerungstest at the same time or separate or what? I thought the tests were the same but the scoring requirements are different. 

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It's the same test (structure and process) used for the two purposes now.  15 gets you through the LED (via Orientation course of the Integration Course only) but it's 17 for naturalisation (which most of us do separately and of course we can try for as we choose).     The distinction is set out here for the first:


https://www.bamf.de/DE/Willkommen/DeutschLernen/Integrationskurse/Abschlusspruefung/LebenInDeutschland/lebenindeutschland.html?nn=1362952

 

(And same for me, when I naturalised, my ancient integration course test was not valid so had to do the Einbürgerung version).

 

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@cybil just the Einbürgerungsprüfung, as @swimmer said. (I'd never heard of the LID test until coming back to this thread.)

 

I got some further clarification from an integration lawyer friend a few days ago. He think the 12-month processing time comment ("leider hat sich die Bearbeitungszeit auf 12 Monate erhöht") just means that they put the file aside for a year until I'd been here eight years BECAUSE a day under eight years is that "short stay" but after eight years, you have a RIGHT to claim citizenship, not just the possibility to do so due, in my case, to the integration course opening the door a year earlier. If they were to deny me at that point, they would have to submit an argument in proper legalese, and most Amt workers are not trained lawyers, y'see, so it was just easiest for them to leave the case until I'd been here eight years and let the lawyers at the Senat handle the decision then. He said it was also not in their interest to deny me despite any personal convictions because Berlin is progressive by reputation, and they wouldn't fall out of line on this. So, he's confident they just waited until my short stay became eight years and the Senat would do the heavy lifting of actual, critical decision-making.

 

Also, he mentioned something about my being a freelance artist effecting the amount I'd need to earn (in order to not be a threat of going social security), something about earnings being typical for a career path. Like, if I was working in automobile marketing as a freelancer, I'd need to still be earning somewhere near the typical equivalent earnings of an employee... So the amount you need to earn depends on your field, it seems.

 

Good luck @kaffeemitmilch!

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I went to the local Rathaus to get the low down on what they need from me in order to start the Einbürgerungs process. No list was offered. I was asked to just bring my B1 language test result and the Einbürgerungstest result. I have as yet to motivate myself to go take the Einbürgerungstest. Why? Because somewhere between walking into the Rathaus and walking back out, I felt my emotional heels digging into the earth to stop my progress.

 

What is/are the benefits of having a dual American/German citizenship when you:

*already have a permanent residence in Germany

*have worked over 5 years here and are still employed (e.g. will receive a pension)

* are entitled to unemployment assistance

*receieve a pension here (and from the US) upon retirement

*can own /inherit property 

*after 10 years working here and after retirement, are entitled to a place to live at a local AWO if you end up receiving a low pension (though the waiting list may be very very long)

 

It is not clear to me if Americans who have a long working history and permanent residence here are later entitled to apply for and receive Pflege assistance, should they need it, though I think they must be, having paid into a German health insurance plan for a few decades by then. It is also not clear to me if low income/pension folks here who are not German or dual citizens will receive a Mindestrente.

 

Am I correct in thinking perhaps the only reasons for an American to want/need a dual citizenship here are:

*they have kids with dual citizenship

*they want to vote in German elections

*plan to possibly re-locate within the EU for work/retirement 

 

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My main motivations were such:

 

- live/work elsewhere in the EU without the hassle of further proving myself to earn an appropriate visa

- travel/work internationally as German*

- live outside of Germany/EU without limit**

- vote!

 

* as a freelance artist, there are some countries that have unfortunate reciprocity deals with the US re: work permits and what-not. Brazil is a good example. I don't need to pay $500 for a work permit to perform there as a German. Re: travel, one of my buddies growing up is Iranian. Going to Iran as an American is... well, not the same as going as a German, na?

 

** the "better" of the two permanent residency options still only allows one year of living outside the EU and six outside Germany. What if I need/want to live elsewhere for a period? I don't want to sacrifice my whole investment of time/life here.

 

Have you actually looked at the Einbürgerungstest? (I provided a link.) It is ridiculously easy, imho. It's certainly a very low hurdle to a great benefit.

 

Quote

It is also not clear to me if low income/pension folks here who are not German or dual citizens will receive a Mindestrente.

Dual citizenship = German citizenship = entitlement to anything else a "normal" German/EU citizen would get!

 

I'd certainly be curious about others' motivations!

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Above I was meaning, I'm not sure if Americans/other foreign permanent residents living in Germany, who have worked here many years but at a low income, are also entitled to a Mindestrente, like German citizensHowever, so far, there is no Mindestrente in Germany. The politcians haven't made any final decisions about it. 

 

@qzen Yes, I did look at the Einbürgerungstest. I have taken the practice test for fun and passed. Thanks for sharing the link! The study questions are pretty much the same as for the old Orientierungstest I took and passed years ago. 

 

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On 10/8/2018, 11:25:34, cybil said:

Am I correct in thinking perhaps the only reasons for an American to want/need a dual citizenship here are:

*they have kids with dual citizenship

*they want to vote in German elections

*plan to possibly re-locate within the EU for work/retirement 

 

You can come and go as you please unequivocally and you can more freely roam the EU and other countries. Right now my husband is working on reacquiring the German citizenship that he was forced to give up upon becoming a naturalized US citizen. Many people become naturalized US citizens for family and/or professional reasons. Germany is making it such that those folks currently have a path for dual citizenship, and they are alllowing older folks for whom that path was unavailable to step back in. 

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20 hours ago, BethAnnBitt said:

 

You can come and go as you please unequivocally and you can more freely roam the EU and other countries. Right now my husband is working on reacquiring the German citizenship that he was forced to give up upon becoming a naturalized US citizen. Many people become naturalized US citizens for family and/or professional reasons. Germany is making it such that those folks currently have a path for dual citizenship, and they are alllowing older folks for whom that path was unavailable to step back in. 

 

My retirement plan is summer in Germany, and winters abroad. Should you leave Germany for over six months you can lose your permanent residence. You also can pass on your citizenship should you have children. And you can retire to a different EU country as a German, but not necessarily as a permanent resident. 

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Hello Everyone, 

 

I will be applying for my German citizenship and hope to keep my American passport as well. Alone I do not make more than 2350 USD a month, but with my husband we make a little over that. Does anyone know if they count the income of both me and me husband, or my income alone? We are by no means a high income household, making together 27000 euros a year. My husband is a freelancer and I am officially employed by him (making about 500 a month). Do you know if this loophole would somehow apply to me as well? Someone in the thread mentioned there is another way they calculate the maximum income for couples. Any help would be much appreciated! 

 

 

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On 11/8/2018, 11:59:08, lalajun said:

I will be applying for my German citizenship and hope to keep my American passport as well. Alone I do not make more than 2350 USD a month, but with my husband we make a little over that. Does anyone know if they count the income of both me and me husband, or my income alone? We are by no means a high income household, making together 27000 euros a year. My husband is a freelancer and I am officially employed by him (making about 500 a month). Do you know if this loophole would somehow apply to me as well?

 

Since you are getting divorced anyway and already have a Cuban boyfriend , I wouldn't worry too much about your husband's income here, right? ;)

 

As you are currently working on defrauding the German government by somehow getting said Cuban boyfriend a visa by a pregnancy, it looks like you already have a pretty good loophole detector.

 

What's your name again?

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On 10/8/2018, 6:25:34, cybil said:

Am I correct in thinking perhaps the only reasons for an American to want/need a dual citizenship here are:

*they have kids with dual citizenship

*they want to vote in German elections

*plan to possibly re-locate within the EU for work/retirement 

 

 

For me it boils down to one thing: Freedom of choice.

 

I really like it here in Germany and while we may decide at one point to go back to the US, I don’t want the taking of that decision to close the door to a place that’s been my home for the last 6 years. I want to be able to decide to come back without restriction, maybe retire somewhere here or elsewhere in Europe, and ultimately have a sure-fire guarantee that I’ll be able to get back here should— god forbid— shit go down.

 

All of those arguments apply as well to wanting to keep my US passport.

 

Unfortunately as mentioned earlier in this thread, I have an approximately 0% chance of getting both passports as our income is too high. It really is a shame, as I know if/when we decide to go back to the US, that’s basically it for us — really no way to go back to live here again.

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52 minutes ago, Ben21 said:

 

For me it boils down to one thing: Freedom of choice.

 

I really like it here in Germany and while we may decide at one point to go back to the US, I don’t want the taking of that decision to close the door to a place that’s been my home for the last 6 years. I want to be able to decide to come back without restriction, maybe retire somewhere here or elsewhere in Europe, and ultimately have a sure-fire guarantee that I’ll be able to get back here should— god forbid— shit go down.

 

All of those arguments apply as well to wanting to keep my US passport.

 

Unfortunately as mentioned earlier in this thread, I have an approximately 0% chance of getting both passports as our income is too high. It really is a shame, as I know if/when we decide to go back to the US, that’s basically it for us — really no way to go back to live here again.

 

I understand the desire to have a German Passport in order to reduce the bureaucracy that you have to go through and make your life here easier, but  I'm sorry to say that I don't think you should be applying for a German Passport as you don't seem to have up your mind what you want to do long term, and taking German citizenship (or any other country) should only be done once you are sure as you are making a lifelong commitment to the country when you become a citizen.

 

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Hi Toytowners...

 

I've been lurking - but not posting - on this thread for over a year.  I earn more than the stated threshhold of $2350/month - would never apply to me. I went to many dis-interested attorneys before I realized none of them really wanted to help.

 

There is a lot of good info here,  however, several other exceptions you folks may not be aware of.

 

The rule isn't so much earning less than $2350 - it is more demonstrating severe financial hardship by renouncing citizenship.  Since the USA charges (I don't remember how much, a few thousand $$$), if you earn less than $2350 - it demonstrates severe financial hardship, as it is more than two months' net pay.

 

Assuming the interested parties reading this happen to be American - there are a few other things which would show severe financial hardship. Your IRA, Social Security, any Inheritance, and (should you own a house) capital gains taxes due, would all have a negative impact financially,  should you relinquish your USA citizenship. 

 

Another exception is particularly useful for people of certain ethnicities. If you are from a country which does not recognize relinquishing citizenship, you can be both. If you are of Jewish or Roma descent, and, your grandparents (or parents) had their citizenship revoked during the time when the Nazis removed citizenship from Jews  - you can petition to have their citizenship (and yours as a descendant) reinstated. I went to high school with a dual-citizen Jewish kid, who had never been to Germany but had both citizenships as his father had fled the Holocaust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 11/11/2018, 1:52:35, dj_jay_smith said:

taking German citizenship (or any other country) should only be done once you are sure as you are making a lifelong commitment to the country when you become a citizen.

That is of course very noble, but it's not what most people do, is it?

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