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

497 posts in this topic

Hi everyone,

 

I submitted my citizenship application yesterday (Berlin-Kreuzberg) and, like many others in this forum, petitioned to keep my US citizenship, invoking the "unzumutbare Bedingungen" argument. I'm self-employed, so the gross/net distinction gets to be murky, and the legal provision leaves room for interpretation. One immigration lawyer I contacted wouldn't even meet with me about it. Another basically just told me that there is, indeed, a gray area in my case but that my chances would be greatest if my income puts me somewhere hovering around Sozialhilfe level. He recommended I simply present my arguments from my perspective and involve a lawyer only if an appeal were to become necessary. Obviously, I'd like to avoid that to begin with.

 

So, I wrote up a detailed argument explaining that my gross profit (Reingewinn) isn't comparable to the gross monthly income (Brutto-Einkommen) of a salaried employee. If nothing else, my 'Vorsorgekosten' (health insurance + retirement) are double since I have to pay the 'Arbeitgeber' half as well (approx. 18.5% total). I also pay voluntarily into the state retirement scheme and private Rürup fund (again, including the 'Arbeitgeberanteil') because this was a) a condition of my application for permanent residence and b)) is to avoid poverty in old age (which you would think the state would applaud). This is another roughly 18.5%. And because I'm not entitled to any state disability coverage in the event of an accident etc., I also pay for a private disability policy. I also pointed out that building reserves is especially important when you're self-employed. In my situation, a gross profit of around EUR 3,000 would net me roughly what a salaried employee with a gross salary around the 'unzumutbar' cutoff of EUR 2,100 would have, give or take a hundred euros or so.

 

The case worker appeared unimpressed. After patiently reading through my explanation, she said she doubted I would succeed but that I was more than welcome to try. I mentioned that my average income had decreased significantly compared to the previous fiscal year. She said that could, in fact, work in my favor but that would be determined later when they start processing my application and review my current financial situation again based on the most recent 12 months of income. She still seemed confident that my business profit would be treated exactly the same as an employee's gross salary, which I find a little hard to believe.

My question is basically how much gross profit a freelancer can earn  -- especially one who has statutory health insurance -- for the bureaucrats to take this argument seriously. Thanks for your help.

 

Cheers.

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It has to be under the amount that the USA currently charges for nullifying US citizenship. I had netted 1950/mo. the year before (luckily a low income year, haha) and it went through fine. If the cutoff is 2100, you should show that the amount you were taxed on the year before averages out to under that amount. As to whether they judge the previous year as the only evidence, or if your income thus far THIS year plays a factor, I don't know... if last year's is too high, best wait it out, submit your taxes for 2020 in January, and give it a go as soon as you have your Steuerbescheid back. Only a suggestion, but before you do it based on 2020 income thus far you'd best find somebody with evidence that current year income would work too.

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On 1/26/2020, 11:45:04, Loganfive said:


Here’s the excerpt from the form:

 

Hamburg Form p. 7

Hey,

 

I want to keep my citizenship but the Hamburg application does not provide any room for checking or explaining that. With signing the application, you’re stating that you’re willing to give up your citizenship. It’s not even mentioning the possibility of dual citizenship. If I were a EU-citizen, this would be unlawful.

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14 minutes ago, Loganfive said:

If I were a EU-citizen, this would be unlawful.

But you‘re not.  So it isn't.  You will have to do some more digging to see if it's possible in your individual case.  

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On 5/26/2020, 3:35:50, OnTheFritz said:

argument that my gross profit (Reingewinn) isn't comparable to the gross monthly income (Brutto-Einkommen) of a salaried employee.

 

my 'Vorsorgekosten' (health insurance + retirement) are double since I have to pay the 'Arbeitgeber' half as well (approx. 18.5% total).

I also pay voluntarily into the state retirement scheme and private Rürup fund (again, including the 'Arbeitgeberanteil') 

I also pay for a private disability policy. 

 

I pointed out building reserves is important when you're self-employed.

 

The case worker appeared unimpressed.

 

She still seemed confident that my business profit would be treated exactly the same as an employee's gross salary, which I find a little hard to believe.

My question is basically how much gross profit a freelancer can earn

 

 

As you likely know, to fit into the StAG § 12(1)(3) exception so you can naturalize and maintain U.S. citizenship your average Bruttomonatseinkommen needs to be less than the U.S. fee of USD 2,350.  (See statute and regulation excerpted below). 

 

In Saxony the Abteilung Staatsangehörigkeits- und Ausländerangelegenheiten gave consideration to the required social contributions (insurance, retirement contributions), as reducing business profit.  But "building a reserve" is not going to be a relevant business expense that lowers your profit.  Find some other business expenses (technology, furniture, marketing) and reduce your annual profit so that when divide by twelve it comes out below the magic number, and hope the dollar increases in value. 

 

And keep us posted on your experiences.

 

 

Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (StAG) § 12

 

(1) Von der Voraussetzung des § 10 Abs. 1 Satz 1 Nr. 4 wird abgesehen, wenn der Ausländer seine bisherige Staatsangehörigkeit nicht oder nur unter besonders schwierigen Bedingungen aufgeben kann. Das ist anzunehmen, wenn

 

3.  der ausländische Staat die Entlassung aus der Staatsangehörigkeit aus Gründen versagt hat, die der Ausländer nicht zu vertreten hat, oder von unzumutbaren Bedingungen abhängig macht oder über den vollständigen und formgerechten Entlassungsantrag nicht in angemessener Zeit entschieden hat

 

5. dem Ausländer bei Aufgabe der ausländischen Staatsangehörigkeit erhebliche Nachteile insbesondere wirtschaftlicher oder vermögensrechtlicher Art entstehen würden, die über den Verlust der staatsbürgerlichen Rechte hinausgehen, oder

 

 

 

Verwaltungsvorschriften

 

12.1.2.3.2.1

 

Eine unzumutbare Bedingung im Sinne des Satzes 2 Nr. 3, 2. Fallgruppe liegt insbesondere vor, wenn die bei der Entlassung zu entrichtenden Gebühren (einschließlich Nebenkosten wie zum Beispiel Beglaubigungskosten) ein durchschnittliches Bruttomonatseinkommen des Einbürgerungsbewerbers übersteigen und mindestens 1 278,23 Euro (umgerechnet von 2 500 DM) betragen.

 

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On 8/30/2020, 4:14:02, Loganfive said:

I want to keep my citizenship but the Hamburg application does not provide any room for checking or explaining that.

 

I agree the page 7 you linked to doesn't look like there is an option.  Maybe there is a different form, or a different version of the declaration on page 7?  Perhaps they are just making it difficult by providing a document only geared toward the 'normal' case, and you need to modify the declaration on page 7.  Naturally, I'm sure any change is going to slow things down as one person consults with a colleague...

 

The law provides for the option, for those that qualify for certain exceptions.  Below are relevant statute and regulation excerpts.  Also, for info, below is excerpt from Saxon form.

 

Good luck.

 

Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (StAG) § 12

 

(1) Von der Voraussetzung des § 10 Abs. 1 Satz 1 Nr. 4 wird abgesehen, wenn der Ausländer seine bisherige Staatsangehörigkeit nicht oder nur unter besonders schwierigen Bedingungen aufgeben kann. Das ist anzunehmen, wenn

 

3.  der ausländische Staat die Entlassung aus der Staatsangehörigkeit aus Gründen versagt hat, die der Ausländer nicht zu vertreten hat, oder von unzumutbaren Bedingungen abhängig macht oder über den vollständigen und formgerechten Entlassungsantrag nicht in angemessener Zeit entschieden hat

 

5. dem Ausländer bei Aufgabe der ausländischen Staatsangehörigkeit erhebliche Nachteile insbesondere wirtschaftlicher oder vermögensrechtlicher Art entstehen würden, die über den Verlust der staatsbürgerlichen Rechte hinausgehen, oder

 

 

 

Verwaltungsvorschriften

 

12.1.2.3.2.1

 

Eine unzumutbare Bedingung im Sinne des Satzes 2 Nr. 3, 2. Fallgruppe liegt insbesondere vor, wenn die bei der Entlassung zu entrichtenden Gebühren (einschließlich Nebenkosten wie zum Beispiel Beglaubigungskosten) ein durchschnittliches Bruttomonatseinkommen des Einbürgerungsbewerbers übersteigen und mindestens 1 278,23 Euro (umgerechnet von 2 500 DM) betragen.

 

 

saxon form 2018.jpg

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Has anyone figured out yet how to accomplish this? I keep getting granted deadline extensions, but I have not come up with any good ideas about how to prove that losing US citizenship would be a financial loss for me. The person handling my case already said that losing the ability to inherit property or land is a "potential" loss at some possible point in the future and does not count. I would have to prove that I would immediately suffer a huge financial loss the day I gave up my citizenship.

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4 hours ago, half-japanese said:

Has anyone figured out yet how to accomplish this? I keep getting granted deadline extensions, but I have not come up with any good ideas about how to prove that losing US citizenship would be a financial loss for me. The person handling my case already said that losing the ability to inherit property or land is a "potential" loss at some possible point in the future and does not count. I would have to prove that I would immediately suffer a huge financial loss the day I gave up my citizenship.


Yes, I've accomplished it- you need to have more than an "ability" to inherit. There are some loopholes but the general theme is proving serious personal or financial harm by giving up your current citizenship (USA or other).

If you have a crappy job, the USA charges $4000 to give up your citizenship. If you earn very little, that alone might be enough. They will use family income if you are living with a partner. If you have assets that would be taxed heavily if you are no longer a citizen (of you are an American, a fat IRA or an owned home might be enough) because you are exempted from the tax as an American but if you are only German, it's about 30% - which could show severe financial hardship.

 

If you own a business in the USA, and need to be able to travel to the USA frequently, that is an acceptable reason.

"Personal" hardship is more difficult, we all have an old parent in the USA we might someday need to care for but they are ready for that one. Throw it in, but have a few more reasons.

The "Beamter" has a lot of power here, toss in whatever you have and hope for the best. One more tip - make no attempt to fight it in English or it will work against you.

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I'm not sure about some of the information being posted here – I think it is $2350 that the US charges to give up your citizenship, not $4000.

 

My German lawyer didn't have me make any claims about my IRA or inheritance or anything on my application in order to prove hardship resulting from giving up US citizenship. I really think he would have done that if it was possible, but if you have information that that approach actually works, I would be curious to hear about it. 

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9 hours ago, Berlinexpatnine said:

I'm not sure about some of the information being posted here – I think it is $2350 that the US charges to give up your citizenship, not $4000.

 

My German lawyer didn't have me make any claims about my IRA or inheritance or anything on my application in order to prove hardship resulting from giving up US citizenship. I really think he would have done that if it was possible, but if you have information that that approach actually works, I would be curious to hear about it. 

 

Obviously - as I was successful - I didn't need to give up my USA citizenship and you are probably correct about the price.

 The attorneys I visited said flatly that they would take the case but I would lose, and it would have been costly. I fought it myself showing financial and personal hardship. I would really quiz your German attorney about USA tax penalties should you give up your citizenship. I have yet to find one very familiar with USA Tax and Inheritance laws and their penalties.


 

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It's funny on this board that you often are told that you need to get the advice of a professional whenever questions about immigration and taxes and such come up. I followed this advice and asked several professionals, but now I come back to Toytown Germany and find out that the professionals I was talking to didn't know what they were doing This is all kind of disheartening.

I guess I can always start the process over and try for dual citizenship again.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Berlinexpatnine said:

It's funny on this board that you often are told that you need to get the advice of a professional whenever questions about immigration and taxes and such come up. I followed this advice and asked several professionals, but now I come back to Toytown Germany and find out that the professionals I was talking to didn't know what they were doing This is all kind of disheartening.

 

It depends on the circumstances. There are certain very specialised areas of law where there are hardly any experts whereas in other areas it is possible to easily find many good lawyers with a certain specialization. Furthermore, the designation Fachanwalt für Migrationsrecht was only established 5 years ago, making it even more difficult to choose a lawyer. I personally was not impressed by a lawyer who has been highly recommended on this website.

 

TT has also steadily gone downhill over the past few years in the quality of advice offered on immigration and legal matters. I would highly recommend posting on info4alien.de. The site is moderated and for the most part provides high quality immigration advice. The downside is that you have to (anonymously) post your question on an open forum.

 

Quote

I guess I can always start the process over and try for dual citizenship again.

 

There is generally little point in restarting the process without first appealing a decision; you should first at least get a lawyer for the Akteneinsicht before filing again. 

 

Did you withdraw your application for citizenship? 

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I am at a rather uncertain point in my process. I told my lawyer to withdraw my request for dual citizenship if it would speed up the process for my other family members, to whom dual citizenship has been promised (promised to my lawyer in spoken language, not on paper). He actually hasn't told me which direction it is going to go. I'm not sure why he hasn't given me an answer, but I assume he needs to feel out the situation a bit more.

Either I will soon get a piece of paper saying that I can get German citizenship only if I give up US citizenship, or, if my lawyer decides that appealing the decision won't slow down the case for the rest of my family members, then I will be denied German citizenship because I am insisting on keeping US citizenship and I will argue my case in administrative court.

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By the way, I've been getting some private messages that the issue might be the amount in the IRA, that the really bad financial consequences for giving up US citizenship don't kick in until you have in excess of 2,000,000 in assets.

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1 hour ago, Berlinexpatnine said:

I told my lawyer to withdraw my request for dual citizenship if it would speed up the process for my other family members, to whom dual citizenship has been promised (promised to my lawyer in spoken language, not on paper).

 

Are your other family members also applying for HvM due to financial hardship?

 

1 hour ago, Berlinexpatnine said:

Either I will soon get a piece of paper saying that I can get German citizenship only if I give up US citizenship, or, if my lawyer decides that appealing the decision won't slow down the case for the rest of my family members, then I will be denied German citizenship because I am insisting on keeping US citizenship and I will argue my case in administrative court.

 

If you are the main applicant, I don't see how your family members who are applying for citizenship with you can receive citizenship while your application is still being processed. 

 

Are you willing to give up your American citizenship so that your family members can quickly receive German citizenship? 

 

 

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I don't know what HvM stands for, but we are all applying for dual citizenship together on the basis of hardship due to the $2350 payment for renouncing citizenship.

 

 I'm trying to make the process happen as quickly as possible, so I have instructed my lawyer to do what it takes regarding my personal situation in order to make sure my family gets dual citizenship as soon as possible. My expectation is that I will receive a qualified citizenship offer (bring a letter showing that citizenship in the United States has been surrendered) and that my family members will receive an unqualified offer of German citizenship. That is how the lawyer has explained it to me on multiple occasions if I'm not mistaken. I never got the impression that I would need to take on German citizenship for them to get dual citizenship. I'm sure my lawyer would've mentioned something like that.

 

At the moment, I am not willing to give up US citizenship to get German citizenship, and I wouldn't even consider taking that path until I had spoken to a lawyer who specializes in renouncing, since I have not sure what disadvantages I would experience other than the obvious ones. The most obvious disadvantages that I would want to clear up are: 

 

1. What happens to my IRA accounts?

2. What happens if I inherit money and property from the US?

 

I can't say if I might change my mind about this in the future, but renouncing citizenship is not something I am looking to do at this time. Who knows where the world will be 10 years from now, so I want to keep my options open.

 

Anyway, my application will be dropped if necessary, but my understanding is that dropping the application would still result in a qualified citizenship offer. However, if the lawyer says I can still pursue my case separately without harming my family's case, then I will continue to try to get dual citizenship after my family has already received dual citizenship. In that case, I would expect that the Bezirksamt would issue a letter stating that my entire application had been declined because they could not allow me to keep my US citizenship.

 

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