Are pension contributions required to get citizenship?

10 posts in this topic

My central question is about if a pension is required for citizenship, but my more detailed reasoning is a bit more complicated and involves multiple exceptions/loop holes/unusual cases in German law. So beyond my main question, I'm also curious how those interact, if I'm misunderstanding any individual piece, and if this is actually possible in both theory and practice. I've laid out the pieces below:

 

Einbürgerung without Niederlassungserlaubnis

 

So, I've been thinking through the options for staying in Germany longer term and I realized that a Niederlassungerlaubnis is not required for citizenship as long as one "eine Aufenthaltserlaubnis für andere als die in den §§ 16, 17, 20, 22, 23 Abs. 1, 23a,24 und 25 Abs. 3 bis 5 des Aufenthaltsgesetzes aufgeführten Aufenthaltszwecke besitzt". My Aufenthaltserlaubnis is under 21 Abs. 5, which should qualify.

 

Einbürgerung in 6 years

 

And of course, citizenship is possible to get after 6 years with German B2 and above and/or volunteer work. This is stated in the same part (section 10) of the Einbürgerung law (http://www.info4alien.de/einbuergerung/gesetze/stag.htm#10) as the above: "Bei Vorliegen besonderer Integrationsleistungen, insbesondere beim Nachweis von Sprachkenntnissen, die die Voraussetzungen des Absatzes 1 Satz 1 Nr. 6 übersteigen, kann sie auf sechs Jahre verkürzt werden". That's just one year longer than it takes to get a Niederlassungserlaubnis.
 

(Lack of) Pension Requirements for Einbürgerung

 

Now, a Niederlassungserlaubnis requires a pension of some sort. As a freelancer, I don't need to pay pension contributions as long as I don't earn more than 83.3% of my income from one client (not to mention I don't have to pay social security in the US, as even though I'm not paying into the German system I'm still in compliance with German pension law). So there's no reason for me to pay into a pension legally, aside from to get a Niederlassungserlaubnis.

 

But, as far as I can tell, there are no requirements for pension contributions when naturalizing under section 10 of the Einbürgerung law. It isn't mentioned as a requirement at all. I've seen people here mention being asked for proof of pension contributions when naturalizing under section 9 (for spouses of German citizens), but so far I haven't heard it for section 10. This is in line with what this page says http://www.info4alien.de/einbuergerung/themen/altersvorsorge.htm- "Sofern bereits ein Anspruch auf Einbürgerung nach § 10 StAG besteht, muss überhaupt keine Altersvorsorge nachgewiesen werden. Das gleiche gilt, wenn es sich um eine Miteinbürgerung nach § 10 Abs. 2 StAG handelt. Anders sieht dies aber aus, wenn es sich um eine Einbürgerung nach Ermessen nach § 8 StAG oder um eine Regeleinbürgerung für Ehegatten Deutscher nach § 9 StAG handelt."


This makes it sound like a pension isn't required under section 10, even with the reduced time requirement of 6 years. I would like some additional confirmation of this though, and have a few questions-

1. Does anyone have an actual legal citation for a pension being required or not required for naturalization under section 10? The closest thing I can find is that the notes on section 8.1.1.4 (http://www.verwaltungsvorschriften-im-internet.de/bsvwvbund_13122000_V612400513.htm) state "Die Unterhaltsfähigkeit umfasst auch eine ausreichende soziale Absicherung gegen Krankheit, Pflegebedürftigkeit, Berufs- oder Erwerbsunfähigkeit und für das Alter." The notes for section 9 state that the applicant must meet the requirements for section 8.1.1.4 too. But there are no notes at all under section 10.

 

2. Would a pension be required if someone naturalized under section 10 in 6 years instead of 8 as that is a form of discretionary naturalization (similar to section 9)? Or would it not because that exception falls under section 10?

 

3. Has anyone here naturalized without showing pension contributions?

 

Retaining US Citizenship (but also proving a secure livelihood without a pension)

 

The last point that may impact how all of this would work in practice is that I'm not keen on giving up US citizenship. Now, there's the loophole of not having to renounce US citizenship if you make under $2350 a month before tax, which I currently do (though long term, would like absolute confirmation of if this is before or after business expenses). Of course, I'd also need to prove that I could support myself and make above Hartz IV eligible levels (make rent+health insurance+400 euros after taxes), which I could also do.

 

I have two concerns about this exception, however:

1. I wonder if using this exception, and also not having a pension, may interfere with this requirement "den Lebensunterhalt für sich und seine unterhaltsberechtigten Familienangehörigen ohne Inanspruchnahme von Leistungen nach dem Zweiten oder Zwölften Buch Sozialgesetzbuch bestreiten kann oder deren Inanspruchnahme nicht zu vertreten hat". I'm quite young, so I'm not about to retire anytime soon, but I wonder if maybe they would care more about a pension if I use the low-income loophole to retain US citizenship.

 

2. In particular, where specifically is this exception defined in German law? I know I saw it once, but I'm struggling to find the link right now. The closest I can find is the administrative notes on section 8.1.2.6.3.2 which states "Wenn der ausländische Staat die Entlassung durchweg verwehrt oder von unzumutbaren Bedingungen abhängig macht." as a reason for retaining a second nationality, but this isn't where the specific unreasonable amount to pay is defined. I'm wondering where it is defined as from what I remember it isn't discretionary, but I do want to check if it changes the section of the law the rest of the requirements are under (which could impact the pension requirement).

 

Summary

 

Theoretically, does all of this mean that it is possible to get citizenship after 6 years without an NE, without paying into any private or public pension, and retain US citizenship as long as I have a B2 (or higher) German certificate, income less than $2350 a month, and all other requirements fulfilled? 

 

Of course, this only works if none of the laws involved change and I'm a few years off from being eligible. So it may not work then even if it does now, but I figured I'd ask because maybe some of this could be helpful to someone else and this process takes advance planning for me. And yes, it may be best to talk to an immigration lawyer if I did this in practice, but I'm just trying to get a sense of what my options are for now.

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How good you brought this loopholes topic up! I'm currently in the same process, i.e. gathering my documents for naturalization in 6 years. Since I started thinking of obtaining a German citizenship, I also have read and heard contradicting information, including those about pension contribution.
After graduation from my German university and applying for self-employed work visa, I was told, either I want to apply for a PR or naturalization later on, I do need to pay my voluntary pensions contributions, for which I inquired the Rentenversicherung for paying as of 2016; and I'm actually due to pay it by this week! Until here everything is fine, although little expensive! A couple of days ago I finally stepped in the respective Einbürgerungsamt for the direct and updated information, where they said I'm not asked to contribute in any pensions! Although if paid once, include its receipt in the application file. 
So, to answer your question, yes! One does not necessarily need to pay into any private or public pension to get citizenship after 6 years without having a PR. About retaining the US citizenship, unfortunately can't help. And also you are right about change of any involved law. I'm somehow sure my gathered data is contradicting due to updates, which happened to be helpful in my case! Definitely you already know that different Bundeslands have slight diffrences in ideas and rules, so check it with the one you will apply in. 
 

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I also have a question and would be happy hearing others idea on it: 
Paying into this voluntary pensions for 5years is like a poor investment for my life after being retired! and if I somehow before completing the 5 years decide/can not to pay any more, I'm entitled for a refund after being 67 years old and proving that I haven't live in Germany since long!! Currently I'm not sure and have't plan if I want to stay whole my life here in Germany, that means once and if sure to do so, I'd start paying into a pension. But does it make sense that I pay (either whole 2016 or even half of it or so) only to strengthen my application, when it is certified that it is not needed? I mean contributing into pension is part of the German culture and a good sign of integration ;)
p.s: My 2016 contributions are due to on 19June! and I'm about to make a fast decision. 

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On 5/4/2017, 12:51:29, Zeitbuch said:

 

Great that you asked this question @Zeitbuch
Was wondering if you found an answer to this? :)

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Just an update that I asked this on info4alien- http://www.info4alien.de/cgi-bin/forum/YaBB.cgi?num=1508282925. Only one answer so far, but says that there doesn't seem to be any reason for the firm statement that a pension isn't required under section 10, but that in practice they seem to compare you to Germans of similar age and work situations, and also look at other assets available. Possibly good news for me as I'll be fairly young when I can apply, but definitely not a sure thing.

 

If anyone has tried to apply without a pension, or with less of a pension than is required for an NE, I'd really like to hear about it as it seems like this varies from case to case and maybe the only way to know is to learn about how they handle it in practice.

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I spoke to an immigration lawyer the other day who said that they definitely do check for pensions for citizenship applications and they absolutely want to see some sort of pension. But they are less strict than for permanent residence- there are no specific #s, no specific months paid, and what they look for varies more by age and profession. Mostly, they want to be sure you can support yourself, are doing some sort of saving for old age, and will be able to save enough to retire based on guesses about future income.

 

But there is no strict cutoff and they don't look for the same #s as for an NE. As I would be in my mid-20s when I'm eligible to apply, I was told that, say, 1.5-3 years of public pension contributions or paying 100 euros a month into a private pension for a couple years would probably be enough to prove that I am starting to build a sufficient pension. The pension is part of proving financial sustainability, so this is of course in combination with proving regular income that is enough to support myself (minimum: rent+health insurance+~400 euros).

 

They also said that savings and other assets don't count for much, it really needs to be a pension. Though possible again that what counts for a pension here may be less strict than, say, the Berlin Ausländerbehörde. If you have paid enough into social security in another country that you would have claims to payouts when you retire, that may also be sufficient or helpful.

 

If anyone has tried applying without a pension, or with a pension less than what is normally required for an NE, I'd really like to hear about how it goes in practice. The thresholds for pension for citizenship seem very subjective and I'd like to get some more concrete datapoints to see how it tends to work in practice.

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3 hours ago, kaffeemitmilch said:

I was asked for 3 years of pension contributions for naturalization, but NOT for my permanent residence application.

Yes, and I may be misremembering about your situation, but isn't this because you are naturalizing under § 9 rather than § 10 because you are the spouse of a German citizen? There is an explicit requirement for pension contributions under § 8 and § 9, but not § 10, but apparently something is still expected for § 10, just what is more flexible.

 

See 8.1.1.4 as well as 9.1, which says that 8.1.1.4 applies for section 9 naturalizations in the administrative notes for the law http://www.verwaltungsvorschriften-im-internet.de/bsvwvbund_13122000_V612400513.htm. There are no notes for section 10, however, so not clear if this applies there too.

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I checked with the local lawyer in Bonn and he said that my 3,5 years of contributions were more than enough. So, its not a very strict requirement. You can also directly ask the officers - they are usually quite open about it.

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