From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
A significant reform to the nationality law was passed by the Bundestag (the German parliament) in 1999, and came into force on 1 January 2000. The new law makes it somewhat easier for foreigners resident in Germany on a long-term basis, and especially their German-born children, to acquire German citizenship.
The previous German nationality law dated from 1913. The law was amended by the Nazi regime (see Nuremberg Laws), and these amendments were revoked by Allied occupational ordinance in 1945. Germany has ratified the European Convention on Nationality, which came into force in Germany on 1 September 2005. All German nationals are automatically also citizens of the European Union.
Before the formation of the German Empire in 1871, each German state had its own nationality laws, those of the southern ones (notably Bavaria) being quite liberal. Prussia's nationality law can be traced back to the "Law Respecting the Acquisition and Loss of the Quality as a Prussian subject, and his Admission to Foreign Citizenship" of 31 December 1842, which was based on the principle of jus sanguinis. Prussian law became the basis of the legal system of the German Empire, though the state nationality laws continued to apply, and a German citizen was a person who held citizenship of one of the states of the German Empire.
On 22 July 1913, the Nationality Law of the German Empire and States (Reichs- und Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz, shorthand: RuStAG) established a German citizenship, either derived from the citizenship of one of the component states or acquired through the central Reich government.
Under the Third Reich, in 1934, the German nationality law was amended to abolish separate state citizenships and creating a uniform Reich citizenship, with the central Reich authorities having power to naturalise or denaturalise persons. In 1935, the Reich Citizenship Law (Reichsbürgergesetz), the second of the Nuremberg Laws, created a new category called "state subjects" (Staatsangehörige) to which Jews were assigned, thereby withdrawing citizenship from previous Jewish citizens. Only "Aryans" retained Reich citizenship.
In 13 March 1938, the German nationality law was extended to Austria following the Anschluss which annexed Austria to Germany. On 27 April 1945 Austria was re-established and conferred Austrian citizenship on all persons who would have been Austrian on that date had the former (pre-1938) nationality law of Austria remained in force. Such persons lost their German nationality automatically. Also see Austrian nationality law.
The Nazi amendments of 1934 and the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were revoked by Allied occupational ordinance in 1945, restoring the 1913 nationality law. That law was operational until the 1999 reforms.
Article 116(1) of the German Basic Law (constitution) confers, within the confines of the laws regulating the details, a right to citizenship upon any person who is admitted to Germany (in its 1937 borders) as "refugee or expellee of German ethnic origin or as the spouse or descendant of such a person." At one time, ethnic Germans living abroad in a country in the former Eastern Bloc (Aussiedler) could obtain citizenship through a virtually automatic procedure. Since 1990 the law has been steadily tightened to limit the number of immigrants each year. It now requires immigrants to prove language skills and cultural affiliation.
Article 116(2) entitles persons (and their descendants), who were denaturalised by the Nazi government, to be renaturalised if they wish. Those among them, who after May 8, 1945 take up residence in Germany are automatically considered German citizens. Both regulations, (1) and (2), provided for a considerable numbers of Poles and Israelis, residing in Poland and Israel, to be concurrently German citizens.
Children born on or after 1 January 2000 to non-German parents acquire German citizenship at birth if at least one parent:
Such children will be required to apply to retain German citizenship by the age of 23. Assuming this law is not changed or overturned by a court, these persons will normally be required to prove they do not hold any other foreign citizenship. The only exceptions are EU citizens and citizens of countries where it is impossible to lose your citizenship, like Morocco, Nigeria or Iran, for example.
Parents who are citizens of European Economic Area states or Switzerland are eligible to receive permanent resident permits after five years.
A person born of a parent with German citizenship at the time of the child's birth is a German citizen. Place of birth is not a factor in citizenship determination based on parentage.
Persons who are Germans on the basis of descent from a German parent do not have to apply to retain German citizenship by age 23. If they acquire another citizenship at birth, they can usually continue to hold this.
A child adopted by a German citizen becomes German national automatically if aged less than 18 on the date the application for adoption was made. So dual citizenship is granted.
An individual who fulfils all of the following criteria has an entitlement to naturalise as a German citizen:
An individual who does not have legal capacity is entitled to naturalise as a German citizen merely through ordinary residence in Germany for at least 8 years - he/she does not have to fulfil the other criteria (e.g. adequate command of the German language and ability to be self-supporting without recourse to benefits).
Applicants for naturalisation are normally expected to prove they have renounced their existing nationality, or will lose this automatically upon naturalisation. An exception applies to those unable to give up their nationality easily (such as refugees). A further exception applies to citizens of Switzerland and the European Union member states.
An individual who is entitled to naturalise as a German citizen can also apply for his/her spouse and minor children to be naturalised at the same time (his/her spouse and minor children need not have ordinarily resided in Germany for at least 8 years).
Exceptions to the normal residence requirements include:
An individual who is ordinarily resident outside may be naturalised as a German citizen if he/she can demonstrate sufficient ties with Germany which justify his/her naturalisation.
Under Article 116 (2) Basic Law, some people who lost German citizenship under the Nazi regime may be eligible for naturalisation without requiring residence in Germany or renunciation of their existing citizenship. Descendants of such persons may also be eligible for German citizenship.
Under transitional arrangements in the 1999 reforms (effective 1 January 2000), children who were born in Germany in 1990 or later, and would have been German had the law change been in force at the time, were entitled to be naturalised as German citizens.
Between 1995 and 2004, 1,278,424 people have obtained German citizenship by naturalization. This means that about 1.5% of the total German population had been naturalized during that period.
|Serbia and Montenegro||3,623||2,967||2,244||2,721||3,444||9,776||12,000||8,375||5,504||3,539||6,309||6,085|
|Total (including countries not mentioned)||71,981||86,356||82,913||106,790||143,267||186,688||178,098||154,547||140,731||127,153||106,897||112,348|
German citizenship is automatically lost when a German citizen voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another country, except:
Other cases where German citizenship can be lost include:
Allowed under following circumstances:
Germans living abroad, (aka German emigrants or Auslandsdeutsche), are German citizens residing outside of Germany. German emigrants usually do not pay taxes to Germany. Germans abroad are allowed to vote in the Republic's federal elections (general elections). According to the German Foreign Office in Berlin (Auswärtiges Amt), "German citizens with permanent residence abroad can participate in federal elections in Germany and European elections. As a rule, German voters who reside permanently in non-EU countries abroad and are not resident in Germany any more, cannot participate in German state and local elections. However, German citizens who are living permanently in other EU countries can vote in municipal elections of their country of residence." http://www.konsularinfo.diplo.de/Vertretung/konsularinfo/de/06/Wahl/Wahlneu.html
The German term Auslandsdeutsche is sometimes used in this sense, but it is also used subjectively to refer to ethnic Germans and German-speaking communities abroad. In order to be unambiguous when speaking German and talking about German emigrants, it is necessary to specify "German citizens with permanent residence abroad" (Deutsche Staatsbürger mit ständigem Wohnsitz im Ausland).
The case is complicated by the German right of return law concerning Spätaussiedler, people who do not have German citizenship but who are in theory entitled to it because the German state considers them German nationals.
Significant communities of German citizens abroad are found in the following countries:
USA: Large numbers of German citizens live permanently in the U.S., especially academics, artists, computer experts, engineers, and business people. According to the German Missions in the US, “German citizens living abroad are not required to register with the German Embassy, so we are unable to say how many German citizens live in America.” http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/02__GIC/GIC/02/f__a__q__seite.html Some of those Germans abroad hold passports from both Germany and the United States.