German Citizenship New Law 2024: A Quick Guide for Expats (Updated 28/03/2024)

January 22, 2024

Germany, a land known for its rich history, robust economy, and cultural diversity, has recently taken a significant stride in its immigration policy. With the introduction of the new German citizenship law in 2024, the Federal Government has laid down a progressive framework, making it easier for expatriates to call Germany their permanent home. This article delves into the intricacies of these changes, their implications for expats, and offers a practical guide for navigating the new system.

We'll go in to the expectations vs. realities of applying for German citizenship in detail later, but it's important to understand that even though the changes will likely be approved, the application process already ofter takes 1 or even 2 years to be approved. With the huge increase in applications, we don't expect the process itself to be any faster, so despite an application at 5 or 3 years, you might expect to waiting at least another 1 or 2 to get your shiny German passport.

What Are the New Laws?

The German Parliament has recently passed transformative legislation, marking a pivotal shift in the country’s approach to citizenship. This new german citizenship law 2024 eases several longstanding restrictions, making it more accessible for foreign nationals to gain German citizenship.

Are They in Action Yet? (Update: 28/03/2024)

As of the 28th March 2024, the Bundesverwaltungsamt issued this confirmation that the new German citizenship modernisation laws will be implemented in practice starting from the 26th June 2024. Now it's confirmed that the law is being put into place, and we have a date, applications are set to increase with the assurance that applicants can apply based upon the new criteria (see old vs new requirements section below).

Note that the full requirements and regulations are still being announced, but we have a date set for implementation, and those interested in pursuing a citizenship application should stay up to date with the new legislation by checking the BMI website. The full legislation has been published here.

Note that the current laws still apply until this date and the government has offered the following statement (translated into English):

The new law is intended to make multiple nationalities generally acceptable in future, meaning that the requirement for a retention permit in accordance with Section 25 of the German Citizenship Act will no longer apply when acquiring a foreign nationality from 26 June 2024. Anyone who acquires a foreign nationality after this law comes into force can then no longer lose their German citizenship.
Please note: The current law still applies.
If you acquire a foreign nationality, you will - still - lose your German citizenship if you have not previously been issued with a retention authorisation!
However, it may be easier and more economical for you to wait until the law comes into force on 26 June 2024 and only then apply for naturalisation in your country of residence.
However, if you are absolutely dependent on acquiring foreign nationality quickly (before the law comes into force), please contact me in advance for advice on how to apply and carry out the retention procedure.

Note that they specifically request that new applicants hoping to apply the new laws wait until the implementation date, implying that pre-submission before June 26th is not encouraged.

Old Requirements vs. New Requirements

The German citizenship law changes represent a significant easing of previous conditions. Under the old system, expats had to reside in Germany for at least eight years, demonstrate proficiency in the German language, and meet certain income requirements. The new german citizenship in 5 years new law reduces the residency requirement to five years, with a further reduction to three years for those showing exceptional integration measures.

Here is a comparison of the old and new requirements:

Current Requirements for German Citizenship

  • Residency: Minimum of 8 years of legal residence in Germany.
  • Language Proficiency: Demonstrate B1 level proficiency in the German language.
  • Integration: Evidence of integration into German society, such as employment and social involvement.
  • Financial Stability: Proof of financial independence, including adequate income and no reliance on social welfare (except in case of retirement or permanent incapacity to work).
  • Clean Criminal Record: No serious criminal convictions.
  • Citizenship Test: Passing a citizenship test covering German laws, society, and history.
  • Renunciation of Previous Citizenship: Generally required, except in certain cases (e.g., EU citizens or if renunciation is impossible).

New Proposed Requirements for German Citizenship (2024)

  • Residency: Reduced to 5 years, or 3 years with evidence of exceptional integration.
  • Language Proficiency: Maintained at B1 level.
  • Integration: Similar requirements for integration, potentially with more flexible criteria.
  • Financial Stability: Same requirements for financial independence.
  • Clean Criminal Record: Same requirement for no serious criminal convictions.
  • Citizenship Test: Continuation of the citizenship test.
  • Dual Citizenship: Allows for retention of original citizenship alongside German nationality.

Fast-Tracking Citizenship in 3 Years: Understanding the Requirements

Under the new German citizenship law of 2024, a significant and progressive change is the introduction of a fast-track option, allowing certain expats to obtain citizenship in just three years, compared to the standard five-year requirement.

To qualify for the three-year fast-track citizenship process, applicants must demonstrate exceptional integration into German society. This encompasses several key areas:

  • Advanced Language Proficiency: Applicants must exhibit a higher level of German language proficiency than the standard B1 requirement. This typically means achieving a B2 or C1 level, as defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), demonstrating a more in-depth understanding and use of the German language.
  • Cultural Integration: Evidence of a strong cultural integration is vital. This may include active participation in community events, volunteering activities, involvement in local clubs or associations, or other forms of civic engagement that show a deep connection and contribution to the local community.
  • Economic Contribution or Academic Achievement: Applicants should have a steady employment history in Germany or have made significant contributions to their field, either through academic achievements or professional excellence. This includes holding a stable job, running a successful business, or making notable academic or professional contributions in Germany.
  • Understanding of German Society and Legal System: A comprehensive understanding of German society, its values, and the legal system is crucial. This might be evidenced through additional education or training courses in German law, history, and culture.
  • Clean Criminal Record: As with the standard process, a clean criminal record is mandatory. Applicants must have no serious criminal convictions in Germany or their home country.
  • No Dependence on Social Welfare: Similar to the standard requirements, applicants must be financially independent, without reliance on social welfare benefits.

This is pure speculation, but it might be that the fast-track process is applied in a similar way to those who are able to apply for permanent residency from their Blue Card. The criteria are similar, with a slightly higher language requirement, and the government are likely to want to attract those with higher education skills and in stable employment.

New Rules on Dual Citizenship

One of the most notable changes is the relaxed stance on dual citizenship. Previously, acquiring German citizenship often meant renouncing one's original nationality. The new legislation, however, allows expatriates to retain their original citizenship, paving the way for a more inclusive approach to national identity.

Expectation vs. Reality of German Citizenship

While the new law is a positive development, it's crucial to set realistic expectations. The german naturalization processing time, particularly in cities like Berlin, can be lengthy. Expats might still find themselves waiting over a year for their citizenship to be processed, even after completing the required residency period.

Moreover, with the relaxation of dual citizenship rules, a surge in applications is anticipated, notably from Germany's substantial Turkish diaspora. This influx could lead to extended waiting times, further prolonging the process.

The new German citizenship law is a landmark development, offering expats in Germany a more accessible path to citizenship, especially with the inclusion of dual nationality. However, applicants should brace for potential delays in processing times. For those navigating this journey, We're ready to hep offering support as your guide, interpreter and coach throughout your journey to German citizenship.



  • DW Article on Dual Citizenship Law:
  • Al Jazeera News on Citizenship Law Changes: Al Jazeera
  • SE Legal's Overview of the German Citizenship Bill: SE-Legal

For further information on the draft of the new German law, please visit the official government website.

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