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German Law/Residence permit in Germany


QUESTION: Dear Andreas,

I have been working in Germany for a little under 5 years, and soon I will be eligible to apply for a settlement permit. However, I already hold a settlement permit for a different country (i.e. not my county of citizenship). According to Sec 51 of the German AufentG, I don't see the fact that I hold a settlement permit for a different country (in which I dont live in actually) a problem. Am I correct? Or will I have to explicitly renounce the current settlement permit before applying for the German one?

Thank you.

ANSWER: Hello Jon,

you are absolutely correct.

The existence of another settlement permit is not a problem and poses no obstacle. Also, Germany could not remove this settlement permit because it has no jurisdiction over it.

It is up to the laws of the country which issued the settlement permit to decide whether your permit remains valid under these circumstances.

Alles Gute!

Andreas Moser

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QUESTION: Danke Andreas fuer die schlagfertige Antwort. I do have another question if I may please.

I am a little confused when it comes to the time needed before one is eligible for citizenship in Germany. Normally, from what I gather, a period of stay of 8 years is necessary (study period counts as half). However, I have come across people who have been eligible after 5 years. They are academics, having obtained their doctorates in Germany, and continued to work in Germany thereafter. They held a work permit for the whole period (AufentG section 18). No marriage whatsoever is applicable here.

Is the 8 year period more of a guideline for eligibility of citizenship through employment?

Schoene Gruesse,

Hello Jon,

The 8 years of residence are the standard requirement for naturalization in Germany.

However, this gets reduced to 7 years if you pass the "Integrationskurs" and can get reduced to 6 years if your German language level is at B2 (instead of B1). With exceptional integration, the residence requirement may get reduced further. Academic involvement may well count as exceptional integration, especially if the PhD was obtained in German instead of in an English-language programme, but then depending on your job, your work may count as well.

By the way, study periods count fully! Only a few of the German states do not count them, but in such a case it makes sense to move to some of the other states to apply for naturalization there. You can still move back after you will have obtained German citizenship.

For more on German citizenship law, please see my FAQ: and my infographic:


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Andreas Moser


Extensive experience in international family law, especially international child abductions and child custody cases. All other areas of German law as well: constitutional law, criminal law, business and contract law, immigration law, inheritance law, and so on.


Lawyer in Germany from 2002 to 2009. Lawyer for US Army JAG Corps before. Bar-certified specialisation in family law and in administrative law. Articles and lectures about international and domestic family law.


2000 Law Degree from University of Regensburg, Germany 2002 admitted to the bar (until 2009) 2013 MA Philosophy at the Open University, UK

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