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German Law/Naturalization process


QUESTION: Dear Andreas, my husband has submitted a request for naturalization to German embassy, based on the fact that his parents are german citizens. Here is the short story: my husband and his parents were born in Russia, but the father has german roots and was classified as Aussiedler, which gave him the right to apply for german citizenship. My husband was minor and was included in the application, but by the time they got "green light" for moving to Germany (in year 2004), my husband already wasn't living with his parents. He already was living in Israel (after our marriage), and currently holds an Israeli citizenship, so he hasn't went to Germany together with the parents.
Now by the time we wait for german authorities to reply on the naturalization request, the question came in - if he will be granted the german citizenship, does it mean that he has to move to Germany and live there for certain period? I understand that our children might have the german citizenship automatically, but does it mean that I am, as a spouse, will not be entitled for the citizenship, unless I stay with him on german territory for at least 3 years?
Many thanks in advance

ANSWER: Shalom!

1) Receiving German citizenship does not include any obligation to move to or live in Germany.

2) Because you are not related to your husband's parents, you will not become a German citizen through this process.
If you wish to acquire German citizenship, you have two options:
a) Living with your husband in Germany for 3 years, as you mentioned.
b) If you can prove very close ties to Germany, there is the option of becoming naturalized as a German citizen from abroad. You find more details here:
In both cases, passing the German language test is one of the requirements that cannot be waived.

Andreas Moser

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QUESTION: Dear Andreas, first of all thanks a lot for your prompt reply. I have one additional question: if my husband receives the German citizenship, he will get the Ausweis, right? And what about Reisepass (which enables him to travel outside of Europe)? If he will waive his Israeli citizenship, he will lose the Israeli passport and will not be able to travel abroad, so the question is whether Reisepass is granted at the same moment of citizenship approval, or there is a waiting period or other criteria to be met, to become entitled for receiving this document for "newly naturalized" ones?
Thank you, Juli

Actually, with the naturalization, one does usually neither receive the ID card ("Ausweis") nor the passport. One receives a certificate of citizenship. With that paper, he can then apply for ID card and/or passport right away. He does not need to be in Germany for that, he can for example apply at the German Embassy/Consulate in Tel Aviv.

There is no waiting period, so he can apply for it right away, but there is sometimes a backlog at the printing place place in Germany and then the passport will need to be shipped to Israel, so it might take a few weeks. When I last applied for a German passport abroad, it took less than one month and that was even over the Christmas period. Usually, June/July are busiest because of all the applications by people who go on summer holiday and realize that their old passports are expired.
Lastly, there is also the option of getting an emergency passport which the Consulate can issue itself. This will only be valid for one year (while regular German passports are valid for 10 years), but the Consulate can issue it right away. However, these passports do not permit the holder to travel to the USA without a visa because it does not store the same amount of electronic information as the regular passport. They are however good for travel to almost everywhere else (including to Israel, based on my own experience).

One thing about dual citizenship:
If your husband is applying for German citizenship by descent, he does not need to waive his Israeli citizenship (or any other citizenships that he holds). If he applies for naturalization, he would usually be requested to waive all non-EU citizenships that he holds. However, if he has good reasons, he could ask for permission to keep all or some of his existing citizenships.

Andreas Moser

German Law

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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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