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German Law/A question about German naturalization law


QUESTION: Dear Andreas

I found out about you from your happy hermit blog. I hope you can give me a little advice regarding my situation in Germany. For the past five years, I have worked and lived in Germany as a doctorate student, and I have the option to continue working in Germany as a researcher.
My question is Do my years as a doctorate student( being employed at a 50% job, as most PhDs are in Germany) count towards the 8 years which I need to apply for German citizenship?

thank you in advance


ANSWER: Hello Milad,

yes, your time spent as a student in Germany do count towards the residence requirement. Only the state of Bavaria has been applying the rules differently, counting student time only at 50%. All other 15 states count it fully.

You can actually reduce the 8-year residence requirement: if you pass the citizenship test and the German language test at B1 level, it will be reduced to 7 years, and if you pass German at B2 level and show some more indications of integration (like activity in sports or political or social or environmental activities) it may be reduced to 6 years.

So if your German is good (or if you can get it to a high level within a year), you could apply in a year from now, depending on the type of visa that you will have by then.

All the best!

Andreas Moser

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QUESTION: Hi Andreas

Thank a lot for your answer. I have a follow up question about the same matter. I cam across this document "Act on the Residence, Economic Activity and Integration of Foreigners in the Federal Territory". at this address:

Under section 9.4.3 it mentions " Half of the period of lawful stay for the purposes of study or vocational training in the federal territory" counts towards the periods of possession of a residence permit which are necessary in order to qualify for issuance of a settlement permit. I am not sure whether this applies to my time as a working PhD student. Could you please let me know what you think.

Thank you in advance

ANSWER: First of all, it's really important to differentiate two different laws: we were speaking about citizenship, and the law you quoted is the Immigration (not the Naturalization) Act. These are two completely different matters.

9 IV Nr. 3 AufenthG governs the requirements for a permanent residence permit ("Niederlassungserlaubnis").

The answer to your question then depends on what kind of visa you had during your stay.

Andreas Moser

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: You are absolutely right, seems like I have mixed up the two things. I have had a non-permanent resident permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) . I have a work permit that says: "Gilt nur fuer eine wissenschaftliche Taetikeit als Doktorand". There is no information on the permit itself that specifies whether it was issued for studying or for working. I assume it is likely that it is for studying.

As I understand it, I need a permanent residence permit to be able to apply for citizenship. If I have had a residence permit for studying, I will not be able to get it at this point. Am I correct in my conclusion?


Your residence permit should list one or more sections of the AufenthG. If you look up these, they will tell you the exact legal nature of your residence permit.

You do not need a "Niederlassungserlaubnis" to be able to apply for naturalization, although the "Niederlassungserlaubnis" is one of the types of residence permits that entitles you to do so. The exact requirements are listed in 10 I Nr. 2 StAG.

But when looking at these requirements, you should also keep in mind that you still have to wait between 1 and 3 years, depending on your language skills, to meet the residency requirement. The nature and duration of your residence permit could of course change by then.

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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