German Law/Naturalization Through a German Mother
QUESTION: Hello Andreas
I looked at some earlier replies you had provided on this. My understanding is that I would qualify for German citizenship based on the following
1. I was born to a German Mother and US Father outside of Germany in 1970. I obtained US citizenship through my father but my mother never applied for German citizenship for me and only learned that the documents were required after the 1975 time period had ended.
2. My mother is still a German citizen but lives in the US
3. I have worked in Germany as a student and have worked for 14 years with German companies outside of Germany
4. I have US Healthcare and Pension(401K) plans but am still approx 20+ years away from retirement
5. I am fluent in spoken German but have very rudimentary written German
6 I travel regularly to Germany for work and for family (4+ times a year)
7 I have immediate family (Aunts and Uncles) living in Germany
I currently work for a larger German company in their US office and have been offered positions in Germany. I would like to start the naturalization process to help facilitate any future moves to Germany.
My questions are as follows
1. Will I still be required to take a German fluency test? If so any advice on how difficult it is? It has been many years since I have had to write in German.
2. I have two young children (under the age of 4) can I include them in the naturalization process? They are not fluent in German
3. Will I be able to retain my US citizenship
4. Is this type of naturalization something that any large global organizations HR/visa department would be well equipped to handle or should I retain outside help?
5. What other documentation would be beneficial (mother voting record etc)
6. How do I get started go to the German consulate or should I go to the German embassy in New York (I live in Massachusetts)
Thanks for your replies
ANSWER: Hello Conrad,
first of all, thank you very much for your donation!
You fall under the special category of people who did not receive German citizenship at birth because prior to 1975, only German fathers could pass on German citizenship. In order to rectify this past discrimination, there is now the possibility to apply for naturalization from abroad. While this naturalization process is a bit easier in some points than the regular naturalization for foreigners who live in Germany, it's still up to the discretion of the German authorities whom they will naturalize or not.
Keeping that in mind, the answers to your specific questions:
1) Yes. The language requirement is the most important factor in the decision about a naturalization. The level which is required is C1, which is almost fluency, including in writing. Here is a sample test: http://www.goethe.de/lrn/prj/pba/bes/gc1/mat/deindex.htm
It's quite a high level, although you only need to pass it, not ace it. And if you are fluent in spoken German, you won't really need to learn that much, it will be more like practice. But possibly lots of it and over a long time. The advantage to this type of naturalization is that there is no time limit to it, so you can work on the language and take some sample tests and you will only apply once you are ready. You can also re-take the test as often as you want and only submit the result you want to the consulate.
2) Yes, you can include your minor children.
For them, the language requirement is that "they can communicate orally in everyday situations without any problems". There is no formal test requirement and evidence is usually provided by a statement from a German kindergarten or a German school. Alternatively, the consular official might want to talk to your children to see how well they speak.
3) Yes. This is one of the elements where this kind of naturalization differs from regular German naturalization. There is no requirement to give up any other citizenship(s).
4) I don't think you need any help with it, really. Everything is explained in this leaflet: http://www.bva.bund.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/BVA/Staatsangeh%C3%B6rigkeit/Erme
and the main factor will be your language skills.
5) Except proof of your mother's German citizenship at the time of your birth, you don't need to include anything about your mother. But you should write a personal statement in which you detail your ties to Germany, how often you visited, how you keep the language alive, what memories you have, your emotional bond. This should be a well-rounded compelling narrative.
6) You need to apply at the consulate in Boston, but really the first thing to do is to aim for the C1 certificate. There is no point in applying or starting the process until you have that language certificate.
Because you mentioned that you are planning to move to Germany, I should add that this process usually takes between 1 and 2 years, mainly due to the backlog of cases. Of course you can always get a work-related visa to move to Germany as well. Ironically, once you live in Germany, you cannot use this naturalization route because it's only open to applicants residing abroad. Of course you could always go on the normal naturalization process in Germany, but that would require you to give up US citizenship.
So if you want to go to Germany for a few years, it might actually make sense to go first, use the time to get your and your children's German to fluency and then apply for German citizenship once you return to the US.
All the best!
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Hello Andreas
Thank you for your answer. Can I ask a follow up question on the language requirements? I was under the impression that the requirements for naturalization was B1. Has this changed (or was I mistaken) that it needs to be C1. A quick look at the test differences between them does show a very large jump competencies with the German language (I felt comfortable that I could tackle the B1 myself with some home practice but C1 would definitely require me to take some school courses).
Thanks for all the other information
B1 is the minimum requirement for naturalization for people who live IN Germany.
But you would apply under § 14 StAG which is a discretionary naturalization granted to people living OUTSIDE of Germany. In this case, C1 is the standard requirement (see the document linked to in no. 4 of my first answer).
I know that C1 is quite high, but I am not sure it would require courses if you already speak German fluently. It may require a lot of time, practice and dedication, though.