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Germany/Citizenship hopscotch through German immigration law


Hello Andreas,

I met my wife in South Africa while she was doing her praktikum at the same university I was studying. She is a Dutch citizen but she has been living in Germany for the last 6 years. For a variety of reasons we chose to move to Germany and get married here. We have been married for a year.

I can apply for Dutch citizenship in two years based on the fact that I am married to a Dutch citizen and we are both living in a country which is not our own. But to be honest, I would much rather want German citizenship. Moving here, starting over and learning German has been tought. It feels stupid to go through all this effort and then become a Dutch citizen.

My question: If my wife attains German citizenship in the next two years, since she meets all the criteria, will I be able to apply for German citizenship based on the fact that I am married to a German citizen even though she was not a German citizen when we got married? I don´t mind waiting another 6 years to apply for a citizenship through naturalization, but my South African passport is a limitation for us in terms of traveling and for me in terms of persuing employment and study opertunities. Having an EU passport will make things much much more simplier and easier for us, and we don´t want to wait another 6 or 7 years for it.

Yes, you will be able to apply for German citizenship.

You actually don't need to use your wife for that purpose at all because due to living in Germany, you can apply for German citizenship after 6 years if you speak German at B2 level and are well integrated.
The marriage may however shorten the required residence time. As a spouse of a German citizen (as your wife would be once she gets naturalized), you may apply for naturalization after living in Germany for 3 years, but Nr. VV-StAG requires that the German spouse has had German citizenship for 2 years by the time you apply.

If I was you, I would go for Dutch citizenship if you can do so earlier because applying for Dutch citizenship does not preclude your option of applying for German citizenship later. Germany would not ask you to give up your Dutch citizenship (but you would be required to renounce your South African citizenship). Therefore the two European citizenships do not need to be seen as a mutually exclusive alternative.

Andreas Moser  


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Andreas Moser


German history, politics, law, business, culture, everyday life.


I am German. I was born in Germany and lived there for 33 years. I studied law in Germany and practised as a lawyer for 7 years.

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Law Degree: Universität Regensburg MA Philosophy: Open University (ongoing) BSc Development & Economics: LSE (ongoing)

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