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German citizenship For Members

Who qualifies for 'special integration' status under Germany's citizenship law?

Paul Krantz
Paul Krantz - [email protected]
Who qualifies for 'special integration' status under Germany's citizenship law?
A volunteers brings food to the elderly. Volunteer engagement will help an application for fast-track citizenship under Germany's upcoming nationality law. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Felix Kästle

Under Germany's new citizenship law, foreign nationals can apply for citizenship after five years of residence, or just three years for those who achieve 'special integration'. But what exactly qualifies you for that status?

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The long-awaited citizenship law reform has cleared the parliamentary process, and is expected to be officially signed into law in the coming weeks, to take effect sometime in spring.

According to the new law, residency requirements will be reduced, allowing foreigners to apply for German citizenship after five years in Germany.

Additionally, some applicants may qualify for a fast track to citizenship, allowing them to apply after three years in the country, if they can demonstrate a high level of integration. 

READ ALSO: Germany's landmark dual citizenship law passes final vote

Some have suggested that a high level of integration essentially means speaking C1 level German. But looking closer at the draft law and official online resources, there is reason to believe that qualifying for the fast-track to citizenship will take a little more effort than that.

Who qualifies for special integration status?

According to the draft bill, the expedited citizenship process may be applied to those who have "successfully made special efforts to integrate into the living conditions in Germany."

The draft law suggests that these efforts can be verified by "proof of particularly good academic, vocational or professional performance or of civic commitment" and command of German language that meets C1 level requirements.

So while a strong command of German will help your case, it may not be enough to cinch the special status.

Beyond the C1 language level requirement, applicants aiming for the three-year citizenship track will likely need to demonstrate additional efforts they’ve made to integrate.

Under the upcoming citizenship law, C1 German is required for fast-track citizenship. But applicants will still have to demonstrate special integration beyond their language level. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Jens Kalaene

In addition to language proficiency, applicants may need to complete German integration courses to qualify. Demonstrating certain work achievements, such as holding full time employment in Germany for some time, may also help.

Ultimately, whether or not you qualify for a fast-tracked citizenship application will likely come down to a decision by Germany's Immigration Office (Landesamt für Einwanderung). But completing an integration course or education program, achieving a higher German language proficiency level, and securing stable employment will all improve your chances.

Regular volunteering with German charity organisations or exceptional professional achievements will also help your case.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS - What you need to know about Germany's citizenship law reform

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Berlin’s citizenship application service portal explains that prospective citizens are expected to “know the rules by which people in Germany live together.”

Currently this can be demonstrated by passing a naturalisation test, obtaining a certificate of completion from a German school, or achieving a degree in law, social sciences, social or political sciences, or administrative sciences from a German university. These same achievements will likely be helpful under the new citizenship process as well.

For more information about the naturalisation process see the National Office for Immigration's website.

READ ALSO: What's the difference between B2 and C1 German for new fast-track citizenship?

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M 2024/02/09 21:07
Would love more concrete details about this. What counts as volunteering?

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