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German citizenship For Members

EXPLAINED: How to get a speedy response on your German citizenship application

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: How to get a speedy response on your German citizenship application
Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. German citizenship applicants in the capital face long waits - but there's ways to speed it up. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jonathan Penschek

Many foreigners in Germany eagerly anticipating the late June arrival of new rules allowing dual citizenship are simultaneously dreading the long wait times they’re expected to see their applications processed. But there is a way to increase your odds for a speedy response. Here’s how.

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It’s not when you file your German citizenship application. It’s how you file it that counts.

That’s the opinion of Andreas Moser – a Chemnitz-based immigration and family lawyer who runs a popular blog about German citizenship and other legal matters he works on.

“The most important thing is to only apply when you’ve met all the conditions, have all the paperwork, and you can present it in one folder,” he told The Local.

Moser recommends including a cover letter that explains anything in your application that authorities might flag as abnormal. For example, these might include gaps in your employment history or if your children are included in your application but have a different last name to you.

He also suggests that you include a numbered index for all your documents and for them to be neatly organised in a paper or electronic folder. If applying online, he recommends making sure your documents are as neatly scanned and labeled as possible – saved as PDFs.

Sounds simple? Well, many applicants still don’t do it, according to Moser.

“The stuff I see is crazy sometimes,” he said. “People take upside-down photos late at night with terrible shadows cast, with all the crap on the table underneath and save the file name as something like ‘Photo 743.’ They’ll attach 20 files like that.”

Something else Moser often notices is people who send their employment contracts as eight separate files, for example, as opposed to scanning and saving the entire contract as one file that you can easily label and organise.

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“That’s going to take longer and slows down the process – and when the person at the immigration office opens this, they might just close it again and think ‘okay, I’ll do that later,’” Moser says. “For example, if they work until 4 in the afternoon and they get to 3 pm and still have one hour – they’re going to take an easy case. So if there’s a nice cover letter and everything is there and neatly presented – they’ll pick that file.”

Moser says one of the most common misconceptions he sees is people thinking citizenship applications will be processed in the order they’re received. In reality, some caseworkers may dedicate whole days to processing applications from applicants of one nationality – as many of the files they’ll see will be the same for all the applicants they look at that day, speeding up their work.

Spending some time to put together a well-organised and well-presented application can also pay off in big ways.

“I’ve had clients who’ve done it like that and they sometimes get their citizenship – even in busy offices like Munich – in three months,” says Moser, adding that someone who applies on June 26th – the day the new rules come into effect – but is missing information, is likely to get their citizenship later than someone who might apply months later – but has everything in order.

READ ALSO: Elation and worry as German citizenship law passes final hurdle

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Easier application process

Germany’s new nationality law, which the Federal President recently signed into law after passing the Bundestag and Bundesrat earlier this year, takes effect on June 27th. Among many measures to liberalise nationality law, it allows dual citizenship for non-EU nationals and shortens the amount of time someone needs to have been resident in Germany before taking citizenship from eight years to five.

Authorities are expecting more applications, as many people who’ve been resident for decades finally apply for German citizenship as they can soon keep their original passport.

But Moser says the applications themselves should become easier for authorities to process – even if the volume gets higher. That’s because the process to acquire German citizenship but keep an applicant’s original citizenship was often the most complicated step. Now that it will soon no longer be necessary, Moser estimates many individual applications to speed up.

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Editor's note: We amended the implementation date for German citizenship from June 26th to June 27th 2024 after confirmation from the German government on May 16th. 

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Alex Laurens 2024/04/03 20:59
I applied for citizenship 2 years ago (March 2022). In April 2022 I had a letter advising my application would not be reviewed before any refugee applications, as these would be given preference. I got a 2nd letter in August 2023 advising my application was being reviewed. I got a 3rd letter last week asking me to resubmit some of the same documents I submitted in my original application. I don't believe for one minute that this process can be completed in 3 months.

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