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Dual Citizenship for German Nationals

16th June 2010
By Gherson in Immigration Law
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A significant change which occurred on 28 August 2007 in German Immigration law, has received little media coverage but could positively affect many. This change in the immigration law principally allows citizens from EU member states to retain their passports when adopting German nationality, and for German citizens to retain their passports when taking on the citizenship of another European Union member state.

Receiving little media attention, it is a concern that many German nationals are not aware of these benefits that they are now entitled to after the changes in German immigration law, which took effect almost three years ago.

Prior to the reforms, German citizens who applied for and acquired citizenship of another European Union member state or of Switzerland effectively relinquished their right to German citizenship and had to forfeit their German passports. This was subject to the opportunity to apply, prior to their citizenship application and for a fee, for permission to retain their German passport. However, since the change in law in August 2007, a German national will no longer lose their German citizenship if he or she acquires the citizenship of another European Union member state or of Switzerland, whether by application or naturalisation.

Equally, a European Union member state national or a national of Switzerland can now apply for German citizenship without having to give up his or her member state passport. It is thought that this change could strongly impact on Swiss-German relations, as Switzerland remains a popular destination for German immigrants.

Since these changes came into force there has been an increase in the number of people applying for German citizenship. This increase has not however been sizeable, as citizens of non-EU member states are still required to forfeit their nationality when applying for a German passport, as are German nationals applying for the citizenship of countries outside of the EU and Switzerland. Formal permission from the German government to retain your German nationality ('Beilbehaltunsgenehmigung') can still be sought for those who wish to become nationals of non-EU countries.

It is important to be aware that these changes are applicable only to those who applied for another citizenship after the changes took effect, and not to those who made applications for the citizenship of another European Union member state prior to 28 August 2007.

Any German nationals who wish to lodge applications for British citizenship are advised to seek professional legal advice. Gherson's team of immigration solicitors and paralegals are ideally placed to provide advice on this dual citizenship for German nationals and any other issues relating to immigration law.
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