Citizenship

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  • Topic: Law, Nationality law, Germany
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Citizenship

Re-Acquisition of German Citizenship by former German Citizens

Summary and Comment

by Frederick S. Wyle and Daniel Eichmann

This comment is based upon a more detailed paper on this subject (in German) by Daniel Eichmann, a German lawyer visiting in the United States. It does not deal with the re-acquisition or re-recognition of German citizenship that was lost by reason of NAZI laws between 1933 and 1945, laws which were declared void and illegal by the German Constitution of 1949. That subject is dealt with in a separate paper by Frederick S. Wyle, Sabine Siehr and Daniel Eichmann.

The most likely situation to which the instant comment applies is that of German citizens who married Americans (or other non-German nationals), acquired American (or other) citizenship, lost German citizenship on that account, and now wish to re-acquire German citizenship.

The New German Citizenship Act of Dec. 31, 1999

[Note : German law on citizenship consists of the l949 Constitution, statutes on citizenship (“STAG”), and "administrative instructions" (“ADMIN”), as referred to below.]

German laws on nationality, along with most laws around the world, disfavor dual citizenship. Global mobility, however, has begun to undermine this position in many countries, including both the US and Germany. The previous severe restrictions on dual citizenship in German law were modified on Dec. 31, 1999, when the former "Reichs Citizenship Act" [Reichs- und Staatsangehoerigkeitsgesetz] of 1913 was replaced by the more simply titled "Citizenship Act" [ Staatsangehoerigkeitsgesetz, or STAG].

The principal changes were the following:

*Children born in Germany to legal foreign resident parents, one of whom has such for at least 8 years, generally now obtain German citizenship at birth (#4 Abs, 3 STAG ). This is a major change in German law based on the "ius sanguinis", which made the citizenship of the parents determinative of the citizenship of children. At the age of 18, and no later than at the age of 23, such German-born children now have to choose between German citizenship and the citizenship of their parents (assuming that the country of their parents' citizenship would extend the choice to them). ( # 29 STAG).

*Foreigners legally resident in Germany for 8 years or longer are entitled to acquire German citizenship if they meet the conditions of loyalty to the German Constitution, legal residence permit, financial independence, lack of criminal record, and the abandonment of other citizenship.(#85 Auslaendergesetz (“AuslG”))

*Despite the continuing general disfavorment of dual citizenship, dual citizenship is now possible, upon a showing that abandonment of the other citizenship would result in financial or economic burdens or hardships, especially in the case of elderly applicants [See conditions in #87 STAG]. The acceptance of dual citizenship is a matter of discretion by the German Ministry of the Interior on a case by case basis. [At the local level, this means the Einbuergerungsbehoerde (Immigration Office), which is generally part of the Einwohneramt (Domestic Affairs Office) at the City or County level of government, with a potential administrative appeal to the Innenresort (Ministry of the Interior).]

Where the application for retention of a foreign citizenship is made by an applicant who is a former German citizen, giving up the foreign citizenship remains the rule, but discretion to make exceptions remains with the German Interior Ministry. Former German citizens desiring to re-acquire German citizenship are also subject to a lesser period of residence than other foreigners, and proof of ability to cope with life in Germany is more easily proven.

Loss of Citizenship Under German Law

Loss of citizenship occurs as...
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