At a Glance
- The German Federal Ministry of the Interior has created an easier citizenship path for foreign nationals whose ancestors lost German citizenship due to Nazi persecution.
- The new route benefits victims of Nazi prosecution who were previously German citizens but left Germany between January 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945 and naturalized in another country due to Nazi persecution.
- Foreign nationals eligible under this route can retain their existing nationality once they have obtained or reinstated their German nationality, whereas Germany does not generally allow dual nationality.
The German Federal Ministry of the Interior has passed two comprehensive decrees to ease the citizenship process for descendants of people who lost German citizenship due to Nazi persecution. The decrees are effective immediately.
A closer look
- Expansion details. The German Constitution grants former German citizens who were deprived of their citizenship between January 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945 due to Nazi injustice and their descendants a claim to restoration of their citizenship. However, the new decree also applies to victims of prosecution who left Germany and were naturalized in another country, thereby losing their German citizenship.
- Descendants of former German mothers. The decree also expands citizenship to descendants of women who fled Nazi Germany and lost their citizenship after marrying non-German men.
- Language skills. To be eligible for the status, foreign nationals must prove beginner German language skills and other general application requirements, such as basic knowledge of German society.
- Application details. Applications are available by appointment at German consular posts and require the applicant to present documents evidencing their German history. The application is free of charge.
- Retention of current citizenship. Foreign nationals eligible under this route can retain their existing nationality once they obtain or reinstate their German nationality, whereas Germany does not generally allow dual nationality.
- More favorable review. The decree confirms that these citizenship applications will be reviewed more favorably compared to normal citizenship applications since the language requirements are much easier to meet and there are no integration requirements. Therefore, foreign nationals who have had their citizenship restoration applications rejected in the past may now be eligible for the new application.
The German constitution provides descendants of those who were deprived of their citizenship by Nazi Germany the right to have their German citizenship reinstated. However, concern has grown in recent decades as thousands of cases have seen applications refused, most commonly because emigrants lost their German citizenship by naturalizing in another country or in the case of female German emigrants, who married non-German citizens.
In recent years, applications have increased as thousands of descendants exercised their right to apply for German citizenship following the United Kingdom's vote to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum.
Fragomen expects a rise in applications to restore German citizenship, as many applicants who were previously ineligible will be able to re-submit a new application. In particular, demand for German nationality from UK nationals who wish to retain EU citizenship following the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union is likely to increase.
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