American pursuing Dual Citizenship / German Passport during COVID-19
July 15, 2020 7:53 AM   Subscribe

American German consulate is closed only for emergency requests. Is it possible for an American to pursue German citizenship at this time? Are there any paid reputable services that can help?

A search of previous Asks show that pursuing German citizenship as an American is tricky given that Germany does not prefer dual citizenship. But also some Asks reveal that dual citizenship (American / German) does indeed exist. Has anyone used or heard of a reputable service that can help determine if dual citizenship is possible and help coordinate the effort for a paid fee? The person applying is not Jewish, but their mother is a German-born citizen. Application may be tricky because parents are deceased and identity documents are missing.
posted by cardamom to Law & Government (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
but their mother is a German-born citizen

I can't help regarding locating an immigration attorney that can assist, but I can offer two side questions that may shortcut your work: 1) when was the person born and 2) was the father a German citizen?

If #1 is "before 1 Jan 1975" and 2 is "no", you may be out of luck.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:26 AM on July 15, 2020

I am an American Citizen. My wife (born after 1975) just secured dual German/American citizenship about four years ago, and both my children are dual German/American citizens. It's our experience that the only thing the Germans require is justification on why one needs to maintain Daul Citizen status. MeFi mail me and I might be able to offer some help.
posted by Master Gunner at 8:45 AM on July 15, 2020

Response by poster: Thank you so much for your responses so far! I should mention that the person was born before 1975. I understand that the internet says Germany will only consider a male parent if born before 1975, but this seems so arbitrary, and sexist, I don't completely trust Germany would still abide by that
posted by cardamom at 11:00 AM on July 15, 2020

I understand that the internet says Germany will only consider a male parent if born before 1975, but this seems so arbitrary, and sexist, I don't completely trust Germany would still abide by that.

Unfortunately, I would -- particularly if it comes from an official source, such as the prior link to the German Federal Foreign Office website or to the German Mission in the United States.

It is very common for countries to apply different nationality laws based on the date of birth, as the guiding principle is usually that whatever law was in effect at the date of birth governs the relevant possibility for nationality.

This is not unusual and not unique to Germany. For instance, the Netherlands has a very similar situation -- if you were born prior to 1 January 1985 you could also only have inherited Dutch citizenship via your father, even though any child born today to a Dutch mother is automatically Dutch.

All that being said, it looks like your friend might be eligible for discretionary naturalization being "[b]orn to a German mother and married parents before 1975," though I'd expect this to have some actual requirements (and not just be an automatic entitlement to citizenship.)

(This isn't always the case, of course. To take one very obvious example, German nationality laws from the 1933-1945 period are not exactly still applicable, to say the least. But it's definitely more the exception than the rule.)
posted by andrewesque at 12:13 PM on July 15, 2020

I didn't want to comment on the actual history behind the 1975 rule and derail but I'll add my notes since it has come up.

For background: my wife was born before 1975 and was born to a German mother and American father. Her father was an American GI stationed in Germany when the two met. So we've pursued dual-citizenship for our children and this is where our research and conversations with the Consulate in the USA got us.

The laws came about not because of any overt sexism but because of the influx of non-German troops in Germany post-WWII that started marrying German women during their time in the country and then returning to their home countries to start families. We thought our case would be different since my mother-in-law never naturalized but, alas, the laws were written to describe the father and nobody else.

The Germans acknowledge it's unfair and sexist in today's context and there isn't much they can do about it. The laws were indeed changed and in 2000 and 2014 as part of the European Union streamlining of citizenship laws, but they don't apply retroactively to the children born before 1975.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:25 PM on July 15, 2020

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