Dual Citizenship And the Benefit of Getting Old

6 Jun 2017 Karina S. Henkel

People keep asking me if I will become an American citizen. And every time my answer comes quickly: no. Germany allows dual citizenship but getting it does not seem to be that easy.

There are quite a few countries, also in Europe, that don’t allow dual or multiple citizenships at all. Germany recognizes dual citizenship with other countries within the European Union and Switzerland. But if you want to become a citizen in any other country, you usually have to give up your German citizenship. But there are, of course, exceptions. There are European countries, though that are even stricter about this – take a look at the laws in Austria, Netherlands, Norway, and Poland. In these countries no dual citizenship is allowed at all.

The US is, in this respect, not very complicated. Everybody who has lived legally  in the US for five years and is able to pass the interview can get  American citizenship. Spouses of American citizens only have to wait three years until they are eligible .

I wouldn’t mind having  American citizenship. I live here, I work here, and it does not look as if I am going to leave soon. I would like to be recognized for that what I am: a German who is at home in the US. Some things would go smoother if I would be a citizen. Traveling back to the US is quicker for people with an American passport. Opening bank accounts and getting loans would require less paperwork and time. I am still not eligible for loans, despite my amazing credit score. And I think one of the reasons is that I am not a citizen.

And, to be honest, being a green card holder means that there is still the chance that I can be kicked out. I am not saying that this is very likely to happen, but there is legally no way to kick an American citizen out of the US.

But I would never give up my German citizenship. I was 45 when I moved to the US-way too old to forget where I come from. I am German and always want to have the opportunity to go back-just in case.

And here is the good news: Two German friends who were not allowed to get dual citizenship suddenly were successful after they turned 50. It looks as if Germany makes it easier when you are more than 50 years old.

Just don’t forget to ask Germany for permission for the American naturalization first. If you do it without a permit from Germany, you will lose your German citizenship automatically.