Like other foreign nationals, refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection can apply for German citizenship subject to a number of conditions. Most of these conditions apply to all foreign nationals who wish to become German citizens:
- Applicants must have stayed legally in Germany for 8 years without interruptions. The duration of a former asylum procedure can be included in this waiting period if the applicants have been granted refugee status or subsidiary protection status. The residence period can be reduced to 7 years if applicants have attended an integration course successfully, and it can be reduced to 6 years if applicants have integrated particularly well into society;
- Applicants must be able to cover the cost of living for themselves and their families;
- Applicants must have sufficient German language skills (level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages);
- Applicants must pass a “naturalisation test” to prove that they have sufficient knowledge of Germany’s legal and social system, as well as living conditions in Germany; and
- Applicants must not have committed serious criminal offences.
In contrast to other foreign nationals, refugees are not required to give up their former nationality. The local authorities responsible for naturalisation therefore regularly ask the BAMF whether the reasons, which originally have led to the granting of refugee status, are still valid or whether a revocation procedure has to be initiated. In many cases, even if a revocation procedure was carried out, loss of refugee status would only be a formal act, since a foreign national who fulfils all the other requirements for citizenship would usually be entitled to stay in Germany and to naturalisation. Nevertheless, it is often recommended that refugees who apply for naturalisation consult an advice centre and/or a lawyer in order to avoid problems which might result from a revocation of the refugee status.
Fees for naturalisation are €255 for an adult person and €51 for children.
In 2019, 128,905 persons received German citizenship, but available statistics do not differentiate between residence and/or protection statuses. The countries of origin of persons granted citizenship suggest that only a comparably small number of them were beneficiaries of international protection (e.g. 3,860 former Syrian nationals, 4,645 former Iraqi nationals, 3,805 former Iranian nationals, 2,675 former Afghan nationals).