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, which is the case if the applicant’s level of German exceeds the B1 certificate, if the applicant obtained outstanding educational or professional degrees in Germany or if the applicant was involved in voluntary work in Germany;
- 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 criminal offences. All actions and omissions which are sanctioned by the German Criminal Code are considered as grounds for denial if the person has been convicted. Criminal offences which have been committed abroad are also considered if the action or omission is equally sanctioned in the German Criminal Code and if the verdict was reached by due process and if the charges of the foreign country are proportionate.
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.
Fees for naturalisation are €255 for an adult person and €51 for children.
In 2021 131 600 persons received German citizenship, but available statistics do not differentiate between residence and/or protection statuses. The number of former Syrian nationals tripled from 2020 to 2021 which might stem from the fact that those who fled the Syrian war in 2015 or 2016 now fulfil the criteria of 6 or more years of legal stay in Germany. No breakdown of other former nationalities is available for 2021.
 Section 10 (3) Nationality Act.
 Hailbronner et al., Staatsangehörigkeitsrecht, Beckscher Kurz-Kommentar, 7th Edition, 2022, Section 10 Nationality Act, para. 108f.
 Section 12 (1)(Nr. 6) Nationality Act.
 Hailbronner et al., Staatsangehörigkeitsrecht, Beck’scher Kurz-Kommentar, 7th Edition, 2022, Section 8 Nationality Act, para. 103ff.
 Section 38 Nationality Act.