German passports for family members
Are family members (children and spouses) of German citizens also entitled to a German passport? The right to German citizenship and a German passport is “passed down” to descendants of German citizens in a simple bureaucratic procedure. In contrast, spouses of German citizens are not automatically entitled to German citizenship and a German passport, but they can obtain them in alternative ways, such as by immigrating to Germany with their spouse. This article presents an explanation on the subject by attorney Michael Decker, a partner in our firm and an expert in German immigration law.
German citizenship and German passports confer on their bearers a variety of benefits. The German economy is considered the strongest among the member states of the European Union. German passport holders can enter almost any country in the world, including visiting the United States without needing a visa. They can move freely between countries in the European Union, as well as move to any of those countries for immigration or work purposes. German passport holders can also enjoy a wide array of social benefits if they choose to live in Germany.
Hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens are eligible for a German passport, because their parents or grandparents lost their German citizenship under the Nazi regime. Recent amendments to the German Citizenship Law have considerably expanded the number of people eligible for German citizenship by lifting certain restrictions, such as the inter-generational restriction. The law in its previous form limited the ability of applicants whose parents were not German citizens to obtain citizenship themselves. The German authorities have recently abolished certain requirements for obtaining citizenship under the circumstances mentioned above, including the requirement of knowing German.
In fact, whoever meets the requirements for naturalization does not need to do anything apart from completing a bureaucratic procedure. Once the procedure is completed successfully, applicants are granted German citizenship and the ability to apply for a passport, for which they are automatically eligible as German citizens. With that said, the question arises, does the German passport grant any rights to family members (spouses and children) of its bearer? As we explain below, children are indeed eligible for a passport themselves, but the situation regarding spouses is more complex.
German passports for the children of German citizens and passport bearers
According to the German Citizenship Law, if at least one of your parents was a German citizen at the time of your birth, you are automatically entitled to German citizenship. Your birth must be registered with the German authorities, which can be done through the German embassy. Applying for a child to receive a passport may require attaching a signed name declaration, which can be done in a relatively simple procedure. Children born before their parents received German citizenship and a German passport can acquire German citizenship based on a declaration before the German authorities. The procedure requires that a number of conditions be met and that certain documents attesting to the child’s right to citizenship be presented. In order to make sure that you meet the German authorities’ requirements and that the procedure is handled optimally, we recommend going through the process with the help of an attorney specializing in German immigration law.
In what cases may spouses of German citizens and passport holders be considered eligible for a German passport?
In principle, the eligibility we described above for children of German citizens does not apply to spouses. That is, spouses are not automatically entitled to German citizenship and a German passport just because they are married to a German citizen. However, in certain cases, German law makes it easier for spouses of German citizens to obtain citizenship themselves via a process of naturalization. The most prominent example is in cases of immigration. Spouses of German citizens (including same-sex spouses) can be naturalized and receive a German passport after legally residing in Germany for 3 years, provided that at the time of applying for naturalization they are married or in a registered partnership (which is similar to the status of ‘married by common law’ in Israel but requires completing a procedure to be registered with the German authorities). In addition, spouses of German passport holders can live together with their spouses in other countries in the European Union on a partnership basis.
German passports for family members – contact an attorney specializing in German immigration law
Above we explained the eligibility of family members (children and spouses) of German citizens to receive German passports, and the differences between children (or descendants in general) and spouses in this regard. If you have any questions or need advice or assistance on the subject, an attorney specializing in German immigration law from our firm will be happy to provide you with comprehensive and professional service. Our law firm, with offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, has extensive and proven experience in representing clients in the process of applying for German citizenship and German passports, for them and their families. You can contact us at the phone numbers and email address below, and schedule a consultation meeting with an attorney specializing in German immigration law.