A different kind of anniversary

If you’ve been around these parts a little longer (or have carefully read my short bio in the sidebar), you might know that I hold dual citizenship. It’s a privilege that I don’t take for granted.

My citizenship interview and naturalization ceremony were on April 3, 2012, which means yesterday was my 10th anniversary of being a U.S. citizen and U.S-German dual citizen.

After many years as a permanent resident (without certain rights) and a federal contractor (without many of the benefits of other federal employees), I had carefully considered and then decided to apply for U.S. citizenship.

I knew that I did not want to give up my German citizenship, but thankfully Germany allows you to keep German citizenship if you have convincing reasons why you also want to become a citizen of another country. They require a so-called “Beibehaltungsgenehmigung (BGG)” (permission to retain citizenship), which is a formal application that you file with the German Federal Administration Office. The BBG is not granted automatically, but only on a discretionary basis depending on the applicant’s circumstances. The applicant has to present compelling reasons why they want to obtain foreign citizenship (e.g. disadvantages in accessing jobs, social services, etc. in the country of residency) and at the same time, prove the nature and extent of continuing ties to Germany.

Luckily, my reasons were convincing enough (disadvantages in the workplace and strong ties to family in Germany), and compared to the hoops I had to jump through for visas and the green card, the citizenship process (including the application for the BGG) was a fairly quick and easy process (in my case). I think the whole process took just over 6 months. (From what I’ve heard, these timelines might have changed a little bit).

While I would have never given up German citizenship for anything, it was a fairly easy decision for me to obtain U.S. citizenship. At the time, I had already lived here for more than 10 years and knew I would continue to live and work here for the foreseeable future. Sometimes it’s an odd feeling to belong to two countries, but I can’t deny that the US is my home now as much as I still feel Germany is my home. So, dual citizenship always seemed justifiable and self-evident to me.

  1. Congratulations on your ten year anniversary! It totally makes sense for you to have both and I am glad Germany allowed it!

    1. Thanks so much, Kim :)

  2. Congrats!
    A LOT of my family has ended up with dual citizenship (America + Canada/Canada + Portugal) and I think it’s a wonderful advantage.
    I know some countries that require you to give up citizenship, and that always makes me sad that people have to make a choice like that. Yay!

    1. Oh, that’s wonderful. I agree, it should be possible! I understand that there are instances where a dual citizenship is in conflict (e.g. when you’re joining the military), but otherwise, I don’t see how it would “interfere” with anything.

  3. Congratulations – 🍾 it’s such a privilege to be able to hold dual citizenship.

    1. Thanks friend – you know it!

  4. Happy anniversary! This was a fascinating peek at the why behind obtaining dual citizenship – very cool!

    1. Thank you, Suzanne.

  5. Happy anniversary! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Happy anniversary!

    I’m going to be apply for German citizenship soon and I’m quite excited. Not really excited about German bureaucracy though…
    Like you, I really want to keep my “first” citizenship and be able to vote in both countries.

    1. Thank you – and good luck with your application!

  7. Yay! I’m so glad you are able to hold both passports! Having an EU passport is a dream of mine!

    1. Thank you. And is an EU passport a possibility for you?

  8. I don’t think I knew about the process of keeping your German citizenship. I am glad that was approved so you could have dual citizenship. That would have been crucial for me, too, if I was in your shoes. This means I have been reading your blog for over 10 years because I remember when you became a US citizen. But it does not seem like 10 years ago!!!

    1. Thanks friend. It does not feel that long to me either!

  9. Congrats! This is a topic near and dear to my heart too, because my husband is a native born Mexican citizen. He only became a U.S. citizen…..hmmm, I can’t exactly remember the date now! I think it was maybe 8 or so years ago now? He is also a dual citizen. We completed the paperwork for my oldest son to become a dual Mexican/U.S. citizen as well (both boys born in the U.S.). Unfortunately, when we went to the Mexican Consulate in Chicago with my younger son, a couple years later, we screwed up and had the wrong version of the birth certificate along! (needed the “long” version, we just goofed). Anyway, we’ve never made it back down there to complete the forms for him! So only my oldest is a dual citizen right now. There’s really no “need” for my younger son to be a dual citizen, per se, but you never know. We really should get it done. It’s just kind of neat to say you’re a dual citizen, anyway. And if the U.S. ever goes down the crapper, we’ll have a plan B. LOL!

    My husband is so grateful to be a U.S. citizen and it was really a dream come true for him. Whenever we go to Mexico as a family, though, he always squirms just a little because he has to travel on his U.S. passport… (I don’t think he has bothered renewing his Mexican passport lately, anyway). So he always says how WEIRD it feels to go through the “extranjero/ “foreigner’ line at immigration….in his own country!! I agree that would feel super, super weird. Just the way it is if he’s using the U.S. passport, and it’s fine. But still weird. :) Is it the same way for you if you go to Germany? Travel on U.S. passport?

    My husband also definitely feels like the U.S. is “home” now- he’s been here since 2006. But he goes to Mexico every chance he gets, because he still loves it (especially the food) and it’s “really” home to him deep down, I think. ;)

    1. That is so awesome that your husband is a dual citizen, too and that he was able to keep his Mexican citizenship! I can understand why you would want both your kids to have dual citizenship, too (so I hope you can get this done for Asher (he’s the younger one, right?)).

      I feel very much like Ivan about home. I’ve been there since 2001 but I still call Germany my home. Travel is weird. I actually “have to” enter and leave Germany with my German passport and enter and leave the US with my US passport. So, technically, when I travel, I never get any “stamps” in my passport, as I enter as a citizen in both countries. I totally get how weird it is for Ivan to enter Mexico in the “foreigner” line with his US passport. (Does not have to keep his Mexican one updated?)

  10. Like Lisa, I remember when you became a U.S. citizen and it does not feel like it has been 10 years! What a great thing to be able to have dual citizenship for two countries you love. It seemed like it was quite the process to retain your German citizenship while becoming a U.S. citizen, and I’m glad you were approved for that!

  11. Happy anniversary!! That’s a big one! Yes, clearly it’s a no brainer if you can retain the citizenship of both countries. It’s confusing to me that the current government in Germany does not seem to let Americans who apply for German citizenship do the same, I think not even with special permission – I hope they will someday grant that.
    Being a dual citizen seems the closest thing to being a “citizen of the world” :)

  12. Oh, happy dual citizen day! What a wonderful thing, to be able to remember the day you got your US citizenship AND that you can keep your German citizenship. It was a no-brainer, based on your situation, and I’m just so glad that two (not one, but two!) governments agreed. (Does that ever happen?)

    I wish I were eligible for dual citizenship, but alas, not even a remote possibility. (I was wishing for this particularly hard from oh, 2016-2020… ;>)

  13. Congrats! 10 years is a lot of time.

    1. I can’t believe it’s been this long already!

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