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.