What is citizenship in USA

Welcome to the website of the Federal Foreign Office

The important things first:

If you want to be naturalized as a German in the USA and do not want to lose your German citizenship, you have to in advance apply for a retention permit and handed out to get. (§§ 17 No. 2, 25 StAG).

The processing time by the BVA currently takes about one year.

The main points of the application review are the type and scope of the continuing ties to Germany and the disadvantages to be expected in the event of renouncing naturalization in the USA.

The Federal Office of Administration in Cologne is responsible for issuing retention permits for Germans living abroad, which has published a leaflet on the procedure.

Please send your application to your responsible German diplomatic mission in the USA, which will forward it to the Federal Administration Office with a statement. You can find out which diplomatic mission is responsible for you with the help of our consulate finder. For more information on how to fill out the application, see the additional information.

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You can submit your application yourself through the diplomatic mission responsible for you. You are free to appoint a lawyer or someone you trust, but this is not required. An application prepared by a lawyer has no better chance of success than an application that you prepared yourself.

The Processing time for applications for naturalization with the US authorities is very different. Therefore, please do not apply for US citizenship until you have received your retention permit.

Important NOTE: Anyone who was born in the USA and acquired US citizenship and, at the same time, German citizenship through descent from a German parent, has both nationalities without the need for an application for naturalization or for a retention permit.

Leaflet and application form from the Federal Office of Administration

Additional information when applying from the USA

Procedural issues (processing times, formal requirements, deadlines, etc.)

Consulate Finder

You can only obtain binding information on the naturalization process in the USA from the offices of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

What happens if my retention permit has expired?

If it is foreseeable that you will probably not be naturalized as US citizenship within the two-year period of validity of the retention permit, you should apply for another retention permit (so-called "affiliation certificate") from the Federal Administration Office.

The prerequisite is that you submit a written application to the Federal Administration Office in Cologne, in which you provide information on the status of your US naturalization procedure. You can find the application form and further information on the website of the Federal Office of Administration.

You must also state in the application whether you still have ties to the Federal Republic of Germany and whether the reasons for acquiring US citizenship still exist.

A fee is charged to the Federal Office of Administration for each new application for a retention permit.

Please ensure that you receive the new retention permit in good time - before the expiry of the validity period of the previous retention permit - otherwise you risk losing your German citizenship when you become a US citizen.

Note for German citizens in Bermuda:

From the German point of view, the so-called “Bermuda status” is not a nationality, but merely a privileged residence status. Since it is not a question of the citizenship of a sovereign state, which would be comparable to the German citizenship, the acceptance of the Bermuda status does not lead to a loss of the German citizenship. Similarly, the assumption of belonging to the British Overseas Territories Citizenship (BOTC) does not lead to a loss of German citizenship. A retention permit is therefore not required in either case.

However, the BOTC can be converted into (full) British citizenship through registration. If registration as a British citizen or a British passport is applied for and thus the transition from Bermuda status / BOTC to (full) British citizenship, German citizenship can be lost. Before applying for British citizenship or a British passport, you should therefore apply for a permit to retain German citizenship.

If you have any questions or are unsure, please contact the Honorary Consul in Bermuda or the responsible Consulate General in New York in good time.