After my brief mention of the whole citizenship issue the other day, I thought I should clarify the whole situation. Because it is a confusing mess.
As it stands right now, Torsten is a German citizen and a U.S. permanent resident (green card holder). He holds a German passport, not a U.S. passport, but he can actually go through the U.S. citizens customs line with his green card (which is nice when we travel together, that we no longer have to go through separate lines).
Green card holders have the right to apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization after five years of permanent residency, unless they hold permanent residency through marriage to a U.S. citizen (as in Torsten's case), in which case they can apply for naturalization after three years.
The U.S. government tolerates, though they do not approve of, dual citizenship. (I myself happen to be a dual citizen with the UK.) The naturalization process requires you to take an oath of allegiance to the U.S. that implies that you are renouncing all allegiances and citizenships to any other countries. From what I can tell, this is not enforced, and is really just intended to make the new citizen agree that they would theoretically be willing to give up their other citizenship should it be required someday (as far as I know this doesn't ever happen).
So, on the US side there would be no problem with Torsten becoming a dual citizen. HOWEVER. Germany doesn't like that so much. I have done some preliminary research on this, and learned the following: Germany allows dual citizenship with another country if you are born with it. This means that Piglet and any future children we have will automatically be dual citizens, and they will not be required to choose between German and American citizenship at any point in their lives. However, if as an adult German citizen you voluntarily take on the citizenship of another country, you have to give up your German citizenship.
Our thinking on this was as follows: Torsten can't apply for U.S. naturalization yet anyway. There is no rush in becoming a citizen (our only real concerns are that he would be able to vote, which isn't major, and that if he somehow accidentally committed a crime, he could theoretically be deported). So, our plan was, have kids, register them as dual citizens through their father's German citizenship, and then figure out what we want to do about Torsten's citizenship status.
We know for a fact that he 100% does not want to give up his German citizenship. It's a lot more beneficial than U.S. citizenship in terms of things like social services, health care, and so on. For example, if something terrible were to happen to someone in our family, like an incredibly expensive medical problem that were not covered by insurance, we would always have the backup plan of going to Germany to have it treated.
But it would be nice if he could be a U.S. citizen too. We wondered how tightly Germany enforces this policy--if they would ever find out that he had become a U.S. citizen, and if they would really revoke his German citizenship if they did find out. We kind of set the matter aside, figuring we'd look into it more once we were done having kids, and figure out at that point what the best course of action was. In the meantime, the more pressing question is about how to register Piglet's German citizenship--and in fact I tasked Torsten ages ago with researching that question on Germany.info, whose citizenship information is only in German.
But THEN. On my post on Monday, reader Sarah (who I can't link to because as far as I know she doesn't have a blog--Sarah, do you have a blog? Or a Twitter account? Or anything? If so, I would like the link, please! And also, THANKS AGAIN) informed me of something that I had not come across in any of the (admittedly cursory) research I'd already done: there exists something called a Beibehaltungsgenehmigung. Yes, that is actually a real word. I have no idea what it literally translates to, but it basically involves receiving permission from the German government to become a dual citizen in advance of applying for citizenship in another country.
From what I can tell from my Googling, all he has to do is prove that he still has strong ties to Germany! And really, having tons of family and friends still over there, traveling there regularly, having an advanced degree from a German university, still being enrolled in the German health insurance system, and raising a German-speaking child should probably be sufficient for that. I don't know what the process is or how much it costs, but how awesome is that? Torsten has been tasked with researching the details of this process as well. But what great news! What a big question that we now will hopefully never have to answer!
And to think... I might never have found out about it if it weren't for this blog. Being a blogger just NEVER STOPS being useful.
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