German Parliament adopts the new bill on the 'option duty'

by EUDO Citizenship expert Anuscheh Farahat

On 3 July the German Bundestag (Federal Parliament) passed a bill reforming the so-called ‘option duty’ under German citizenship law. The Bundestag essentially adopted the bill as proposed by the Bundesregierung (Federal Government),  which was commented here earlier this year. The Bundestag now passed the bill without any significant changes. (*)

According to the new law the ‘option duty’ will be waived for children of immigrants born in Germany  who have either eight years of residence in Germany before turning twenty-one or have attended a German school for at least six years (while the residence requirement for the parents remain the same). The law will treat graduation from a German school and completion of professional education in Germany as sufficient. In cases when none of these criteria is satisfied, a ius soli ‘child’ may be able to prove a comparable close link to Germany, on the condition that the duty to opt would impose a particular hardship in the individual case. Accordingly, the citizenship administration will have to decide on a case by case basis whether the children are exempted from the ‘option duty’ and can keep both citizenships.

The new bill will improve the situation of the vast majority of ius soli ‘children’ in Germany. An estimated number of 40,000 young Germans per years will benefit from the new regulation as from 2018. However, the bill falls short of the historical move towards full acknowledgment of dual citizenship and retains the ‘option duty’ as a general principle. Moreover, the government has been criticised by NGOs and lawyers for creating new administrative hurdles and upholding the ‘option duty’ for purely symbolical reasons.

Read more details in Süddeutsche Zeitungn and in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 

(*) The Bundersat adopted the law without substantial modifications on 17 September 2014. Anuscheh Farahat is currently updating the report on CITIZENSHIP LAWS and Chronology of legislations for Germany. 

Read our earlier news on the issue.