An Alien in America

An alien's perspective on life and everything else

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Immigration into the US – Citizenship

Posted by nickxyz on May 1, 2014

Always a topic at the top of the list for every permanent resident and visa holder in this country.

Is it a good idea, is it feasible, does it make sense for me, and how to best go about it? The answers to any of those questions are both subjective and very personal. Philosophically, assimilation and integration into a chosen culture would and should culminate in citizenship. Not only does it mean a person chooses to maintain his or her center of life in the country, participate in daily life and contribute to society and local communities, such a decision also has a very real implication on one’s own understanding of heritage and roots.

Allow me to elaborate; adopting citizenship usually means giving up (voluntarily by decision) or invariably losing (involuntarily forced) one’s birth citizenship. That’s a very hard decision and realization to arrive at, personally. It is more than just changing the color of one’s passport, being able to participate in official elections somewhere else; citizenship in all its meaning is a very integral part of one’s being, it is very emotional and deeply rooted in one’s understanding of the world.

Aside from the “just do it” mentality of administratively embarking on this process, I have personally struggled with this decision for quite a while. I love both sides of the Atlantic, both contribute something to my life and outlook that I do not want to miss or have to go without. It is traditions, mentalities and perspectives that I value as each “world” contributes to my daily life in its own unique ways.

OK, time to get real then. Unbeknownst to me, and quite a number of other Germans abroad, the German legal system has changed in 2000 / 2001. It is now possible, as a German abroad, to adopt another country’s citizenship without losing German citizenship by default! It is called ‘Beibehaltungsgenehmigung’. A mouthful of a word, great for your next Scrabble game, yet, it holds great promise as it opens the door for dual citizenship following a successful petition to the German government.

As with any official legal matter, it has some quirks and procedural steps that will need to be strictly adhered to, yet, given that this window of opportunity has been in existence for almost 14 years now, there is a treasure trove of information to be found on the Internet about Germans who have already embarked on the journey and now successfully maintain two citizenships.

One of those sources has provided immense help to my own journey a few years ago, and which continues to be the go-to site for anyone with a personal interest to do the same: Yahoo Groups – Zweipaesse

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