Naturalization is the granting of German citizenship to a foreigner. It must be applied for and is carried out by issuing a special naturalization certificate.
A foreigner whose identity and nationality have been clarified, who has been legally resident in Germany for eight years and who fulfills the following requirements, can be naturalized on a discretionary basis upon his or her application. For persons entitled to asylum, other refugees and stateless persons, the period of residence is reduced to six years, and for German-married persons to three years. Furthermore, the duration of residence is reduced to seven years if an integration course is successfully completed. The period of residence may be further reduced to six years if proof of special integration achievements is provided (language skills significantly above the Zertifikat Deutsch level and, depending on the individual case, special civic involvement, e.g. in the fire department or in sports clubs).
The foreigner must be able to support himself and his dependent family members from his own resources. He or she must not have a criminal record and must be able to prove that he or she has sufficient knowledge of the German language.
If he or she fulfills these requirements, the citizenship authority examines whether there is a public (state) interest in the naturalization of the applicant. The General Administrative Regulation on Citizenship Law of the Federal Government regulates in more detail when a public interest in naturalization can be assumed.