I’ve learned from the American Expatriates group on Facebook that those seeking German citizenship may obtain it before renouncing a citizenship when the cost for renunciation costs more than a month’s gross wages (Note: Brian Gaber says this is completely false; a lawyer says it is not the law, but an interpretation of the law, so go ahead and try it anyway). This in a list of other Ausnamen (exceptions) from those who must renounce their citizenship before become a German citizen:
wenn der andere Staat unzumutbare Bedingungen für die Entlassung aus der Staatsangehörigkeit stellt, z. B. überhöhte Gebühren (mehr als ein Brutto-Monateinkommen, aber mindestens 1.280 €).
This means that Americans may obtain German citizenship without having to renounce US citizenship in advance, if the $2350 renunciation fee is higher than 1280 € and also higher than a month’s gross wages. It also makes it clear that the reason is that any fee a person’s monthly wage is exorbitant (unzumutbare Bedingungen) . Immigration Germany (the Ausländeramt) is showing both compassion and flexibility. This is exemplary pragmatism and should be imitated by bureaucrats around the world. It is the opposite of the current State Department approach, which is tyrannical. The current exchange rate 1.11. 1280 €=US $1421.
I could, but then I would have to renew it more often and the Ausländerbehörde would be demanding that I study in a certain amount of time. Because of the stress and medical toll of mental exhaustion the ending of my marriage took on me, I’m unfortunatley behind on my physics and have a leave of absence for this current semester. So I’m not sure if I would then get problems from them. In the worse case I could simply study something completely different in order to use it as a basis to stay. The problem with a student visa is it excludes one of the two paragraphs of the German citizenship law (Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz = StAG) from working for me. This would exclude § 10, which says amongst other things:
“Ein Ausländer…ist auf Antrag einzubürgern, wenn er…eine Aufenthaltserlaubnis für andere als die in §§ 16, 17…besitzt”.
“A foreigner…is to be naturalized upon application if he…has a residence permit other than those in §§ 16, 17…etc.”
§ 16 is for student visas, § 17 is for apprenticeships. So then I would only have § 8 StAG that could work in my favor in my attempt to become a German citizen.
I am fully aware that this would be something that would take time and not be simple. As far as I understand, I am not subjected to an exit tax, because I never earned enough to be subjected to income tax. I’m only 25 and have never had a job that paid enough. I was going to school, jobbing on the side and before my marriage ended, I was a full time student. I can imagine I would only have to pay the fee of 2,350 $ (hope that’s correct). This would be a measure I would take into consideration if my attempt to become a citizen should fail.
My question would simply be: What would Germany do with me as soon as I am stateless? Could it still deport me to the States? My goal is simply to stay where I am and continue living my life as I see fit.
@AD asked: “My question would simply be: What would Germany do with me as soon as I am stateless? Could it still deport me to the States? My goal is simply to stay where I am and continue living my life as I see fit.”
While it is sometimes said that a person could be deported to a country of former nationality that can’t happen unless the country issues a travel document (“passport letter”) or a visa on a “stateless person’s travel document” (once called a Nansen passport). No carrier will allow such a person to travel otherwise. I don’t know how the late Garry Davis (Google him) returned to the USA but I suspect he got an immigrant visa based on Amcit relatives. The Harmon Wilfred case is instructive (and has been cited elsewhere) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmon_Wilfred — He avoided deportation from New Zealand by renouncing US citizenship.
Someone has asked on a Swiss forum whether renouncing US citizenship might make naturalisation in Switzerland more difficult. I don’t think anyone outside of the Swiss government can really answer that.
This article is wrong, misleading, and could not be further from the truth. If you are a US citizen and qualify for German citizenship (meaning you have already taken the language tests, citizenship test, etc.), you will be given a certificate stating that you will receive German citizenship as soon as you present your CLN (Certificate of Loss of Nationality) from the US. If you take German citizenship WITH THE INTENT OF LOSING YOUR US CITIZENSHIP, you do not have to pay the $2350 fee. The fee is for renouncing only – it does not cost you anything to relinquish your US citizenship. So, relinquishing is free when you become a German citizen, there is no need to renounce and pay the fee. In my particular case, I applied for German citizenship and wanted to retain my US citizenship. My case worker did not know the difference between relinquishing and renouncing, so I was able to convince him that I had to pay $2350 if I were to give up my US citizenship. Even though I had no income whatsoever for the past year, I was told that “I had enough money” and paying the $2350 fee would not be a hardship for me. So, two facts are: if you take German citizenship with the intent to lose your US citizenship – there is no fee, it is free; if you decide to renounce, it is completely up to the whims of your case worker whether or not he feels that paying a $2350 fee is a hardship or not. Since you also have to prove that you have enough funds to be financially for the rest of your life – this is just about impossible to do.
Brian your assessment of the information that I passed on in the post is uncharitable. I am sorry, nevertheless, that things didn’t work out for you. I will put a link to your comment in the original post, so as to give readers your point of view. I was only trying to help those who might be in this catch-22. The website is an official German government source.
Yeah- Germany is strange in that way. For example- they have wonderful social services, but if you have elderly parents and they need financial help- the children- even estranged children- when deemed to have “enough” are asked to help to pay for their elderly parents. So I totally believe the comment about ” if you have enough money” you have to foot the bill yourself.
I know of two people who relinquished their US citizenship in Germany recently by naturalising (and after that they applied for the CLN on that relinquishment ground), as they were approved to naturalise without renouncing first for the financial hardship reason. I’ve had extensive correspondence with one of them about it as they were going through the process.
Based on these, it appears that if a person can prove financial hardship, Germany will waive their standard procedure (which is renounce US first, then acquire German), and allow the person to acquire German citizenship (without renouncing US first), so they can avoid the $2350 renunciation fee.
I think the above article is accurate and I note that the author cites a German government source document.
Based on Brian’s experience, it looks like we have now learned that the different citizenship case workers in Germany may not be applying this consistently and may not be consistently knowledgeable.
Brian, thank you for posting, so German readers will be warned of possible difficulties with it. I’m sorry that you got stuck. I’m wondering would it be possible to bring it to a higher level than the caseworker and see if you could get it worked out there?
My understanding, from my correspondence with a person going through the process and the German government website, is that the waiver is based on income, not assets.
I really hope that others have more success than I did. It really does appear to depend on the personal whims of the case worker.
Brian’s problem isn’t about renunciation vs. relinquishment at all, it’s about dual citizenship. He wants to keep his US citzenship and apply for German citzenship as well, which isn’t (generally) allowed in Germany. As he stated himself, he’s not revealing his true intentions to the case worker:
” In my particular case, I applied for German citizenship and wanted to retain my US citizenship. My case worker did not know the difference between relinquishing and renouncing, so I was able to convince him that I had to pay $2350 if I were to give up my US citizenship.”
@Pacifica777 is correct; he could easily go the relinquishment route and not have to pay the renunciation fee…
I came to germany as a child 40 years ago and last year had to figure out, that I was “not compliant” and facing gigantic penalties (and even US-jail) for missing paperwork. What a shock! There was no (affordable) help in the language I was educated in (german) and thus had to quickly learn a lot of tax-terms in a foreign language (english) and do this tax thing. I’m still very upset, that I even had to break german laws in order to fulfill US-laws (FBAR).
Q: is there any known initative in germany that is challenging FATCA in germany? According to my german lawyer to costs for a run to the “Verfassungsgericht” is about 60-75k€. Unfortunately my insurance excludes this.I would like to join an exsiting case, if possible.
F:gibt es eine bekannte Klage (auch ggf. in Vorbereitung) in D gegen diesen Wahnsinn? Ich konnte keine finden. Lt. meinem Anwalt kostet eine Runde in D vor dem Verfassungsgericht ca. 60-75k€ (im wesentlichen Anwalts- und Gutachterkosten). Selber alleine klagen kann ich nicht, da 1) es offenbar juritisches Neuland und somit sehr teuer ist. 2) es in meiner RS ausgeschlossen ist (leider)
Einer Klage in D würde ich mich ggf. anschließen.
Welcome, and best wishes to you. Hope you continue to follow and participate here.
I don’t know the answer re any initiative in Germany to challenge FATCA, but there was EU MEP pushback re data exchange and privacy protections, as well as challenge to the secrecy with which FATCA talks were carried on by the EU, via MEP Sophie in’t Veld.
Evidence of brave and principled pushback by EU MEP Sophie in’t Veld at the EU re FATCA (and on other issues of lack of transparency vis a vis the US wz. http://www.ip-watch.org/2012/09/21/transparency-still-an-uphill-battle-in-the-eu/ );
If you Google “sophie in’t veld AND FATCA” you will get many results including her Twitter feed, etc.
I am only an Anglophone so I am hampered by not being very able to find results and coverage for Germany and the EU. Perhaps you can do better.
As an EU citizen, perhaps contacting MEP in’t Veld might be useful.
This MEP also asked FATCA related questions in the EU parliament, but I don’t know what her actual position is now;
You can do a search for FATCA in the EUParliament records, ex. ;
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/portal/en/search?q=fatca which may turn up other leads as to the positions of some EU politicians.
At one point we tried to get EU Greens interested, by pointing out that the Canadian Green party had exposed a legal opinion expressed in a letter ( http://www.greenparty.ca/sites/greenparty.ca/files/attachments/peter_hogg_fatca.pdf ) by a leading Canadian constitutional scholar/lawyer to our Canadian government that the FATCA IGA was likely illegal and unconstitutional:
We were unable to get EU Greens interested enough, but perhaps being an EU citizen you might have more success in Germany.
An origanisation working against FATCA and Citizenship Based Taxation is American Citzens Abroad, http://www.AmericansAbroad.org. You can find further information on Dual Citizenship on the Legal Guide to Germany, http://www.lg2g.info. I do not know of any further resources in Germany. Maybe we should get crowdfiunding to finance your lawyer — if you seriously beleive that he could win the case.
Unfortunately the EU greens absolutely love FATCA and anything similar to it, i.e. the OECD reporting scheme. EU citizens cannot expect support from them at all. Sven Giegold, for example, has made that very clear.
“…..Maybe we should get crowdfunding to finance your lawyer…..” Never done this, no know-how how to do this. Most likely I’ll get to hear an : “Ami go home” if I step into the public with my issue. So… I’m alone.
I’ve expected this. German Greens are in economical terms more or less comunistst. (sometimes even worse) They love total control over anybody and everything.
@ Both: thx for responding
ACA is one of many organizations that support a Same Country Exemption for FATCA, which by the FATCA Task Force’s own admission may not even be effective and seeks to undermine the only guaranteed route to ending the onslaught – that is FATCA’s full repeal. Organizations like ACA are willing to take the risk that in the end, we could very well be left with nothing.
Charging $2,350 for relinquishment may allow low and moderate income American citizens who are obtaining German citizenship through naturalization to retain their US citizenship under the hardship provision of German law. Previously, no-charge relinquishment of US citizenship was an out for the German bureaucracy to avoid that the naturalization applicant could claim hardship.
Allowing Americans to retain their US citizenship while naturalizing in Germany may encourage some Americans there to obtain German citizenship and then take “a wait and see” approach to giving up US citzenship. This could have an appeal to some Americans in Germany.
As mentioned above in this thread, Norway, Austria and the Netherlands also have hardship provisions for those naturalizing in those countries which could be invoked for some low and moderate income Americans in those countries.
Here is a link to a recent (January 2017) post confirming that the main statement at the top of this page is true, and statements contradicting it are essentially false.
@R. Meidner: Thank you for your valuable post and update!
Currently in the procedure of attaining German citizenship, I can confirm the post to be true. My case worker expressed her regret that my salary was slightly above the threshhold for claiming hardship. Even if marrried, only the salary of the applicant is counted but you should not be on Harz IV (social support).