Ask the Expat: temporary or permanent?

Hey Jul: I see that you have lived in some of the most difficult countries in Europe to obtain citizenship (Switzerland and Germany). Are you planning on making your stay permanent or are you planning on coming back States side?

I really don’t know if we’ll ever move back to the US. We have no plans either way. Certainly if we do stay in Europe for a longer amount of time, EU (or Swiss) citizenship would make parts of our lives easier (and allow us to vote in local elections), but it’s not essential to staying here long-term. So far I haven’t lived in a single country long enough to become eligible (the number of years required for eligibility varies from country to country – from a few years in Ireland to over a decade in Switzerland).

If we did live in Germany long enough to become eligible for citizenship, I doubt I would apply for it. Germany would require me to give up my American passport, and I don’t think I’d ever want to do that. Permanent residency will just have to do.

The main reason I don’t want to to return to the States just yet? I’d have to find a new name for this blog.

Ask the Expat is a new feature I’m trying out here at the blog. If you have a question for me, go to this post to find out how to submit it.

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10 thoughts on “Ask the Expat: temporary or permanent?

  1. It’s true, I wasn’t thinking long-term when I chose my domain name, either. I figured I’d get bored with blogging after a couple months…

  2. Just an FYI — depending on why you’re here (i.e. work or marriage), the German citizenship issue differs (8 years residence for the first, 3 for the second), but even if you get citizenship, it’s a misunderstanding that you have to give up your US passport. In fact, it’s almost impossible to give up your US citizenship if you got it by birth unless you fight for another country’s army (besides Israel, which has an agreement with the US). The US is one of the few countries that Germany allows you to maintain dual citizenship with.

  3. I know there are special exceptions for those born with both citizenships, but everything else I’ve heard suggests that Germany requires nationalized citizens to give up US citizenship. From the US Embassy website:

    Under German law, a person may not have more than one citizenship unless he/she was born with both, as described in paragraphs 2 and 3 above. Thus, German law requires an American who becomes a German citizen through the Einbürgerung process (see paragraph 5 in the section entitled, “Basic Primer on German Citizenship Law”) to formally renounce his/her American citizenship, and a German who becomes an American citizen (see paragraph 5 in the section entitled, “Basic Primer on American Citizenship Law”) to give up his/her German citizenship.

    Now I’ve heard of people who simply don’t renounce the other nationality, and who have not had any repercussions from this (it’s not like the US and Germany compare citizen rosters on a regular basis), but I don’t think that’s a game I’d want to play.

  4. I know a bunch of germans who moved to Australia as adults and who all became Australian a few years ago because it was finally possible for them to have dual nationality (ie. to become Australian without giving up being German). I don’t know if there are any implications of that for Americans, though.

  5. I heard Germany started allowing dual citizenship with Switzerland a couple years ago, too. Maybe they’ll allow it with the US by the time I’m eligible for it, at least…

  6. Germany does say that, but… the US doesn’t allow you to officially renounce. So you can go ahead and naturalize (and give up your US passport) but the US will still recognize your right to be a US citizen and pay taxes to them and you can always apply for your US passport again, as long as you were born an American. It seems many countries have similar loopholes. But hey– if you’ve got no problems getting work visas, who cares which passport you’re carrying?

  7. I’m new to your blog, but I love it. I am an American Expat living in Switzerland. A very cool place, but I’ve also racked up time in Germany and Austria.

    Are you in Germany now?

  8. Topics – What makes you think you’re not allowed to renounce US citizenship? The US government even offers these handy instructions on how to do it:

    Indeed, the whole dual citizenship question isn’t one I think about much these days. If/when I became eligible for another passport, I’d start looking into it, but until then I’m not going to worry about it.

    Young Traveler – Welcome, and thanks for stopping by. I am in fact in Germany right at this very second.

  9. Jul — I was using a comment from the consulate after my daughter was born (‘no one can take away citizenship if it’s along bloodlines’) and this article as my basis for my comments, but in rereading, I see my misunderstanding.

    I have also, however, heard from others who’ve been naturalized as Germans that afterward, they’ve reapplied for their US passport and had no repercussions. Not to beat a dead horse, especially since neither of us is giving up the US pass, but am curious now myself, as Germany’s rules have changed so frequently recently…

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