The legal procedure for granting citizenship is characterised by the desire for single nationality and usually requires the renunciation of the previous nationality. Citizenship law attempts to implement this in particular through the assurance procedure (Zusicherungsverfahren) provided for in section 20 of the Citizenship Act 1985. According to this procedure, the applicant is not immediately granted citizenship, but is first assured of it in an intermediate step. Assurance means that citizenship will be granted if the applicant proves that he or she has left his or her previous citizenship within 2 years. In practice, however, this assurance procedure entails considerable disadvantages and uncertainties for the applicants for conferral and, last but not least, also raises procedural questions.
Especially in the case of EU citizens who cannot base their right of residence on a national legal act such as a residence title, giving up the foreign nationality would in most cases result in the loss of EU citizenship and thus legal residence in the federal territory. As a result, it will regularly not be reasonable for EU citizens to renounce their previous nationality before the actual granting of citizenship.
A further problem arises from the fact that the assurance is to be revoked if the applicant for conferral no longer fulfils even one of the prerequisites for conferral (with the exception of a secure livelihood). This provision, which has repeatedly been the subject of constitutional court review, is capable of completely thwarting the assurance, since the applicant for the award is exposed to the risk of statelessness if - for whatever reason - one of the conditions for the award ceases to apply; and this also after giving up the previous nationality. However, case law has repeatedly held that the revocation of the assurance is only permissible for a serious reason.
Finally, there is the procedurally interesting question of how the administrative court is to decide if the decision on the revocation of the assurance is successfully contested with an appeal, i.e. the administrative court deems the revocation of the assurance (and the rejection of the application for award that is necessarily connected with it) to be inadmissible.
In his article in the Zeitschrift für Verwaltung (ZfV), attorney-at-law Balazs Esztegar examines several aspects of the assurance of citizenship as well as the admissibility of the revocation of the assurance. He has been working as a lawyer in citizenship law for many years and advises and represents clients on all questions and types of proceedings in citizenship law. He is also the editor of a commentary on the Citizenship Act and author of the chapter on citizenship law in the WEKA Handbook on Asylum and Immigration Law.