The German Citizenship Act in the version of 1871-1914 stipulated that a German automatically lost his/her citizenship by residing outside of Germany for more than 10 years. As most immigrants from Germany were affected by this automatic loss of German citizenship, it is usually not possible to base a claim to German citizenship on ancestors who immigrated to the United States before 1904.
Rule of thumb: If you were born in Germany prior to January 1, 2000, neither of your parents was German at the time of your birth, nor did they apply for your German citizenship, then you are not German.
Please note: Since German language skills are a requirement for the following processes, only the German webpage has information on
- The Retention Permit to keep German citizenship when naturalizing in the US (Beibehaltungsgenehmigung)
- Naturalization after having lost German citizenship due to naturalizing elsewhere without prior Retention Permit
- Naturalization for children born in wedlock before 1975 to a German mother and foreign father and children born out of wedlock before 1993 to a German father and foreign mother
- Negative Clearance of German citizenship