Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Anne M. Seibel

First Page



International law permits each individual State to determine who under its laws are citizens of the nation. Germany's decision at the beginning of this century to adhere to the jus sanguinis model of citizenship continues to shape the country's immigration and citizenship laws. This model predicates citizenship on one's parents rather than one's place of birth. Accordingly, "ethnic Germans" who have returned to Germany since the end of the Cold War era are considered to possess a right to German citizenship. In contrast, naturalization procedures are rigorous for foreign residents, including guestworkers and asylum seekers, many of whom are long-time residents of Germany. Although this difference in naturalization rates is to be expected as part of the jus sanguinis model, the author argues that strict adherence to the model is no longer appropriate in Germany because it has become a country of immigration--ein Einwanderungsland.

The Note first describes the role of guest workers, asylum seekers, and ethnic Germans in Germany after World War II, followed by a description of Germany's current citizenship and naturalization policies. The Note then reviews opinions about the current system and proposals for alteration of the laws. Finally, the Note suggests proposals to address the need to integrate the foreign resident population through revisions of either the country's citizenship laws or its laws regarding the rights of the foreign population.