German citizen

In the distant 1997 I was in the 9th grade, but the head of our lyceum made and exception for me and added me to the group of 10- and 11-graders who were to participate in the student exchange program. We’ve spent just several weeks in the USA, but that was enough time for me to see and experience good life. The things I saw in Hollywood movies on TV were real. To make things worse I had a reverse culture shock coming back to my hometown, and that was the time I made a decision to move to a rich western country when I can. I didn’t want extra hurdles, so I was choosing from English-speaking countries, and Australia seemed like a perfect opportunity. During my first university years I saw a possibility to study in Germany, but was too set in my plans to pursue this.

Having completed my education and gained some working experience I have almost moved to Australia, but that failed at the last moment. So when on the same day I was invited to work in Germany, I saw this as a timely sign. After all I did study some German at school, I can freshen it up again. The waiting time to become a citizen was much longer: 8 years instead of 4, but this opportunity seemed to come into my hands. And I did want to become a citizen to have the right to stay as much as I want.

Some details I have only figured out later. Just recently the ruling party of Germany had to fulfill its xenophobic electoral promises and banned dual citizenship. You can only become a citizen after renouncing your previous citizenship, unless you’re an ethnic German or an athlete. Very timely the Russian parliament introduced some laws to demonstrate the downsides of being a citizen of Russia, so I didn’t really want to remain one. Then good news came: you can naturalize after 6 years already, provided that you have integrated well in the society. The terrible bureaucracy was in fact quite swift and efficient, if you don’t take into account the time you wait in the line for your turn. So in the end the date stamped on my certificate of naturalization is April 15th – exactly 8 years after arriving in Germany. Though technically I only became a citizen on August 2nd, that’s when I was handed this paper after waiting for several months in the line for the “festive ceremony”.

Anyway I am a German citizen for a year now. I had to wait for it for so long I didn’t really have the energy to celebrate it, but I finally feel calm, content, and confident.

festive ceremony

Mostly for myself I am adding here this timeline of the process. You can see in it however that the German offices were quite quick to process the documents – when my turn came. Of the two years in total some two-thirds were spent just waiting in line, and the postal delivery of the letters took its time as well.

Artemy Tregubenko,

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