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Sunday, November 06, 2016

The One Who Got Away (Part 2)

During my first info session at the naturalization office, they gave me a checklist of everything that I needed to submit for my* application.

* = If you somehow find this post looking for information about acquiring German citizenship, please just be aware that your particular circumstances may require you to submit completely different things (maybe more things, maybe fewer things... you lucky bastard). Go to their office, get your own checklist. Don't be the guy who's like "A random person on the internet said these were all the things. Blarg. Arg. #Me so angry. I guess I'll go fuck myself now." The hashtag in "me so angry" was a totally accidental typo, but it supports my point so it stays.

  • The naturalization application
  • A declaration of any past/present political affiliations and memberships
  • A photo (umm... of me. Non-biometric allowed)
  • My passport
  • My residency card (elektronischer Aufenthaltstitel)
  • My birth certificate
  • My registration confirmation (Meldebestätigung)
  • Proof of at least B1 German language level 
  • Confirmation of a passing score on the "Life in Germany" / citizenship test (Leben in Deutschland / Einbürgerungstest)
  • My CV
  • My employment contract
  • My most recent pay stub (Gehaltsabrechnung)
  • The first two pages of my rental contract (or a bank statement showing rent payment)

In the directions on the checklist, it stated that I should bring all the forms in the original, plus a copy. To me, this means that I essentially needed to have 2 of everything. However, really all I needed to show was that for all of the official documents, certificates, etc the administrator working on my case could confirm with his own eyes that the originals exist. The copies are submitted as the application and I had to bring the copies myself, because "[the printer at the naturalization office] is pretty terrible." 

Oh... and don't sign any of the forms until you are at the naturalization office. They need to see you sign. It's not a big deal if you do, but I feel like signing and dating papers when you get to the end is such an automated action for most people. 

Anyway, I paid the 255€ fee and signed an additional affidavit. The only thing that I couldn't submit were my test results from the citizenship test. That's because I haven't taken it yet and, therefore, do not have any results. 


BAMF -- the German authority with the most disappointing acronym because it doesn't stand for Bad-Ass Motherfucker, but rather the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees) -- anyway, they're responsible for a test called Leben in Deutschland (Life in Germany). This is also known as the Einbürgerungstest (citizenship test). 

When my mom was going through the naturalization process in the U.S. I recall helping her study for the citizenship test and helping her out. Though I was maybe only in the 5th or 6th grade at the time, I didn't find the questions particularly challenging. This is possibly because the U.S. citizenship test is likely based on the type of generalized, un-nuanced knowledge of civics that one would receive at the 5th or 6th grade level

I think the German version is of a slightly higher school level. I'd place it around maybe 10th - 11th grade, if I had to guess. But it is just as un-nuanced with ample doses of victor bias. 

Other notes of comparison: 

The U.S. test has a pool of 100 questions of which you are asked 10 and have to correctly answer 6 (60%)

The German test has a pool of 300 questions of which you are asked 33 and have to correctly answer 17 (51%)

Both have study apps on iPhone and Android.

Easy enough. I've been casually prepping for the test off and on over the years. I have a consistent average of ~ 30/31. You'd think you'd just be able to go a testing center, take the test same day and just be done with it. But then you would be wrong, because of course this is Germany and you need to register at least 4 weeks in advance. 

The best part about finding out concrete information about test availability is that you must go in person. The local Volkshochschule (community college) has an office with terribly random hours and a website with information slightly outdated so as just to be right on the outskirts of Camp Useless. And, don't bother calling the telephone numbers listed, because you'll only be told that they can't give you information over the phone. 

Once you go in, the registration process follows your typical German bureaucratic hijinks. Multiple signs telling you to take a number. Take a number and go into the waiting room. Current number is 099. Your number is F07. Confused emoji expression, but on your real face. Hope that the counter restarts after 100. Finally get called. Pass a maze of wall dividers only to find a reception desk. Find out you have to go down stairs into the basement. Get lost in basement because the only sign is a hand-drawn map of how to find the bathroom. Walk into random unmarked room. Turns out its the guy doing the test registrations. Register. Pay 25€.

Anyway, I dippity dicked around trying to find a way to register that didn't require having to leave work in the middle of the day, which was basically impossible. So by the time I did manage to do the registration, the next available test slot was on November 28th... ok, fine.

It wasn't until I received my confirmation in the post that I found out that after the test it would take another 3-6 weeks to get the results. 

Schönes Ding, indeed.


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