What effect do previous convictions have on naturalisation?
According to § 10 of the Nationality Act (StAG), foreigners who have had their habitual residence in Germany lawfully for eight years are entitled to be naturalised. In addition to sufficient knowledge of German, the legal and social order and living conditions in Germany and a commitment to a free democratic basic order, the prerequisite for this is, among other things, that the foreigner wishing to naturalise has not been sentenced to an unlawful offence. But not every previous conviction is relevant. In the case of naturalisation, sentences to a fine of up to 90 daily rates and sentences to imprisonment of up to three months, which have been suspended for probation, are disregarded, § 12a StAG. Incidentally, these are almost the same limits that § 32 BZRG provides for entries in the certificate of good conduct.
It should be noted in particular that convictions which no longer appear in the certificate of good conduct because the period of § 34 BZRG has expired may still be of relevance for naturalisation. For the naturalisation procedure, entries that are not included in a certificate of good conduct may also be made known to the naturalisation authorities, § 41 Abs. 1 Nr. 6 BZRG. In the case of a conviction to a higher penalty, it is therefore important whether the entry in the Federal Central Register has been erased. The repayment periods lie between five and 20 years, § 46 BZRG. Only after expiration of the repayment period the act may no longer be reproached, § 51 BZRG.
If the conviction should lie only slightly over the borders of 90 daily rates and/or three months, the naturalization authority has a certain discretion scope. It can permit naturalisation despite a previous conviction, but does not have to do so. However, the limit must not be exceeded too far. Administrative court rulings, for example, no longer allow naturalisation even if a fine of 120 daily rates is imposed.
For the person interested in naturalisation, a previous conviction therefore has a double negative effect. In addition to the entry in the certificate of good conduct, the application for naturalisation is made more difficult.