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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Deutschland –

Source: Destatis Federal Statistical Office

Press release No.N 068 of October 26, 2020

For the first time since German unification, fewer than 10,000 Germans gave up their place of residence in this country in 2019 to move to the USA
The United States was also one of the top 3 emigration destinations for Germans last year, but its popularity has been falling since 2015
More naturalizations by US-Americans in 2019: + 62% compared to the previous year

WIESBADEN – The result of the 59th presidential election of the United States on November 3rd is eagerly awaited. The USA was no longer the first choice for Germans willing to emigrate in recent years. As reported by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), 9,782 (3.6%) of the total of 270,294 German emigrants moved to the United States in 2019. In 2016 – the last year of the US presidency of Barack Obama – 12,781 (4.5%) of a total of 281,411 German emigrants chose the United States as their new home. Despite the downward trend, the USA was still one of the top 3 emigration destinations last year, only the neighboring countries of Switzerland (16,340) and Austria (11,904) attracted more Germans.

Most popular destinations for German emigrants in 2019

Percentage ownership %
Total departures
270 294
16 340
11 904
9 782
United Kingdom
6 766
6 479
5 765
5 682
5 188
3 147

Since 2015, fewer Germans have emigrated to the United States every year. In 2004, the states took first place on the popularity scale for emigration destinations. At that time, 12,976 German emigrants moved to the USA. The official statistics recorded fewer than 10,000 emigrations to the United States for the last time in 1982 (only for the former federal territory).

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By contrast, 19,186 Americans moved to Germany in 2019; that was 1,087 fewer arrivals than in the previous year. In 2016, official statistics recorded 20,736 immigrants with US citizenship.

Since 2017, more people have moved from the USA to Germany than the other way around

A look at migration balances, i.e. immigration from the United States versus emigration to the United States, reveals another interesting aspect: since 2017, more people have moved from the United States to Germany than vice versa. From a German perspective, this resulted in a positive migration balance of 4,771 people in 2017 (2018: +3 556 people; 2019: +3 334 people) for the USA, which is often associated in this country as a typical country of immigration. If you only consider people with German citizenship, immigration from the USA and emigration to the USA have been almost the same since 2017 (2017: +62 Germans, 2018: -303 Germans and 2019: -284 Germans). Before that, there had been a consistent net emigration of German people to the USA since 1991.

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Number of naturalizations in 2019 increased compared to the previous year

Whether the move to the United States is permanent or the United States is only the adopted home for a limited period of time certainly cannot always be answered at the time of departure. Those who apply for naturalization have made their home in the United States permanently. According to the annual report of the Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS), 843,600 adults (aged 18 and over) were naturalized in the USA in 2019, of which around 81,000 were from Europe and 4,745 from Germany. After a decline in the number of people who were born in Germany in 2017 (3 879), according to the OIS, the number has increased again in the past two years (2018: 4 284 naturalized from Germany).

Naturalized in the United States by country of birth

Source: OIS
A total of
779 929
653 416
730 259
753 060
707 265
761 901
843 593
from that
from Europe
80 333
71 325
78 074
74 344
65 141
71 436
81 040
from Germany
4 066
3 879
4 745

Conversely, last year 1,205 Americans acquired German citizenship through naturalization, 460 more than in the previous year (2018: 745). Of those naturalized in 2019, only around 300 lived in Germany. US citizens were mostly naturalized abroad as so-called old and reparation cases (840 of 915 foreign cases). A look at the past 20 years shows an increasing tendency with regard to naturalization of US citizens with annual fluctuations. The number of naturalizations from abroad increased significantly more than the number of naturalizations in Germany (2000: 45 naturalizations abroad and 120 naturalizations in Germany).

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Methodological notes:

The migration statistics show the immigration and emigration of people who have been registered or deregistered with the competent registration authorities in accordance with the legal regulations. Here, cases of migration are recorded without taking a minimum length of stay into account. Motives for migration are not recorded in the statistics.

As of 2016, immigration and emigration of Germans from or to “unknown / no information” are recorded in the migration statistics under external migration, which previously were largely not taken into account. The total number of deregistrations by Germans from the 2016 reporting year is therefore not comparable with the total number of deregistrations by Germans in previous years. The results on external migration of Germans to countries of origin / destination are not affected by this methodological change.

The U.S. Naturalizations Annual Flow Report is prepared annually by the Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) and contains information on the number and characteristics of applicants aged 18 and over who have naturalized in the United States.

The German naturalization statistics record the number of naturalization procedures completed in the reporting year, this takes place when the naturalization certificate is issued. The application may have been submitted before the reporting year. In general, the duration of the procedure can vary between the submission of the application and the handing over of the naturalization certificate. Changes in the administrative processes can affect the duration of the proceedings.

Naturalizations according to Art 116 (2) Basic Law (GG) are considered old cases and reparation cases: naturalization of former German citizens who were deprived of their German citizenship for political, racial or religious reasons from 1933 to 1945, as well as the naturalization of their descendants about data quality and the correct interpretation of the data can be found in our quality report.

Additional Information:

Information about the US beyond politics can be found in our Country profile.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

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