I have been living in Berlin since October 2019 and have been working full-time continuously since January 2020. I have a question regarding the time frame within which one can actually and legally start applying for citizenship (preparation and sending of relevant documents, contact with the appropriate office etc. etc.), whether or not there are changes to citizenship laws and wait times, as claimed by the coalition government.

I was told that I could obtain German citizenship after 6 years of working and residing in Germany, which would be 2026 in my case. However, if no one can start applying after, say, 4 years of working and residing in Germany in preparation for the 6-year threshold AND if the processing time (at least in Berlin) takes 1 or 2 years, then technically no one can get it after only 6 years, they can only start the application process after 6 years. Is it correct? Same with the residence permit, can you prepare it in advance (say a year or a year and a half before) or do you really have to wait AFTER the legal deadline to start the application process?

Berlin is notorious for long administrative delays and understaffed offices, which is why I’m even willing to move to another state and region of Germany if it means I can speed up my residence permit processes and citizenship application and start maybe around 2024. . Are there regions in Germany or states where the process of applying for residence permits and citizenship is much faster and less complicated? Any information, insight or help from other Berliners or just other expats on this would be great.