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23 July, 2024
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What's new in Germany's citizenship law?

A pathway to dual citizenship and inclusion


The German government has introduced a new citizenship law, proposed by Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, aiming to streamline the process of acquiring dual citizenship and obtaining naturalization for non-EU citizens. Faeser emphasized the significance of this reform in the context of a broader overhaul of Germany's immigration policies, aimed at addressing labor market shortages and attracting skilled workers.

The central modifications under the new law include:

1. Reducing the residency requirement for immigrants to apply for citizenship from eight years to five years, with the potential for accelerated citizenship after three years for individuals with exceptional achievements.
2. Granting automatic German citizenship to children born in Germany to at least one parent who has legally resided in the country for five or more years.
3. Offering an oral German language test option instead of a written exam for immigrants aged 67 and above.
4. Allowing multiple citizenships.
5. Establishing ineligibility for German citizenship for individuals reliant solely on state support.

Interior Minister Faeser explained that these changes reflect Germany's commitment to a modern and inclusive society. She emphasized that attracting highly qualified individuals necessitates their integration into the nation's fabric, complete with democratic rights.

The reform marks the outcome of ongoing efforts initiated by the center-left coalition comprising the Social Democrats, Greens, and Free Democrats, who took office in 2021.

The proposed legislation will undergo parliamentary debate and could become effective in the upcoming fall season.

As of now, approximately 12 million people, or 14% of the population, lack German citizenship, with five million residing in the country for over a decade. In contrast, 168,545 individuals sought German citizenship in 2022, falling below the European Union average.

Germany's new provisions align with practices across Europe, addressing concerns surrounding dual citizenship. The country's Federal Statistics Office reports that about 3.5% of the population (approximately 2.9 million people) holds multiple citizenships. This move aims to ensure parity with other European nations and promote integration.

Nevertheless, the proposed changes face opposition from the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the far-right Alternative for Germany party (AfD), each expressing reservations for distinct reasons. Proponents of the reform argue that it is long overdue, and experts contend that such measures would bring Germany in line with its European counterparts, fostering a more inclusive and diverse society.

For many in the Turkish community, which has a rich history in Germany, the reform represents overdue recognition and respect for their contributions to the country. The reforms' advocates anticipate positive impacts on the lives of immigrants and their descendants, fostering a sense of empowerment and belonging.

[With information sourced from DW]

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