Status: 11/28/2022 1:03 PM

The Cabinet will discuss the new naturalization rules on Wednesday, but there is already disagreement over the Interior Ministry’s plans. Exactly what changes do you envision?

initial situation

10.7 million people with foreign citizenship live in Germany, 5.7 million of whom have been here for at least ten years. The naturalization rate has been at a low level for a long time: only 2.45% of the population who have lived in Germany for at least ten years will be naturalized in 2021. Compared to other European countries, Germany is in third place. On average, 2% of the population living in the respective country has been naturalized in the European Union – in Germany it’s just 1.3%.

In order to reduce the naturalization hurdles, the Federal Ministry of the Interior wants to change the citizenship law. Even before the official political consideration, many politicians commented on the ministry’s draft. Interior Minister Nancy Visser told Tagesspiegel that the reform was long overdue and “a great opportunity to strengthen our social cohesion”. Germany wants to become a newly emigrated country, and that this also includes “naturalizing us faster, better and more,” Reem Elabali-Radovan, the federal government’s integration commissioner, told Funk Media Group newspapers.

The union has criticized the plans – it must continue to implement “integration first, then citizenship,” said CDU General Secretary Mario Zaga of the “Rheinisch Post”. Those who do not want integration should leave the country again, FDP faction leader Christian Dürr told Funk Media Group newspapers.

See also  Zelenska: Poland can be a pioneer in climate policy in the region (Interview)

What exactly are the obstacles that need to be removed?

The deadlines for how long you must live in Germany in order to obtain citizenship will be reduced. It should also be possible to acquire other nationalities in addition to the German language. For people over 67, language proficiency tests and the naturalization test are made even easier. Instead of some vague formulation, specific reasons should be given when naturalization is excluded.

What are the new deadlines planned?

Previously, people had to live in Germany for at least eight years before obtaining citizenship. According to plans by the Home Office, this minimum length of stay will be reduced to five years. In the case of people who have made special efforts, for example through school or professional achievements, volunteer work or particularly good language skills, the period can even be reduced to three years.

Children of persons holding foreign passports must acquire the nationality of their parents in addition to the German nationality without reservation if the parent concerned has been present in Germany for five years. Previously, the deadline was eight years.

Why should multiple citizenship be possible?

The Ministry of the Interior project provides for abandoning the principle of avoiding multinationalism. This means that people no longer have to renounce their citizenship in another country in order to obtain German citizenship. This aims to simplify and speed up the naturalization process.

See also  Gerhard Schroeder fails again in court

“For more than 15 years now, more than half of all naturalizations have been granted with acceptance from multiple nationalities,” the draft says. The trend is constantly increasing, with 59.3 percent of naturalizations in 2018 compared to 69 percent in 2021. This is also due to compensation naturalizations or delayed resettlement.

Migration expert Petra Bendel said in an interview that multinationalism will likely encourage more people to apply for German citizenship. “The research results show that the requirement to renounce prior citizenship upon naturalization is a major hurdle,” says Bendel.

Why are there special rules for the elderly?

Easier naturalization requirements should apply to people over 67 – for example, they just have to show that they can communicate in German in everyday life without any problems on an oral language test. You no longer have to take a naturalization test. The aim is to honor “the lifetime achievements of the so-called guest worker generation,” according to the draft. It has made a great contribution to economic and social development.

“Because guest workers were initially only supposed to stay in Germany temporarily for work purposes, they have received little or no integration offers – such as language support or integration courses – in the past,” the draft says.

More than two-thirds of those over 67 without German citizenship have resided in Germany for more than 25 years, and the average length of stay is 31 years, says migration expert Bendel.

What’s Next?

The draft that is now known is a bill by the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Its content has been revised several times. Then it is discussed and voted by the Cabinet – that is, all the ministers participating in the government under the guidance of the Federal Chancellor. It then becomes the official government draft, which can only be discussed in the Bundestag.