Germany aims at modernizing citizenship law

Germany’s Ministry of the Interior has published draft legislation aimed at modernizing the country’s citizenship law. It proposes a multiple-nationality option and makes it easier for people to apply for citizenship.

The required residency years before naturalization would be reduced from eight to five years, the ministry said in a statement. In the case of “special integration achievements,” such as good language skills, voluntary work, or very good job performance, the requirement would be three years.

“We want people who have become part of our society to be able to help shape our country democratically,” Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser said. “Acquisition of citizenship is the strongest commitment to Germany.”

At the end of 2021, around 72.4 million people with German citizenship and around 10.7 million with foreign citizenship lived in Germany. Of the latter, around 5.7 million had already been in Germany for at least ten years, according to the ministry.

The share of citizenships granted in Germany to the foreign population that has been living in the country for at least ten years was permanently low, the ministry said. In 2021, it was only 2.45 percent. Germany also has a particularly low citizenship rate in a European Union (EU) comparison.

“We are making the citizenship process easier for people who make a living from working with their own hands,” Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann said on Friday on Twitter. “Rules for people who live off the welfare state will be tightened. This sets incentives to take up work and shows: We want immigration into the labor market, not into the welfare state.”

The reform aims to ensure that certain crimes, such as racist, inhumane, or anti-Semitic acts, would exclude applicants from attaining citizenship. “There is no tolerance in this regard,” Faeser said. ■

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