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Germany’s New Citizenship Reform: Easier Pathways and Dual Nationality

Germany is set to implement significant citizenship reform on June 27, which promises to ease the naturalization process for immigrants, allowing them to obtain citizenship in as little as three years, according to Schengen News. The center-left coalition government introduced this reform to better acknowledge the contributions of immigrants to German society and to encourage their integration.

One of the most notable changes in the reform is the allowance of multiple citizenships, which marks a significant departure from Germany’s previously restrictive policies. Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser highlighted the reform’s significance, stating, “Finally, our law is doing justice to our diverse society. The message is very clear: You belong to Germany!” as reported by DW news outlet.

Despite Germany naturalizing 168,545 individuals in 2022, this figure represented only a small fraction—3.1%—of the foreign nationals residing in the country for more than a decade. The new changes are expected to significantly increase these numbers by streamlining the naturalization process. Key reforms include allowing applicants to retain their original nationality alongside German citizenship.

Furthermore, the residency requirement for naturalization has been reduced from eight years to five years, with provisions for reducing this period to three years for those showing special achievements in integration. Another significant change is that children born in Germany to foreign parents will automatically qualify for German citizenship if at least one parent has been legally residing in Germany for five years under permanent residency.

This reform also pays homage to the guest worker generation, particularly the Turkish workers who migrated to Germany in the 1960s, by enabling them to acquire citizenship without a naturalization test, provided they demonstrate conversational language skills.

Applicants, however, must affirm their commitment to Germany’s democratic principles and reject all forms of antisemitism, racism, or inhumane acts. The revised naturalization test will include questions to ensure this commitment.

Despite the positive outlook from the government, opposition parties such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the Christian Democrats (CDU) have expressed concerns, arguing that the reform might devalue the German passport. Nevertheless, the government insists that these changes will foster better integration and mirror the evolving dynamics of German society.

 

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