German Parliament Approves Easing Citizenship Rules

German Parliament Approves Easing Citizenship Rules

German lawmakers have approved new legislation easing the rules on naturalisation and ending restrictions on holding dual citizenship

The German government says the bill should help make Germany more appealing to international skilled workers and help to alleviate labour shortages.

Parliament voted 382-234 for the plan with 23 lawmakers abstaining. The opposition fiercely opposed the initiative, claiming that it would cheapen German citizenship.

The New Bill

Under the approved legislation, foreigners will now become eligible for citizenship after residing in Germany for five years, or three years in cases of “special integration accomplishments,” as opposed to the previous requirements of eight or six years. 

German-born children will automatically become citizens if one parent has been a legal resident for five years, down from eight.

Another notable change is the removal of restrictions on dual citizenship. Previously, individuals from non-European Union countries and Switzerland generally had to renounce their original nationality upon acquiring German citizenship, with some exemptions. This amendment aligns Germany with neighbouring European nations like France and is seen as a strategic move to attract skilled professionals.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the change would help attract much-needed skilled workers as the country struggles with labour shortages.

“We also must make qualified people from around the world an offer like the US, like Canada, of which acquiring German citizenship is a part.”

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser

The legislation mandates that individuals seeking naturalisation must demonstrate the ability to support themselves and their families, with specific exemptions for “guest workers” who arrived in West Germany until 1974 and those who came to communist East Germany for employment.

The revised law reinforces the commitment of potential citizens to the “free democratic fundamental order,” explicitly stating that antisemitic and racist acts are incompatible with this commitment. Chancellor Scholz, in a video message, highlighted the importance of recognizing the contributions of individuals who have lived and worked in Germany for decades, reassuring them, “You belong in Germany.”

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