Federal Cabinet has paved the way for modern citizenship law
23 August 2023
Germany has taken another step towards becoming a modern country of immigration. New legislation will allow multiple citizenship and earlier naturalisation.
The Federal Cabinet has adopted draft legislation prepared by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community (BMI) to modernise Germany’s citizenship law. In doing so, the Federal Government is implementing a key promise made in the coalition agreement. Once the legislation has entered into force, foreign nationals living in Germany will have the opportunity to become naturalised German citizens much earlier than before. The new legislation will also allow multiple citizenship.
In future, foreign nationals living in Germany will be able to apply for naturalisation after as little as five years instead of the previous eight. Those who are particularly well integrated can even become naturalised after three years.
Multiple citizenship to be made possible
The draft legislation will also allow multiple citizenship in Germany, which will give immigrants the opportunity to participate in society without completely cutting off all personal ties to their countries of origin. “
We want people who have long since become a part of our society to also be able to participate in our country’s democratic process. In future, immigrants will no longer be forced to give up a part of their identity. By allowing multiple citizenship, we are carrying out a long-overdue paradigm shift,” Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser said.
German nationals who wish to acquire another citizenship may also retain their German citizenship without having to go through the complicated process of applying for permission to do so. This will make things a lot easier for German nationals living and working abroad.
Clear rules for naturalisation
The draft legislation submitted by the BMI sets out clear rules for the acquisition of German citizenship. For instance, those who wish to become naturalised German citizens must demonstrate that they are well integrated, possess good German language skills and are able to support themselves without having to rely on social assistance.
Minister Faeser also clarified:
“We will not allow those who express racism, antisemitism or any other form of hatred to become citizens – on this point there will be no tolerance.” Individuals who want to acquire German citizenship must therefore clearly commit to upholding the values of a free society. Those who do not share the values of dignity, equality of all people and equal rights of men and women or who act in violation of them cannot become German citizens.
Honouring the contribution of the “guest worker” generation
“Guest workers” in western Germany and “contract workers” in the former GDR made a vital contribution to Germany’s economic development. In the past, they had little opportunity to take part in integration programmes. For this reason, they will not have to fulfil as many requirements to become naturalised German citizens. Instead of having to demonstrate written German language skills, proof that the person is able to communicate without difficulty in German in daily life will be sufficient. In addition, members of the “guest worker” generation will not be required to take a citizenship test.
In future, children born in Germany to foreign parents will be able to acquire German citizenship without reservation and to retain the citizenship of their parents if at least one parent has been a legal resident of Germany for at least five years (the former requirement was eight years) and has a permanent right of residence. Early acquisition of German citizenship can play a very important role: studies have shown that educational attainment of children born in Germany with foreign roots is significantly higher if they acquire German citizenship at an early age.
Modern citizenship law to advance Germany’s Skilled Labour Strategy
Germany is competing in the global marketplace for skilled labour. By introducing the Skilled Immigration Act, the Federal Government has approved an important element of its strategy to foster immigration of skilled workers. “But we will only be able to attract the brightest minds if they can become an integral part of our society within the near future. That is why modern citizenship law is also key to ensuring Germany’s competitiveness,” Minister Faeser explained. She added that modernised citizenship law is an important step towards Germany becoming a modern country of immigration.