Germany's new citizenship rules to boost migration, open up job market

New draft legislation proposes a multiple citizenship option and cuts the required residency years before naturalisation

By Reuters

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz poses with students as he hosts the annual Girls' Day event. —AFP
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz poses with students as he hosts the annual Girls' Day event. —AFP

Published: Fri 19 May 2023, 6:52 PM

Germany's interior ministry published draft legislation aimed at making it easier for people to apply for citizenship, as Berlin seeks to boost migration and open up the job market in Europe's biggest economy.

The draft proposes a multiple citizenship option and cuts the required residency years before naturalisation down to five or three years from the previous eight.


German language requirements for citizenship would also be eased for members of the so-called "Gastarbeiter" generation, many of them Turkish, who came to Germany in the 1950s and 60s as migrant workers.

"We want people who have become part of our society to be able to help shape our country democratically," Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in a statement, adding that examples from countries like Canada show this perspective was crucial to attract the skilled workers Germany needs.


The German government last year agreed plans to reform its immigration law, as Berlin seeks to open the job market to much-needed workers from outside the European Union to fill hundred of thousands of vacancies in sectors from gastronomy and childcare to IT and renewable energies.

At the end of 2021, around 72.4 million people with German citizenship and around 10.7 million with foreign citizenship were living in Germany, of whom around 5.7 million had been in Germany for at least 10 years.

The bill has been contested within the government's ruling coalition and by the conservative opposition party, saying the legislation might encourage illegal migration while removing incentives for migrants to fully integrate.

The draft says anyone who wants to be naturalized in Germany must commit to the values of a free society, which includes the dignity and equality of all people.

"Anyone who does not share these values or even acts contrary to them may not become a German citizen," it says.


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