Germany takes a progressive leap by easing citizenship rules

22 Jan 2024, 11 mins ago

In a bold move, Germany has recently implemented ground-breaking changes to its citizenship laws. The new legislation, passed with a majority of 382 votes to 234, is designed to make it easier for foreigners to obtain German citizenship, with a particular emphasis on attracting skilled workers to address critical labour shortages.

It has been reported that under the updated law, applicants can now apply for citizenship after residing in Germany for just five years, down from the previous eight. Moreover, individuals who actively integrate into German society, exhibiting proficiency in the language or engaging in voluntary work, can expedite their application process to a mere three years.

Perhaps the most notable change is the lifting of the ban on dual nationality for individuals from non-European Union countries. Nancy Faeser, the Interior Minister, highlights how this shift aligns Germany with other global leaders, such as the United States and Canada, in acknowledging and appreciating the contributions of foreign nationals to their respective nations. She expressed the need to make Germany an attractive destination for skilled individuals globally. “We must show our appreciation for the people who come to this country and contribute to keeping our society going,” she emphasised.

The new legislation stands in stark contrast to recent moves by some European nations tightening their naturalisation criteria. France, for instance, has passed a law meaning that children born to immigrant parents in France can request citizenship between the ages of 16 and 18, departing from the previous automatic acquisition.

These changes underscore the balance that Western governments strive to maintain, welcoming foreign workers whilst taking a firmer stance on illegal immigration. However, this move was met with resistance, as Alexander Throm, a spokesperson for the Christian Democrats, called it a “citizenship devaluation bill”.

Whilst the German government is taking a progressive stance on citizenship reform, ensuring that it aligns with European values and positioning the country as a beacon of inclusivity, right-wing parties are concerned with the demographic challenges that such a change might bring.

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