Berlin Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) wants to make naturalization easier with a reform of citizenship law and thus simplify the integration of migrants. A ministry spokesman told the Handelsblatt that the draft of a corresponding law will “soon” go through the internal government departmental vote.
According to this, people in particular who have been living in Germany for several years should be able to become German citizens more quickly. In addition, dual citizenship should be made possible. The opposition immediately criticized the project.
Union Parliament Secretary Thorsten Frei (CDU) warns: “The German passport must not become junk.” German citizenship must come at the end and not at the beginning of the integration process, Frei told the “Bild” newspaper. Everything else endangers cohesion in Germany.
The deputy head of the Union faction, Andrea Lindholz (CSU), also criticized that “practically everyone” should get a German passport. “Foreigners in Germany are thus deprived of a great incentive to integrate.” The SPD domestic politician Hakan Demir accused the Union of “shaming” on the backs of people “who do everything to arrive here well and to belong”.
The aim of the reform is to “generally allow multiple nationalities”
The federal government explains the need for reform by saying, among other things, that the general deadline that has been in place so far, after which people can only become citizens after eight years of residence in Germany, is too long.
Faeser wants to make naturalization easier
According to the draft law, the period should be reduced to five years. In the case of “special integration achievements”, naturalization is even possible after three years. This should apply, for example, if immigrants have been particularly committed, for example through school or professional achievements, voluntary work or particularly good language skills.
The government also wants to create simpler rules for children and senior citizens. Children born in Germany to foreign parents should automatically become Germans if one parent has had their “lawful habitual residence” in Germany for five years. So far, this has only been the case after eight years.
For seniors who are older than 67 years, Faeser’s Ministry of the Interior wants to delete the formal language certificates previously required. Instead, the “ability to communicate orally” should suffice in the future. With easier naturalization, the aim is to honor the special lifetime achievements of the generation of guest workers, who have made a significant contribution to the development of the country.
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The reform is also intended to abolish a key principle of German law that has been practiced only rarely: the avoidance of multiple nationalities. The goal of the reform is to “generally allow multiple nationalities,” the paper says.
For integration, language skills, education, professional integration and, for example, “a commitment to the free democratic basic order are far more important than the question of whether someone has one or more nationalities”.
In any case, the old legal principle no longer corresponds to current practice. For more than 15 years, more than half of the naturalizations “almost consistently” have been “accepted for multiple nationalities,” the draft concedes.
Migration experts support rapid naturalization
SPD parliamentary group leader Dirk Wiese also sees the traffic light plans as a measure against the shortage of workers and skilled workers. “With these proposals, we are also making Germany more attractive as a location for skilled workers and are adapting our law to international standards,” said Wiese to the newspapers of the Funke media group.
The FDP parliamentary group leader Christian Dürr also argued with the need for manpower. “Hardly any other country is as desperately dependent on immigration as Germany – and in hardly any other country are people who want to work and contribute something put so many obstacles in their way,” said Dürr. “However, it is important to us that we advance migration into the labor market, not into the social security systems.”
Citizenship cannot come at the end of integration; it is an essential element of successful integration. DIW President Marcel Fratzscher
The President of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), Marcel Fratzscher, welcomed the plans of the federal government. “Germany’s skilled labor problem will be exacerbated massively by demographics and increasing competition for the brightest minds if politicians don’t act much more decisively than before,” he said. “A clear perspective on nationality is an important element in making Germany more attractive for foreign skilled workers.”
The DIW boss reacted to criticism from the Union with incomprehension. “Some politicians in Germany seem to want to return to the outdated concept of citizenship based on descent and not where people have their livelihoods.” With this attitude, Germany will neither solve its skilled worker problem nor support the integration of foreign fellow citizens. “Citizenship cannot come at the end of integration; it is an essential element of successful integration,” stressed the DIW boss.
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The Advisory Council for Integration and Migration (SVR) had already spoken out in favor of optimizing citizenship law and shortening the deadlines for naturalization.
The deputy chairman of the committee, Daniel Thym, spoke last year of incentives for immigrants who live in Germany, who are economically and socially particularly well integrated, who speak German very well and who have an impeccable police clearance certificate. “They should benefit from turbo naturalization,” says Thym.
The reform is still at an early stage. According to information from government circles, the reform proposal is currently before the Chancellery. Coordination between the ministries should begin next week.
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