Posted on August 24, 2023

Germany Slashes Citizenship Residency Rules From 8 to 3 Years to Boost Naturalizations

Thomas Brooke, Remix, August 24, 2023

The duration that foreign nationals must reside in Germany before applying for citizenship will drop from eight to five years, and as low as three years for some, in new plans approved by the country’s federal government on Wednesday.

The move to fast-track naturalization for foreign workers is an attempt by the German government to counter the decline in attractiveness for migrant workers in recent years and boost the country’s competitiveness for skilled workers, the government said.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the federal government was taking “the important next step with the new citizenship law” after already easing visa restrictions for prospective migrant workers.

“A modern citizenship law is therefore also a decisive key for the competitiveness of Germany as a business location,” she said on Wednesday.

Under the plans, the standard time period a foreign national must spend living and working in Germany before applying for citizenship will be reduced from eight years down to five. However, applicants who can prove a high level of integration in the country, by showing advanced language proficiency, for example, will be able to obtain citizenship after just three years.

These rules will apply to those of good standing, and applicants with criminal records that are “irreconcilable with commitment to the free democratic basic order” will be barred.

Foreign nationals who have relied on the German welfare state will not be eligible for citizenship until they have proven to be financially self-sufficient, and failed asylum seekers who remain in the country due to deportation bans back to their country of origin will also not be eligible.

Additionally, the draft law will also facilitate the formal recognition of dual citizenship in Germany, meaning that applicants wishing to apply for German citizenship will no longer be required to relinquish their initial citizenship when obtaining a German passport.

Faeser hailed this as a progressive move for the country which will mean that foreign nationals will no longer be “forced to give up part of their identity,” while conservative opponents claim it encourages applicants who lack commitment to Germany and its liberal values.

Thorsten Frei, a senior MP for the opposition CDU party, claimed the government’s commitment to easing citizenship is evidence of the liberal coalition focusing on “the wrong priorities,” focusing on foreign nationals instead of improving the lives of ordinary Germans.

He added that the government should not be facilitating mass migration through “open doors” and by offering “the lowest requirements possible for acquiring German citizenship.”

“German citizenship is something very precious; something one should treat very carefully,” added CDU party leader Friedrich Merz.

“Things can’t happen fast enough for the abolitionists of Germany – now German citizenship is also being sold at a discount,” tweeted Alice Wiedel, the co-leader of the hardline nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Already last year, a record number of young Syrian males were granted citizenship in Germany, and the coming years are expected to bring a tidal wave of naturalizations from the Middle East and Africa. Critics of the relaxation of citizenship laws also point out that the policy will achieve two vital goals for the left-liberal government. For one, they will boost their voting pool dramatically at a time when their parties are sinking in the polls and the anti-immigration AfD party is surging.