In a landmark move, Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, voted Friday to simplify naturalization and widen access to dual citizenship. This reform aims to make the country more attractive to skilled workers and address its ongoing labour shortage.
Out of the 639 votes cast, the legislation secured 382 affirmative votes, 234 against, and 23 abstentions.
Key Rule Changes
Shorter Waiting Periods: Under the revised law, foreigners can now apply for German citizenship after residing there for five years, a reduction from the previous eight-year requirement. In cases of exceptional integration, applicants may qualify for naturalization after just three years.
Expanded Dual Citizenship: While dual nationality is typically restricted to citizens of other EU countries or Switzerland, the updated rules pave the way for individuals from any origin to gain direct access to dual citizenship.
Focus On Integration: While easing the path to citizenship, the government intends to strengthen requirements for self-sufficiency and commitment to Germany’s democratic values.
Motives and Impact
Attracting Skilled Labour: Interior Minister Nancy Faeser sees this move as crucial in attracting international talent, stating, “We need to compete with countries like the U.S. and Canada, and offering citizenship is part of the package.”
Boosting Integration: The reform potentially grants voting rights to tens of thousands of third-generation Turkish immigrants, fostering integration and civic engagement.
Opposition’s Concerns and Stance
The CDU-CSU bloc opposed the amendments, expressing the need to safeguard the value of German citizenship. Seeking a more stringent stance on immigration, the opposition aims to counter the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which has gained traction in recent polls.
Despite the legislative push for easier naturalization, the government remains committed to tightening immigration policies in specific cases, focusing on individuals unable to support themselves or those not aligned with the “free, democratic basic order in Germany.”
In a separate move, the Bundestag also approved a bill extending custody to prevent last-minute deportation failures, increasing the legal maximum detention period from 10 to 28 days.