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Germany announces residents can apply for citizenship after five years, down from eight years

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The German parliament has approved a law which allows individuals to apply for citizenship after residing in Germany for five years, down from the previous requirement of eight years.

CN learns that the parliament approved this by a margin of 382 votes to 234, easing the path to citizenship for foreigners to address a severe shortage of skilled workers in Berlin.

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The law further states that those who demonstrate significant efforts to integrate, such as having a proficiency in German or voluntary work, can apply after three years. The law also removes the ban on dual nationality for individuals from non-EU countries.

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This move distinguishes Germany from other European countries tightening naturalization criteria. Notably, a recent French immigration law requires children born in France to immigrant parents to request citizenship between the ages of 16 and 18, rather than acquiring it automatically.

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Attracting skilled individuals to the German workforce, enabling easier German citizenship

Nancy Faeser, the interior minister, emphasized the need to attract skilled individuals worldwide, akin to practices in the US and Canada. The law aims to express gratitude to those contributing to German society.

Reem Alabali-Radovan, the government’s integration commissioner, highlighted the enfranchisement of millions who are not yet full members of society. Approximately 10 million people residing in Germany lack a German passport, with 5.7 million having lived in the country for at least a decade.

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Alabali-Radovan emphasized that integral members of society should have the right to vote and be elected.

Opposition to the new law

Alexander Throm, the domestic policy spokesman for the opposition Christian Democrats, criticized the German law, stating it “devalues citizenship” and moves in the wrong direction.

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Throm contrasted this with countries like France, which, through recent experiences, have been tightening naturalization rules, while Germany is significantly reducing requirements.

Interestingly, this legislation follows closely on the heels of another law ratified by the German parliament, which facilitates the deportation of foreigners.

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The combination of these two measures highlights the delicate balancing act that western governments must navigate—simultaneously aiming to attract more foreign workers to address demographic deficits while adopting a stricter stance on illegal immigration.

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