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New German Law to Extend Citizenship to Millions of Foreigners Residing in the Country


The German Federal Government has today given the green light to a new citizenship law, that intends to grant citizenship to foreign nationals living in the country under facilitated rules and procedures.

Amongst others, the new rules will shorten the required period of residence in Germany from eight to five years and will grant children born in Germany with citizenship if one of their parents has been living in the country for five years.

Welcoming the approval of the law by the Federal government, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said that the new law is one of the most important reforms of this traffic light coalition governing Germany, highlighting the importance that modern immigration law has for the country to be at the upfront of the global competition for the brightest minds.

A modern citizenship law is therefore also a decisive key for the competitiveness of Germany as a business location. The Skilled Immigration Act has already been passed – now we are taking the important next step with the new citizenship law,” the Minister said.

According to the Ministry, around 5.3 million of the 12 million foreign nationals currently in Germany have been living in the country for at least ten years.

This shows that a significant part of the people who have had their center of life in Germany for years and have long been an integral part of society are not able to participate and contribute democratically on an equal footing,” the Ministry says.

Once the law starts applying, millions of them will gain the right to become German nationals, and benefit from all the rights German citizenship comes with.

In a statement issued today following the approval of the new law, the Ministry of Interior has listed out the following, as the key points of the bill:

  • Successful integration, good knowledge of German language and the ability to earn a living independently will be mandatory in the future for naturalization
  • Citizenship by naturalization will be granted after five years of residence in Germany instead of the current eight
  • Naturalisation after three years will be possible for those who have achieved outstanding performance at work or do voluntary work, speak German well and are financially independent
  • All children born in Germany to foreign parents will receive German citizenship unconditionally if at least one parent has been living lawfully in Germany for more than five years
  • Naturalisation test will be abolished for guest and contract workers who have made a significant contribution to the development of Germany

The law, however, lays out a set of rules that foreigners who wish to become German passport holders must respect, including here commitment to the free democratic basic order.

Foreigners who disregard equality between men and women, and those living in polygamy will be excluded from the new citizenship benefits, too.

The government has also strongly reiterated that everyone who wishes to become a German citizen by naturalisation must be able to earn a living for themselves and their family members.

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