Students in a German language class/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Language test preventing more Africans from joining spouses in Germany, official figures show

Last year, more than 13,000 people failed the German-language tests required for reunification with their spouses living in Germany. Failure rates were particularly high in African countries. Critics say the language requirements are too stringent and are hindering people from exercising their right to family life.

According to a new report by the news agency Evangelischer Pressedienst (epd), 13,607 people seeking to join their spouses in Germany failed to pass the required language test last year.

The figures were contained in a response of the federal government to a written question by Gökay Akbulut, a member of the federal parliament (Bundestag) for the Left Party.

According to the report, a total of 40,165 people passed the language test in 2022. Hence, about one third of the people who sat for the exams failed.

The epd reported especially high failure rates in Ethiopia, with 61 per cent of those who took the test failing, Ghana (55.5%) and Senegal (52.4%).

If the husband or wife are living outside Germany and want to join their spouse in Germany, they must first demonstrate a basic proficiency of the German language prior to their departure. This is a requirement for the issue of a residency permit, which they will need to enter Germany. There are exceptions, for example, for highly qualified professionals.

Critics say the language requirements are too stringent and that they are denying people from enjoying their fundamental right to family life.

Akbulut, who herself is of Turkish origin, said the language requirements for spousal reunification were “socially selective”. She described the failure rates in African countries as unacceptably high. “This also makes the regulation quite clearly contrary to European law because the right to family reunification is made unreasonably difficult.”

According to Germany’s Foreign Ministry, a total of 71,127 people received a visa for spousal reunification in 2022, including people who had passed their tests in previous years. Most of them came from India (8,930 people), followed by Turkey (8,778 people) and Lebanon (5,006 people).

According to the Ministry, a total of 71,127 people received a visa for spousal reunification in 2022. Most of them came from India (8,930 people), followed by Turkey (8,778 people) and Lebanon (5,006 people).

Sola Jolaoso

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