The governing federal coalition has passed a bill to reform Germany’s citizenship law.
The bill, which was approved by the cabinet on Wednesday, provides for the simplification of naturalisation.
On the other hand, the government wants to make it more difficult for persons who cannot support themselves or who have already committed criminal offences in Germany to naturalise.
Among the features of the reform bill are that foreigners living legally in Germany will be able to apply for a German passport after only five years. Up to now, the requirement has usually been eight years.
In the case of “special integration achievements” of the applicants, naturalisation will even be possible after three years, according to the draft law. These achievements could be, for example, good language skills, voluntary work or very good performance in school or at work.
Until now, the principle that anyone who accepts German citizenship must renounce their old citizenship – with a few exceptions – has applied. In future, multiple citizenship is to be possible in principle.
In addition, all children born in Germany to foreign parents are to be granted German citizenship without further reservation if at least one parent has lived legally in Germany for more than five years. Previously, the residency requirement was eight years. Moreover, children born in Germany can obtain and permanently retain German citizenship and the citizenship of their parents.
The bill will become law after it has been passed in the Bundestag.
The Federal Ministry of the Interior puts the number of people living in Germany with foreign citizenship at around twelve million. Of these, about 5.3 million have been in Germany for at least ten years.