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A German language course in Goethe-Institut Lagos / Photo: Goethe-Institut Lagos

Language tests keep 1 in 3 foreign spouses from joining loved ones in Germany

One in three foreigners seeking to join a spouse in Germany is unable to do so because they fail to pass a basic language test. The failure rate was especially high for applicants from Iraq.

Nearly a third of foreigners seeking to join their spouses in Germany fail to pass a German language test in their homeland, preventing them from joining their partner.

Only foreigners who pass a basic German test in their country of residence are allowed to move to Germany to join a spouse. The regulation does not apply to EU citizens, Americans, Israelis, highly qualified individuals and spouses of recognized asylum-seekers.

Many applicants came from Turkey, Russia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Thailand, Vietnam and Iraq. The failure rate among Iraqi applicants was particularly high at almost 50%.

“Basic language skills” are defined by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) as the ability to understand simple sentences, introduce oneself, go shopping and ask directions. A person should also be able to fill out official forms.

The opposition Left Party criticized the regulations for spousal reunification as “completely unrealistic.”

The language test only serves “to keep families separated from each other for many years,” Left Party parliamentarian Gökay Akbulut told the Funke Media Group.

According to data provided by the government to a parliamentary inquiry from the Left Party and shown to the Funke Media Groupon in early May, 16,200 out of 48,130 test-takers failed to pass the Deutsch-1-Test in 2018.

“Learning the language in Germany would be much easier, cheaper and less burdensome for those impacted,” she added.

However, the government’s integration commissioner, Annette Widmann-Mauz of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), defended the regulations.

Foreigners need to have basic language skills when they arrive “so that they can find their way around from the very beginning and become established in society,” she said.

© DW

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