The Bundesrat, the upper chamber of the federal parliament, has approved two further components of the new migration policy of the governing federal coalition – the laws on faster naturalisation and deportations.
The Bundesrat on Friday decided not to refer the citizenship law to the mediation committee. The new law, which was passed by the Bundestag in January, stipulates that immigrants can become citizens after just five years of residence in Germany, provided they can support themselves without state assistance. Previously, they had to live in the country for at least eight years.
If applicants perform well at school or at work, have good language skills or are involved in voluntary work, naturalisation should even be possible after just three years.
Anyone who wants a German passport should no longer have to give up their old one, opening the possibility of dual citizenship. The reform also applies to Germans who wish to become citizens of another country. They no longer require special authorisation from the German authorities. Without this authorisation, they would previously lose their German citizenship if they acquired another one.
Anyone who wants a German passport must be able to support themselves and their dependants. Those who, through no fault of their own, were dependent on social assistance or basic income support were previously subject to an exemption – but in future this will only apply to certain groups and cases. This change has been sharply criticised by social welfare associations.
The so-called Repatriation Improvement Act also received the obligatory support of the Bundesrat on Friday.
The law, which was also passed by the Bundestag in January, aims to ensure that criminals, dangerous offenders and smugglers in particular are deported more quickly. It contains a series of measures to make the enforcement of deportation orders more effective and to better enforce the obligation to leave the country for people without the right to stay.
For example, the maximum duration of detention pending deportation will be extended from 10 days to 28 days. In addition, the law makes it easier to search for information and documents to clarify the identity of persons to be deported. Authorities should also be able to enter premises other than the room of the foreigner to be deported in a shared accommodation facility.