In a significant development set to reshape Germany’s citizenship landscape, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has issued a strong call for foreigners residing in Germany to consider applying for German citizenship. This move comes as part of impending alterations to the German citizenship law, which are slated to usher in a new era of inclusivity and participation for migrants in the country.
Speaking during an episode of the popular podcast “Machiavelli – Rap und Politik,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz passionately encouraged all eligible foreigners living in Germany to seize the opportunity to obtain German citizenship. He emphasized that these individuals have contributed significantly to the nation and that acquiring citizenship would enable them to actively engage in the country’s political processes.
Currently, only holders of EU passports have the privilege of applying for dual German citizenship, and only German passport holders are eligible to vote in federal elections. However, should the proposed citizenship draft law be approved by the Bundesrat on September 29, a substantial number of long-term permanent residents in Germany are expected to seek citizenship.
New Criteria for German Citizenship
Under the latest draft of the law, approved by cabinet members on August 23, migrants living in Germany will be eligible to apply for a German passport after just five years of residency, a reduction from the previous requirement of eight years. Furthermore, certain individuals, demonstrating proficiency in the German language, voluntary community involvement, or notable professional achievements, may be eligible for German citizenship after residing in the country for as little as three years.
One of the most notable changes is the provision allowing non-EU citizens to hold dual citizenship with their newly acquired German passport, a privilege previously limited to EU citizens alone.
Regarding the criteria for children born within Germany or to at least one German parent, the law aims to streamline the process. Under the proposed changes, children born to foreign parents will be eligible for German citizenship if one of their parents has been a legal resident in Germany for five years, rather than the current eight-year requirement.
In a nod to Germany’s “Gastarbeiter generation,” the new law is set to relax language requirements for citizenship applicants aged 67 and older. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has described this change as a recognition of the invaluable contributions made by this generation to the country.
However, there are stricter eligibility rules in one particular area – social security benefit claimants. Currently, individuals with a German residence permit can apply for citizenship if they receive specific types of social security benefits. With the impending law, the types of benefits that may support a successful citizenship application are expected to change.
As Germany prepares to embrace these sweeping changes to its citizenship law, the nation anticipates a more diverse and engaged citizenry, symbolizing a significant step towards greater inclusivity and participation in its democratic processes.