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German parliament to debate dual citizenship law 'in November'

Imogen Goodman
Imogen Goodman - [email protected]
German parliament to debate dual citizenship law 'in November'
A view of the German Reichstag, the seat of the Bundestag, on German Unity Day 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Monika Skolimowska

Germany's long-awaited citizenship reforms will have their first reading in the Bundestag in the second week of November, according to the Interior Ministry.

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After passing a vote in the cabinet in August, proposals to ease citizenship will go to a first reading in the Bundestag on either the 9th or 10th of November. 

This marks the first stage in passing a bill that will significantly relax the naturalisation process for foreigners. 

Hakan Demir - an SPD politician who has been working on the development of the new law - set out the predicted timeline in response to a  parliamentary question he answered online at the end of September. 

READ ALSO: 'Finally': German government approves sweeping citizenship reforms

"According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the first reading in the Bundestag will take place on November 9th or 10th," he wrote. 

This is the first step in the parliamentary review process before the bill can be voted on by the lower and upper houses of parliament: the Bundestag and the Bundesrat. 

Faster routes to gaining German citizenship and permitting dual nationality could subsequently become a reality by next spring, Demir said. 

"It is planned that the citizenship reform will then come into force in April 2024 - and that this will also enable multiple citizenships and accelerated naturalisation," he explained.

Liberalised rules

Among the sweeping package of reforms are plans to reduce the residence requirements in Germany to five years in ordinary cases and to three in cases of special integration and advanced German language skills.

People over the age of 67 will no longer be asked to sit a formal B1 language exam when applying for citizenship. Instead, authorities will simply gauge whether they are able to communicate competently in German.

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In addition, people from non-EU countries will be permitted to hold more than one nationality, meaning somebody from Australia or Turkey, for example, will no longer have to give up their existing passports to gain a German one.

In a press conference announcing the changes back in August, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) said the reforms would create "a modern naturalisation law that's worthy of our diverse society".

Permitting the holding multiple nationalities will go some way to correcting years of unfair treatment of foreign populations - most notably the Turkish guest worker generation that arrived in Germany in the 1950s and 60s, Faeser said.

However, critics from the conservative CDU have accused the government of wanting to "flog off" German passports and lower the barriers to integration.

READ ALSO: 'Removing hurdles': How are Germans reacting to citizenship reform plans?

There have also been controversies over plans to tighten up the financial requirements for foreigners who want to gain German citizenship.

In future, the majority of applicants will have to prove they can support themselves and their families without any reliance on social support such as unemployment benefits or housing allowance.

This could discriminate against people with young children or those with long-term disabilities, critics have claimed.

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