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Germany to launch campaign informing foreigners about new citizenship law

Imogen Goodman
Imogen Goodman - [email protected]
Germany to launch campaign informing foreigners about new citizenship law
A newly naturalised British/German dual national holds up both of their passports. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Holger Hollemann

When Germany's new citizenship law enters into force in June 2024, a website and nationwide information campaign will be launched alongside it to tell people how - and why - to apply for citizenship.

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According to a report in German daily Bild, the advertising campaign will kick off on the same date the new rules enter into force - most likely on June 27th - providing foreigners with guidance for their applications.

This was confirmed by the Interior Ministry on Thursday in response to an enquiry by The Local.

Bild refers in its report to a letter written by Reem Alabali-Radovan (SPD), the Federal Commissioner for Integration, to the ministers in the governing traffic-light coalition. 

In it, Alabi-Radovan writes that the campaign will inform would-be applicants "about the requirements and procedures for naturalisation" in order to speed up the work of the local authorities. According to Bild, this information will be available in both German and English. 

As well as pamphlets, there will also be a website where applicants can find relevant information on the new law and explanatory videos, Alabi-Radovan writes.

The government will also take to social networks like X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook to answer questions from foreigners, and will feature stories from successful applicants in their advertising campaigns. 

Currently, there are numerous groups on social media where foreigners can pose questions on the citizenship process and share their experiences.

However, the vast majority of these are run by unofficial sources.

READ ALSO: Where to get free immigration advice in Germany

An influx of applications

With the governing coalition planning to relax many of its rules for naturalisation on June 27th, authorities are expected a tidal wave of applications from foreigners in the country. 

Along cutting ordinary residence requirements from eight years to five, a previous ban on dual nationality for non-EU citizens will be lifted, allowing applicants to keep their existing passports after naturalisation. 

There will also be carve-outs designed to make it easier for members of the Turkish guest-worker generation to naturalise, for example by scrapping the need for formal language tests for this group. 

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Back in March, the head of Berlin's Landesamt für Einwanderung (LEA), Engelhard Mazanke, referred to the government's upcoming advertising campaign and said he expected that as many as 80,000 people to submit an application this year when the new law comes into force.

However, this is a conservative estimate: according to the LEA, around 330,000 people in Berlin would be eligible to apply after the new law kicks in. 

READ ALSO: Foreigners in Berlin furious over German citizenship delays

Though Berlin is an extreme case, residents in many other parts of the country such as Hamburg and North-Rhine Westphalia already wait more than a year for their citizenship applicants to be processed.

This has sparked concern among foreigners that the new law may exacerbate the long waiting times and hefty backlogs. 

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