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Germany's historic new citizenship law passes final vote

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It is now set to be signed into law by Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier later this month.

What has happened

In a historic vote on February 2, 2024, the German Bundesrat, the upper house of parliament representing Germany's 16 federal states, passed a landmark reform to German citizenship laws. Let us remind you that the Bundestag had previously approved the law.

The main facts about the new regulation

The new law will simplify the requirements for naturalization and make dual citizenship possible in principle. Among other things, the law will allow someone to apply for German citizenship after living in the country for five years, rather than eight years as it was before.

For people who can prove that they are "specially integrated" (for example, if they have strong German language skills), naturalization should be possible after three years. For the first time, dual citizenship will be possible in principle for everyone, and not just for EU citizens, as was the case previously. 

The debates

The Bundesrat's approval came after lengthy debates between delegates from the Social Democrat (SPD) and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) parties. Malu Dreyer (SPD), the state premier for Rhineland-Palatinate, and Mahmut Özdemir (SPD), the State Secretary for Internal Affairs, both spoke in favor of the law, with Dreyer arguing that it was long overdue: "Millions of people have been waiting for this." She also added that the reform would pave the way for greater integration and strengthen social cohesion.

Ozdemir added: “By allowing multiple citizenship, we are no longer forcing people to give up part of their identity when naturalizing. This is already standard in many countries around the world.”

Baden-Württemberg's Interior Minister Thomas Strobl (CDU) opposed the law, saying that naturalization is an important reward that can only be achieved after someone has successfully integrated: "First you integrate, then naturalization follows."

He said that five years was not enough to acquire the German language skills needed for true integration. He also noted that changing the requirements would place additional strain on already overburdened authorities trying to process the applications.

The consequences

The Bundesrat's approval marks the end of months of debates, discussions and redrafts to the new citizenship law, which was set back multiple times on its way through parliament .

The law is now due to be signed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier later this month. It will come into force in three months. This means that the law will most likely begin to apply from the end of May 2024.

Source: I am Expat

Photo: Wikipedia

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Tags: Germany, Residence permit and citizenship, Immigration, Life abroad, Immigration programs

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