New German law easing path to dual citizenship comes into force

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New German law easing path to dual citizenship comes into force

A long-debated citizenship law took effect in Germany on Thursday, easing the pathway to a German passport, including making it easier to hold dual citizenship.

The naturalization reform put forward by Germany's three-party centre-left coalition government allows people to become German while retaining their original citizenship.

People can now apply for citizenship after living in Germany for five years, instead of the previous requirement of eight years, provided they meet all conditions.

Children born in Germany to parents from abroad will also be granted German citizenship if one parent has been a legal resident in Germany for five years rather than eight.

If applicants demonstrate "special integration achievements" through particularly good performance at school or work or civic engagement, they may be able to be naturalized after only three years.

An important aspect of the new rule is that people who obtain their German citizenship will not have to give up the citizenship of their native country, previously only possible for residents from other EU countries in Germany.

Likewise Germans who wish to become citizens of another country will no longer need special authorization from the German authorities. Previously, without authorization, they would have lost their German citizenship if they acquired another one.

"Many people have been waiting for this for decades," said Germany's Commissioner for Integration Reem Alabali-Radovan, a member of the ruling centre-left Social Democrats (SPD). With the reform, Germany finally has "a citizenship law that is in line with the times," she added.

Germany's liberal Free Democrats (FDP), a junior partner in the coalition government, said that while the waiting time for naturalization will be reduced, the overall requirements for obtaining German citizenship will not be lowered with the new regulations.

"Obtaining a German passport will be faster in the future, but it will be more challenging due to significantly stricter naturalization requirements," said FDP lawmaker Stephan Thomae.

Thomae said that a higher number of applications may not lead to a significant increase in naturalizations in the long term.

This is due to new requirements stipulating that applicants must be financially independent as well as stricter tests to prevent the naturalization of individuals with anti-Semitic views or conflicting values, Thomae said.


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