On Wednesday, the German government introduced a proposition to revise the nation’s citizenship law.
It must still be deliberated on by both houses of Parliament.
“This is one of the most important projects of the coalition,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said when presenting the reform to the press.
“There have been many debates, unfortunately marked by resentments… at the expense of people who have worked here and have made a contribution to our welfare,” Faeser said.
The plan allows for dual citizenship, simplifies the naturalization process and shortens the amount of time required before applying from eight years to five years.
Those who can demonstrate a high level of integration and advanced German language skills will be able to obtain citizenship after just three years under the draft proposal.
Those who are dependent on state support will not be eligible to apply for citizenship.
The German Press Agency (dpa) reported that the draft explicitly excludes people convicted of committing crimes for anti-Semitic or racist reasons.
The reform is also designed to simplify the path to citizenship for members of Germany’s “guest worker” generation that came in the 1960s, many from Turkey. Under the proposal, people from this generation will only need to pass an oral test to demonstrate their German language skills and not a written one.
The law would allow more people to gain dual nationality, including those from the Turkish community. Until now, the right to dual nationality has generally been limited to EU and Swiss citizens, although there are some exceptions.
Government seeks to plug labor shortages
Citizenship reform was a major pledge made by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition government, comprised of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the environmentalist Greens, which took power in late 2021.
Germany’s government is seeking to attract foreign workers to fill labor shortages.
“We are in the middle of a global competition for the best minds,” Faeser told the Redaktionsnetzwerk news service on Wednesday.
“But we will only win the best minds if they can become fully part of our society in the foreseeable future,” she said.Faeser added that the law reflected Germany’s “diverse society.”Faeser said that allowing dual citizenship would mean people are not “forced to give up part of their identity.”