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The law on citizenship and dual citizenship in Germany comes into force, the conditions that must be met

The law on citizenship and dual citizenship in Germany comes into force, the

In Germany, the new citizenship law comes into effect on June 27. Foreigners can now become German faster. What are the conditions?

The red passport with the German coat of arms is well known and highly desired. It is not surprising, when it is known that German citizens enjoy almost unlimited freedom of travel, can live and work throughout the EU, have the right to vote in elections and can freely choose their profession.

The path to obtaining this passport is now simplified. The new Citizenship Law will apply in Germany from 27 June 2024. Many of the approximately 12 million foreigners in Germany can now apply for German citizenship.

1. Fast track to citizenship

After five years of legal residence in Germany, foreigners can apply for German citizenship. When it comes to the so-called "special effects on integration", obtaining citizenship is possible even after three years. This can be done by anyone who can prove a high level of language knowledge (level C2 or C1, which means the ability to communicate fluently), volunteering or particularly good performance at school or at work. Until now, foreigners have been able to apply for citizenship only after eight years of residence in the country.

The German government, made up of social democrats, environmentalists and liberals, hopes to increase the number of people who obtain citizenship and thereby create incentives for faster integration. Until now, the take-up rate of German citizenship has been low compared to the EU, but has recently increased. The opposition, made up of part of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the conservative CDU/CSU, fears that the German passport could now become "trash".

2. Necessary income

The previous prerequisites for obtaining German citizenship remain in force. Therefore, anyone wishing to obtain German citizenship must still be able to support themselves, i.e. have sufficient financial income. Here the rules will even be tightened, so that those with low incomes will find it more difficult to obtain German citizenship in the future.

3. There is no passport for racists and anti-Semites

Respecting and behaving according to the basic free democratic order provided by the Constitution is now mandatory for all applicants for German citizenship.

This specifically means that persons with anti-Semitic, racist or other anti-human attitudes cannot obtain a German passport. Even those who do not respect equal rights between men and women or live in polygamous communities cannot obtain German citizenship.

4. Germany's responsibility stemming from history

In the future there will also be a commitment to Germany's special historical responsibility. During the Nazi era, Germany began World War II by attacking Poland and killed an estimated six million European Jews as part of state-sponsored genocide.

For this reason, those who take German citizenship will have to declare themselves when it comes to protecting Jewish life and stopping the development of a war of aggression. Anyone who does not share this view cannot receive German documents. Therefore, the catalog of questions for the entrance exam will have to be adjusted.

5. German passport subject to revocation

Those who have lied during the citizenship process can lose their German citizenship within ten years. That's how it has been until now. Now, anyone who has not taken Germany's historical commitment and responsibility seriously will lose their German passport – for example if they spread anti-Semitic hate messages.

6. Dual citizenship for all

Those who wish to become German from now on do not have to give up their previous citizenship. This means that multiple citizenship is possible for all migrants. Previously, it was intended only for citizens of EU countries.

In this way, the German government wants to make it easier for people who have close feelings with their country of origin. The government justifies this decision with the position that factors such as knowledge of the language, education and commitment to democracy are more important for integration than another passport.

7. Benefits for guest workers (gastarbeiter) and contract workers in the GDR

Less stringent rules apply to people from the generation of so-called guest workers who came to West Germany between 1955 and 1972, as well as to GDR "contract workers" in East Germany. This is to honor their significant contribution to the development of Germany.

For these people, it is enough to communicate easily in German in everyday life as proof of knowledge of the language. In addition, they do not have to take the citizenship test (Leben in Deutschland).

8. Children can become German faster

Children of foreign parents acquire German citizenship if one parent has legally resided in Germany for more than five years. Previously, this was possible only after eight years. According to studies, children with foreign roots are more successful at school and at work the earlier they receive German citizenship.

However, the new regulation does not apply retroactively. This means that only children born after June 27, 2024 will benefit./DW