German Lawmakers Agree to Ease Path to Citizenship

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Lawmakers in Berlin approved legislation allowing shorter waiting periods before naturalization and the possibility of dual citizenship, ushering in changes that proponents say will draw more skilled workers to the country and that opponents warn will lessen the value of German citizenship.

“Our reform is a commitment to a modern Germany,” Nancy Faeser, the country’s interior minister, said in a statement. “We are creating a modern immigration law that does justice to our diverse society,” she added, noting that it was high time for such a change.

The changes, which were passed by the Bundestag, Germany’s Parliament, on Friday with a solid majority, will reduce to five years from eight the number of years that a resident has to wait before applying for citizenship. That waiting period can be reduced to three years for exemplary cases of integration or service to the German state.

They will also allow dual citizenship, which currently is not widely allowed.

Roughly 14 percent of the people living in Germany are not citizens. Acknowledging their work in helping to build the German economy in the 1960s and ’70s, the changes include a stipulation that allows older applicants who came to Germany on guest worker programs to obtain citizenship without having to take a written exam.

Until a previous change that became law in 2000, German citizenship had only been bestowed on those who could prove their German lineage or who had been born to German parents. But since then, the country has become more welcoming to immigrants, with one in four Germans having at least one grandparent who was born outside of Germany.

Businesses have long complained of a dearth of skilled workers. The German Economic Institute calculated that roughly 630,000 jobs went unfilled in 2022 because not enough qualified people applied.

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German Lawmakers Agree to Ease Path to Citizenship

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