Dual citizenship law passes through German cabinet

Dual citizenship law passes through German cabinet

Cabinet members of the German government have voted to pass the country’s new citizenship reforms, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser announced at a press conference on August 23. Long spurned by Merkel-era governments, the reforms should ease the path to citizenship for non-Germans living and working in the federal republic.

German cabinet passes citizenship reforms

After a cabinet meeting to review the most up-to-date draft of the reforms, members of the German government’s cabinet have now given the go-ahead to the country’s citizenship reforms.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Interior Minister for the coalition government Nancy Faeser called the reform an "acknowledgement of a modern Germany" which is one of the "most important reform projects of the traffic-light coalition".

Faeser also pointed out that the German government hoped the reforms would encourage long-term residents in Germany to stay, and encourage new workers to come and feel welcomed. "We are in the middle of a global competition for the best minds and many areas of our economy urgently need workers, but the best minds will only come if they are granted all democratic rights within the foreseeable future of their arrival in Germany," Faeser said.

Back in May, the government announced that the law would be voted on in parliament by the end of summer 2023. Since then, federal state governments and other stakeholders have been reviewing the reform, before it was presented to the cabinet for approval.

Now that the bill has passed through cabinet it will face a vote in the German Bundestag. The date for the vote has not yet been announced, but it is likely to be shortly after parliament returns from summer recess on September 5.

What will change with the new citizenship law?

According to the newest draft, now approved by cabinet members, migrants living in Germany will be able to apply for a German passport after five years of residence rather than eight. In certain circumstances, where good German skills, voluntary work or impressive occupational achievements are proven, some people will be able to apply for a German passport just three years after moving to the country.

Additionally, the new law will allow non-EU citizens to hold dual citizenship with their new German passport. Until now, only EU citizens have been able to keep both their original passport and German passport simultaneously. Faeser said that this part of the reform will no longer force migrant workers in Germany to "give up a part of their identity". 

As it stands, children are entitled to German citizenship if they were born to at least one German parent, or were born within Germany to at least one parent who has lived here legally for a minimum of eight years. Under the newly drafted law, those born to foreign parents will be eligible for citizenship if one of their parents has been legally resident in Germany for five years rather than eight. In her press announcement, Faeser pointed out that the fact that children perform better at school if they are granted German citizenship early in life meant that this change was a vital addition to the reform.

At the moment, people who have a German residence permit are eligible to apply for citizenship if they are receiving some kinds of social security benefits, but not others. Which benefits residents can receive and still expect their application to be successful are also set to change with the new law.

Thousands already in the waiting line for citizenship

While the new reforms are good news for long-term residents of Germany, who will be able to vote and live more securely in the country once they have been granted citizenship, long queues for application processing are only expected to get worse if the law passes through the Bundestag.

At the moment, around 100.000 people are still waiting for their citizenship applications to be processed in Germany, with people in some areas reporting waits of three years. In some cases, applicants feel so fed up and neglected by the authorities that they have taken to suing the German government. According to the state of Berlin, over 60 people in the German city have filed lawsuits for inaction in the field of “citizenship law / naturalisation” in 2023 so far.

Germany finds itself in a double bind; with the country set to implement a new immigration law - that hopes to encourage more foreign workers to move to the country and fill a record-high worker shortage - and new citizenship reform at the same time, over-burdened and short-staffed administrative offices will face even more paperwork in the future.

Thumb image credit: ThomasAFink /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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MariaMann2 17:03 | 24 August 2023

What if I have my German language certificate, a permanent residence card from Germany but no longer live their. I have also taken and passed the citizenship test in order to received permanent residence because at the time I had, and still have a U.S. passport. What happens if I get German citienship, will I have to pay taxes even though I live in Portugal? Thank you.