Fast-track German citizenship will require C1 language skills, SPD reveals
Germany will require C1 language skills for fast-track citizenship
While the German government is planning a significant liberalisation of citizenship laws, in an exclusive interview with The Local, a representative has announced that more advanced language skills will be required in the future to gain fast-track citizenship.
As it stands, people who are legally resident in Germany can apply for citizenship after eight years of living in the country. If a foreign resident officially passes a B2 German language test or proves that they are “exceptionally integrated”, then they can minimise the waiting period to six years.
Now, Germany’s coalition government is attempting to get reforms through the Bundestag and Bundesrat which would see residents be able to apply for citizenship after five years, with the fast-track time being reduced to just three years. But there is a new catch: fast-track applicants must now successfully prove that their German language leaning has reached C1 level.
The coalition government’s reforms have been spurned by the CDU / CSU, with the conservative party arguing that such reforms would reduce the German passport to “junk”. The new criteria for higher language skill standards could perhaps be a move by the SPD to quell such accusations.
Reaching C1 language level in Germany
Many people who move to Germany with little to no language skills find it hard to move past the first hurdles of speaking German. In comparison to neighbouring countries like The Netherlands or Denmark, newcomers are often surprised by some Germans’ lack of sympathy for new learners.
Residents who want to apply for a fast-track citizenship after six years must currently prove their B2 level. But on the German language learning journey, the jump between B2 and C1 level may be one of the most significant and difficult to make.
C1 level German speakers should be able to understand long, complex texts about subjects they are not necessarily familiar with. They should also be able to form structured, academic arguments and express themselves with fluency.
For these reasons, it is unlikely that a flood of fast-track applicants will be waiting in line for a citizenship test (Einbürgerungstest) if and when the policy comes into place. Speaking to The Local, SPD politician Hakan Demir said, “If people are really good at German and have C1, they’ve demonstrated that they want to stay in Germany and are interested in Germany. But I think that won’t be a big number. It’s hard to get C1 after just a couple of years - but we’ll give that chance to these people.”