Germany launches plan to modernise immigration laws and ease path to residency
The German federal government has launched a major overhaul of the country’s immigration system, designed to open up the possibility of long-term residence to more migrants. The first step targets refugees and asylum seekers with precarious residency statuses, while plans for easier naturalisation and a points-based immigration system are in the works for the autumn.
New law to give people denied asylum chance to remain in Germany
On Wednesday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet signed off a package of reforms that will open the prospect of permanent residency to many migrants currently trapped in legal limbo in Germany. Under current laws, migrants who have been denied asylum but cannot be deported for a multitude of reasons often remain in the country for years under the so-called “Duldung” (tolerance) status.
This kind of permit is often renewed multiple times in a row but never gives the holder the chance to work or provide for themselves, trapping them in a vicious cycle of uncertainty in which their stay is “tolerated” but they remain obliged to leave the country, with the threat of deportation hanging over them.
The new law would give a one-year residence permit - called a “right of opportunity to stay” - to anyone without a criminal record who has been living in Germany for more than five years. At the end of the 12 months, they would be given the permanent right to stay in Germany if they can demonstrate they are “well integrated”. This means that they would have to find a job and demonstrate good knowledge of the German language. Around 135.000 people are expected to benefit from the scheme.
“We are a diverse immigration country. Now we have to become a better integration country,” Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser wrote on Twitter. “I want to actively shape migration and integration, instead of reluctantly administering them as I have done for the past 16 years.”
Government planning major overhaul of German immigration system
The federal government has further plans to overhaul and modernise Germany’s immigration policies. The new draft law also contains paragraphs on consolidating the regulations held in the Skilled Immigration Act to make them more permanent, while also giving more people access to language and integration courses.
Then, before the end of the year, ministers plan to launch a second migration package. This is expected to include measures on making it easier for the so-called guest worker generation to obtain German citizenship and introducing a new kind of residence permit for skilled workers, dubbed an “opportunity card”, which would use a points-based system.
A government spokesperson said, “Today we are setting the first milestone, [and] more will follow in the autumn: we want to abolish employment bans, modernise our immigration law, and enable more naturalisations.”