Record number of residents granted German citizenship in 2022
The number of residents that were issued their first German passport in 2022 was the highest in 20 years. People from 171 different countries took the final step to become German on paper.
Germany records highest annual number of naturalisations in 20 years
In 2022, 168.545 more people became officially German. The figure is a 28 percent rise on the previous year and, according to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), the annual number of successful naturalisations was higher than at any time in the past 20 years.
People of 171 nationalities successfully applied for a German passport in 2022, with the majority of those applicants (29 percent) holding Syrian nationality, followed by people from Ukraine, Iraq and Turkey.
Speaking to Deutsche Welle, Jan Schneider of the independent Expert Council on Integration and Migration said that “because they were able to demonstrate exceptional integration achievements", almost half of the residents from Syria had their citizenship applications approved after just six years of living and working in Germany.
Exceptional integration can mean proving particularly good German language skills or showing impressive occupational achievements while working in Germany. In most cases however, residents in Germany apply for citizenship once they have been living and working in the country for at least eight years and can prove at least B1-level German skills.
It is expected that the number of people applying for German citizenship will continue to grow in the near future since many Syrian nationals who came to Germany as refugees in 2015 are approaching their eight-year mark of having lived in the country.
Dual citizenship reforms will mean more applications
At the moment, people who hold a non-EU passport and apply for German citizenship must renounce their original citizenship, as dual German nationality is generally forbidden. But since this, along with many other aspects of German citizenship law, is soon likely to be reformed, the number of German passport applications is expected to rise.
The new law would allow non-EU citizens to hold dual citizenship with their new German passport, meaning many people who have long lived in Germany but have been reluctant to give up their original nationality may be more tempted to make the steps towards citizenship.
These reforms would also mean that foreign residents living in Germany will be able to apply for citizenship after five years rather than eight. In circumstances where exceptional integration is proven, some people will be able to apply for a German passport after just three years.
Currently, 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 is also set to change with the new law.
Germany’s coalition government has now agreed upon a 49-page draft document designed to reform the country's citizenship laws. The reforms are facing criticism from the government’s opposition, the CDU / CSU sisters parties. But if all goes to plan, the law will face a vote in the nation's parliament as early as this summer.
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