• Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Germany unveils easier citizenship laws for Nigerians, others

Germany unveils easier citizenship laws for Nigerians, others

Germany’s federal parliament has approved the provision of dual citizenship and naturalization to non-EU immigrants after 5 years of residence. The government says the law should help make Germany more attractive to skilled workers internationally.

This move comes as efforts to ease the process for obtaining German citizenship strengthen, to encourage willing migrants from countries outside central Europe including Nigerians who are highly employed in Germany at rates second only to Pakistan. As of 2021, there were about 83,000 Nigerians living in Germany.

As per the new law, immigrants who have legally lived in Germany for up to five years will be allowed to apply for citizenship, rather than the current eight or six years, and if specially recognized for being “exceptionally well integrated,”, may be given after three years.

This includes children born in Germany to at least one parent who has been living legally in the country for five or more years as they will automatically get German citizenship;

Older immigrants, precisely above the age of 67 will take an oral German language test rather than a written one.

Olaf Scholz, chancellor of social democrats put forward the bill which received votes from the free democrats and the Green Party, which make up the ruling coalition government.

“With the new citizenship law, we are saying to all those who have often lived and worked in Germany for decades, who abide by our laws, who are at home here: You belong to Germany,” Scholz said.

There are certain exceptions to this policy however as people living entirely on state support will not be eligible for German citizenship. It will also be denied for people who have committed antisemitic, racist, xenophobic or other defamatory offences that are seen to be “unreconcilable with commitment to the free democratic basic order.”

According to the legislation, immigrants from non-EU states including other African nations would also be allowed to possess multiple citizenships.

Speaking on this, Reem Alabali-Radovan expressed that Germany is not the pioneer of dual citizenship in Europe as such exists in other countries of the world. “Two passports is the most normal thing in the world in 2024 and has long been a reality in most countries.”

In Germany, dual citizenship has been permitted for certain groups of individuals only. This includes citizens of the EU and Switzerland, individuals whose country of origin does not allow them to renounce their citizenship, such as those from Afghanistan, Iran, and Morocco, individuals who have both German and other citizenship, refugees who face persecution in their home country, and Israelis.

Syrian refugees who have integrated well into Germany may also be eligible for fast-tracked German citizenship.

The bill however didn’t go well with all legislators. Out of 639 votes cast in parliament, 382 were in support of the bill while 234 did not, with 23 lawmakers abstaining.

The main centre-right opposition bloc criticised the project and argued it would cheapen German citizenship, demanding amendments to “preserve the value of German citizenship.”

“German citizenship is something very precious, and one should treat it very carefully,” Friedrich Merz CDU leader said when the bill was first published in December 2022.

The far-right anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party (AfD) are also opposed to the planned policy changes. They claim to speak for Germans stating that “Two-thirds of Germans do not want naturalization to be simplified and speak of a ‘sell-out’ (Verramschung) of their citizenship.”

In 2022, Germany suffered higher labour shortages. The Institute for Employment Research (IAB) found 1.74 million vacant positions throughout the country, and like many countries alike, Germany opened up their borders to skilled workers offering a “Chancenkarte” or opportunity card which helped interested migrants enter easily.

Germany continues its effort to draw more foreigners in to work and build its manpower. Meanwhile, other nations including Canada and the UK and other popular destination sites for Nigerian travellers tighten restrictions regarding foreign nationals to cut migration costs and manage resources.