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Language test scares off potential citizenship applicants

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Language test scares off potential citizenship applicants
Photo: DPA
10:57 CEST+02:00
The number of immigrants becoming naturalised citizens in Germany has dropped by some 15 percent since the country introduced a controversial language test two years ago, daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Wednesday.

“Many of them give up fearing that they won't pass,” Kenan Araz, who works for immigrant charity organisations in Bochum, told the paper.

The drastic reduction in new German citizens was revealed in a recent parliamentary inquiry filed by The Left party and by research in several states by the paper.

All nine states that gave figures to Süddeutsche Zeitung reported fewer naturalised citizens, and several pointed to the language test as the cause. North Rhine-Westphalia, which usually accounts for one-quarter of the country's newly naturalised passport holders, showed applications had dropped by 20 percent.

Overall applications dipped below 100,000 – the lowest number in a decade, the paper said.

“The government needs to finally make naturalisation easier,” Sevim Dagdelen, who initiated the parliamentary inquiry, told the paper.

But the government's integration representative Maria Böhmer says current laws are not the problem. Instead, German residents need to develop a more welcoming culture and the immigrants need to make a clear choice for Germany, she said.

Despite good intentions, the way to naturalisation is a “bureaucratic limbo plastered with question marks and demands,” the paper said, referring to requirements such as fluent German and proving the ability to support one's family without state aid.

But perhaps many of Germany's immigrants don't even want citizenship, the paper said. A recent study social service confederation Caritas found that many immigrants don't feel the need to apply for citizenship because they can get a work visa without one.

Meanwhile many Turks, who are Germany's largest group of immigrants, still dream of returning to their home country and don't want to give up their identity as Turks, the study said.

With few exceptions, Germany generally does not allow dual citizenship.

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