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FDP backs fast-tracked citizenship to spur integration

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FDP backs fast-tracked citizenship to spur integration
Photo: DPA
14:46 CEST+02:00
The Free Democrats (FDP), Chancellor Angela Merkel's junior coalition partners, reportedly want to speed the path to German citizenship for well-integrated immigrants, cutting the naturalisation process from eight to four years.

The FDP's parliamentary interior affairs expert Hartfrid Wolff told regional daily Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Tuesday that the party hoped the change would encourage foreigners to learn German and quickly become valued members of society.

“The option of accelerated naturalisation is an important signal of openness and acceptance for all immigrants,” said Wolff. “Those that speak German, are well qualified, integrated in society and have a permanent job shouldn't have to wait eight years for citizenship.”

He said a fast track for immigrants committed to staying in Germany would help alleviate the country's worrying dearth of skilled workers.

Serkan Tören, the FDP's point man in parliament for integration matters, also demanded changing Germany's inconsistent acceptance of dual citizenship, saying it was hindering foreigners from becoming German nationals.

“For many immigrants it is a huge step to give up the citizenship of their birth country,” he told the paper. “Moreover it's hard to justify why Europeans are allowed to have dual citizenship but other foreigners aren't.”

Tören, who was born in Turkey but came to Germany when he was 10 months old, said the first step to better integration would be to stop forcing immigrant minors to choose between German citizenship and the nationality of their parents at the age of 18 to 23.

According official statistics, the number of naturalisations in Germany has been cut nearly in half over the past decade. Last year, only 1.4 percent of the country's 7.2 million foreign residents opted to become German citizens.

The Local/mry (news@thelocal.de)

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