The Central Register of Foreigners (AZR), a government body which collects data on foreigners in, said on Tuesday that the number of people in the country without a German passport rose by 282,800 between 2011 and 2012 – an increase of 4.1 percent. The year before the rise was 2.1 percent.
And 80 percent of the newly-registered foreigners came from EU member states, while the number of migrants from countries that joined the EU in 2004 rose by 15.5 percent.
The number of new immigrants from Romania and Hungary, which both joined the EU in 2007, was particularly high. Germany’s strong economy and good job opportunities have proved a major pull for Eastern European nationals.
Cosmin Paun, a Romanian IT technician, told The Local that he moved to Berlin ten days ago because it was the “new Silicon Valley”.
“There are many IT opportunities in start-ups,” the 28-year-old said. “The restrictions on forming a company allow people to set up business more easily than in Romania."
"I have found that companies put emphasis on training employees rather than experience," he added.
Poles, Hungarians, Romanians, Greeks and Spaniards were the biggest movers from inside the EU. The remaining 20 percent of arrivals came from outside the EU – above all from Syria, China, India and Russia.
Jasper Mijdam, who works in IT in Germany’s capital, said: “I moved from Amsterdam to Berlin in January 2012. This was for my graduation internship at a start-up company called Gidsy [now Getyourguide.com].”
The 25-year-old added: “My social network consists of so many expats now. It's ridiculous. Actual Germans I know can be counted on two hands.”
Although Berlin is proving increasingly popular with young professionals, most of the new arrivals headed for Bavaria, followed by North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg.
The biggest increase came in the state of Thüringen where the number of foreigners rose by 11.5 percent – 4,300 people.
The statistics told a different story for Turks, Germany’s largest ethnic minority. The number of Turkish people living in Germany without a German passport decreased in 2012.
Poles make up the second-largest group of foreign citizens in Germany with 532,000 citizens, followed by Italians, Greeks and Croatians.
Christine Langenfeld, chairwoman for the council of experts at the German Foundation for Integration and Migration (SVR), said there had been a slight increase in foreign citizens gaining German citizenship and described the change as “gratifying”.
But Langenfeld wants to encourage more foreigners to apply for citizenship.
“Hamburg’s initiative, whereby the mayor sends a letter to all foreigners that have lived in Germany for eight years informing them that they can apply for citizenship is commendable,” she said.
At the end of 2012 a total of 80.52 million people were living in Germany – one in twelve without a German passport.
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