EU court rules against German language test

The European Union Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that Germany couldn't make spouses of Turkish residents take a German language test to receive a visa.

EU court rules against German language test
German skills are no longer demanded of Turkish spouses. Photo: DPA
Since 2007 Turkish men or women who wanted to join their spouses already living in Germany have been required to demonstrate basic German language proficiency to move to the country.
The court ruling is the result of a two-year legal battle by the wife of a Turkish businessman living in Germany to be allowed to join him.
In January 2012, the German embassy in Ankara refused again to grant the woman, Mrs Dogan, a visa for the purpose of joining her husband who had lived in Germany since 1998, on the grounds that her German was not good enough. 
But on Thursday the EU court ruled that the German language requirement violates agreements Turkey made in the 1970s within the European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor organization to the EU.
Under the EU-Turkey agreement no new restrictions were allowed to be put on freedom of movement. 
The court agreed that the 2007 introduction of the language test sought to prevent forced marriages and to promote integration, but added the test would mean someone might be forced to choose between their work in an EU member state and their family. 
The judgment read that the German language requirement was "contrary" to EU law. However, the ruling only affects Turkish people and not the German language test for immigrants.


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TEST: Could you pass the German citizenship exam?

Obtaining German citizenship involves clearing numerous hurdles - including a multiple-choice citizenship test that will quiz you on your knowledge of German history, culture, geography and politics. Could you pass it?

TEST: Could you pass the German citizenship exam?

The German passport is one of the most powerful in the world – but getting your hands on one is no mean feat. 

Alongside strict residency and language requirements, people who want to become a naturalised German citizenship will have to sit an exam known as the Einbürgerungstest (Citizenship Test).

The exam is designed to ensure that migrants understand important aspects of Germany’s political system, like the rights enshrined in the constitution, and can deal with aspects of day to day life and culture in the Bundesrepublik.

READ ALSO: TEST: Is your German good enough for citizenship or permanent residency?

Additionally, there are usually questions on important milestones in German history such as the Second World War and the GDR, and you may encounter some geography questions and questions on the European Union as well. 

The test is in German and consists of 33 questions: 30 questions on Germany in general, and three related to the specific federal state you live in. 

It’s all in German, so people sitting the exam need to be fairly confident with their reading skills – but since it’s multiple choice, writing skills thankfully aren’t required. 

Though this may sound daunting, people are given a full hour to complete the test – and, anecdotally, most tend to finish much more quickly than that. You also only need to score 17 out of 33 (so just over 50 percent) to pass.

In addition, there are only a set number of questions that the Citizenship Test alternates between. You can find a list of all of them (in German) here, and also take a German-language practice test here.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How I got German citizenship – and how you can too

If you’d like to test your knowledge in English, however, we’ve put together a representative list of 16 questions to get you started. Viel Glück! (Good luck!)