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Over 100,000 foreigners get German citizenship

Tom Barfield · 6 Aug 2014, 08:40

Published: 06 Aug 2014 08:28 GMT+02:00
Updated: 06 Aug 2014 08:40 GMT+02:00

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Turks remain the most numerous to become German citizens, but numbers are falling sharply.

Just under 28,000 Turkish people were naturalized in Germany in 2013, a decline of 16 percent on 2012, and down from a high of more than 100,000 in 1999.

But other groups have made up the numbers, according to the figures from Federal Statistics Office. After Turkish people, the next three groups were Poles (5,466), Ukrainians (4,539) and Greeks (3,498). 

Just over 1,000 people from India also gained German citizenship last year, while 994 people from the USA and 460 Brits gained citizenship. The number of Brits and Americans getting German citizenship has doubled since 2006, but remains small. 

The biggest increases in naturalizations were for people from Italy, Ukraine and Poland, all of whom broke the barrier of a 20 percent increase in 2013 compared with 2012.

However, the overall number of naturalizations in 2013 remained steady at 112,350.

North Rhine-Westphalia remained the leading state for naturalizations, welcoming almost 30,000 new German citizens in 2013, almost double the 16,063 attained in Baden-Württemberg. Trailing far behind was Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania at just 491.

Northern and eastern Germany saw the highest proportions of Poles integrated, while people from the former Yugoslavia preferred the south-west of the country.

Changes to German immigration law in 2001 may have been to blame for the sharp fall in Turkish naturalizations since the millennium, a spokesman for the Turkish Union in Berlin-Brandenburg (TBB) told The Local.

“For many people the language tests in Germany were a problem... people coming from a 'third state', outside the EU, had to sit a test in their country of origin just to be able to travel to Germany and apply for the right to stay," he said. “The huge increase in the bureaucratic hurdles contributed a lot [to the decline].”

Restrictive rules about dual citizenship also discouraged Turks from seeking German naturalization, the spokesman suggested, although these rules are now being reformed to allow more Turkish people to have joint German-Turkish citizenship.The figures also show a long-term decline in the number of Turkish citizens living in Germany. The population fell from 1.95m in 2001 to just 1.55m in 2013.

Turkey has experienced a huge economic upswing in the last 10-15 years and is much more attractive,” the TBB spokesman told The Local. “Boom towns like Istanbul are a big draw for young people.”

Businesses in Turkey now target young people in western Europe with immigrant backgrounds, he added. “Having multiple languages is a great qualification.”

But the TBB warned that there was still work to do in Germany on immigration and integration policy.

“There's still a lot of discrimination here in the German labour market, experienced by lots of young people from Turkey and the Arab world; women who wear the veil, for example.”

SEE ALSO: My path from India to German citizenship

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Tom Barfield (tom.barfield@thelocal.com)

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