Integration in Germany: Half of refugees ‘find jobs within five years’

Around one in two of the refugees who have arrived in Germany since 2013 have found steady employment within five years, a new study says.

Integration in Germany: Half of refugees 'find jobs within five years'
Photo: DPA

Researchers at the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) compared the situation of refugees who have come to Germany since 2013 with new arrivals from the period between the early 1990s and 2013.

They found that 44 percent of the refugees who arrived in the 1990s, partly as a result of the Yugoslav conflicts at the time, were in gainful employment after five years, while 49 percent of those who have come since 2013 had found steady jobs.

“Labour market integration is thus somewhat faster than for refugees in earlier years,” the study concludes.

The IAB researchers explained that refugees who came earlier had more favourable conditions in terms of language, education and training than for the refugees who arrived in 2013.

However, at that time the general unemployment rate was much higher than today and the growth in employment was far lower.

Plus Germany has made a big effort to integrate newcomers since the mass influx of refugees in 2015 during the worldwide crisis.

“Since 2015, considerably more has been invested in language and other integration programmes for asylum seekers and recognized refugees” than previously, said the study authors, Herbert Brücker, Yuliya Kosyakova and Eric Schuß.

According to the study, 68 percent of the working population of refugees who have arrived since 2013 are in full-time or part-time employment, 17 percent are in paid training programmes and three percent in paid internships.

A total of 12 percent are in so-called mini-jobs, where the employee earns no more than €450 per month.


Large gender gap

There is a big difference between men and women: while 57 percent of men are in employment within five years after moving to Germany, the proportion among women is only 29 percent.

Childcare plays a major role here.

“Women with young children in particular are only employed to a very small extent,” said the study.

In the second half of 2018, a total of 60 percent of refugees took up gainful employment, attended an educational institution or took part in integration or labour market policy measures.

The majority of the remaining 40 percent were actively looking for a job, on parental leave or on maternity leave.

Researchers analyzed a survey jointly organized by the IAB, which is part of the Federal Employment Agency, the Research Centre of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) and the Socio-Economic Panel at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW).

The representative survey includes refugees who came to Germany between 2013 and 2016. A total of around 8,000 refugees have been interviewed so far.


Refugees – (die) Flüchtlinge

Labour market – (der) Arbeitsmarkt

More favourable conditions – günstigere Voraussetzungen

Full or part-time employment – (die) Vollzeit oder Teilzeiterwerbstätigkeit

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EXPLAINED: Who is entitled to German citizenship by descent and how to apply for it

German citizenship law is based on the principle of descent, which means that a child automatically acquires the citizenship of a parent regardless of their place of birth. However, when you were born and whether your parents were married can affect this right.

EXPLAINED: Who is entitled to German citizenship by descent and how to apply for it

Shortly after taking office last year, Germany’s traffic light coalition government announced a plan to loosen citizenship laws and make it easier for foreign nationals to gain a German passport. Almost a year later, however, those plans have still not come into force. In the meantime, here is a look at another way foreign nationals may be able to gain German citizenship.

READ ALSO: Reader question: When will Germany change its citizenship laws?

The principle of descent 

In Germany, das Abstammungsprinzip – the principle of descent – was originally the only basis for German nationality under the Reich and Nationality Act which came into force in 1914. Since then, it has been broadened by various amendments to the law. 

Here is a guide to understanding who is entitled to German citizenship by descent and how to apply.

Children born to married parents

Before 1975, in almost all cases where the parents were married at the time of birth, you could become German only if your father was a German citizen.

The law was broadened slightly in 1964 so that children who would otherwise have been stateless were able to gain German citizenship if only their mother was German. This law applied until December 31st, 1974.

Then, those born to married parents after 1975 automatically became German citizens if one of the parents – father or mother – was a German citizen at the time of their birth. This rule still applies today.

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

However, if you were born outside of Germany after December 31st, 1999 and your German parent was also born outside of Germany after December 31st 1999, then you were not born a German citizen unless your birth was registered in Germany within one year of your date of birth.

For those who were born before 1975 and after May 23rd, 1945, when the old rules about paternal inheritance still applied, there is now a possibility to become a German citizen by applying for ‘citizenship by declaration’.

Photo: A newborn baby at the Vivantes Klinikum in Friedrichshain, Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Monika Skolimowska

This possibility came into force in August 2021 and involves submitting an application form called an Erklärungserwerb (declaration application) and proof of parentage, with documents such as birth, parentage and marriage certificates. The application procedure itself is free of charge, though you may need to factor in costs for getting documents translated or certified by a notary.

A checklist for those who are entitled to apply for citizenship by declaration is available, in German, on the Federal Administration Office’s website

Children born to unmarried parents

Before July 1993, in almost all cases where the parents were not married at the time of birth, you could become German only if your mother was a German citizen.

If you were born before July 1993 and only your father was a German citizen, you could only become a German citizen by legitimation i.e. if your parents got married after your birth. 

After July 1st, 1993, another change in the law meant that having either a German mother or father meant that a child of unmarried parents was a German citizen. However, if only the father was a German citizen, legal paternity had to be established before the child’s 23rd birthday. This meant obtaining a Vaterschaftsannerkennung (acknowledgement of paternity).

A father twirls his child in the air in Munich, Bavaria. Photo: picture alliance / Tobias Hase/dpa | Tobias Hase

This is still the case today, and, as with children born in wedlock, if you were born outside of Germany after December 31st, 1999 and your German parent was also born outside of Germany after this date, then you do not automatically gain German citizenship. In this case, your birth must be registered in Germany within one year of your date of birth.

Adopted children

If you were adopted as a minor (under the age of 18) by at least one German citizen on or after January 1st, 1977, you automatically gain German citizenship. If the adoption took place outside Germany, the adoption must be recognized in Germany and have the same legal effects under German law to qualify for German citizenship.

German grandparents

Unlike in some other European citizenship laws, you can‘t jump a generation and apply for citizenship in Germany just because of a German grandparent. However, your parent might have acquired German citizenship by descent from your German grandparent(s) through one of the above categories, which could mean that you could also qualify as a German citizen. 

People living outside of Germany

Not living in Germany doesn’t mean that you are not a German citizen under the principle of descent. However, if you want to get a German passport, you’ll need to obtain a certificate of proof of citizenship – a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis. 

READ ALSO: How foreigners can get fast-track citizenship in Germany

To do this, you will have to fill out a form and submit it to the Federal Office of Administration, which investigates whether or not applicants are German citizens. Along with the form, you will also have to submit various documents including proof of parentage, birth and marriage certificates.

Dual citizenship

The children of a foreign parent and a German parent have a right to both nationalities, as long as the law of the foreign parent’s home country allows it.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: what you need to know about dual citizenship in Germany

Children born to at least one German national abroad also have a right to dual citizenship, as long as the country of their birth also recognises the principle of ‘jus soli’ – the right to citizenship to those born in the territory of a state. The parents have to register this birth with the local diplomatic mission within the first 12 months of the child’s life. 

Exceptions and developments

In June 2021, the so-called “reparation citizenship” law was passed in the Bundestag, which closed legal loopholes which had led to descendants of people who fled Nazi Germany to escape persecution having their applications for a German passport rejected.

Under the new law, descendants of those deprived of German citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds between 1933 and 1941 can claim citizenship through their parents’ restored citizenship.

READ ALSO: How Germany is making it easier for Nazi victims’ descendants to get citizenship