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Reader question: When will Germany change its citizenship laws?

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Reader question: When will Germany change its citizenship laws?
A German passport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

Many foreigners are eagerly awaiting the relaxation of Germany's tough citizenship laws - but when exactly will they change? While we don't have a firm answer yet, here's what we know so far.


Since the traffic light coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) officially aired their plans to break down barriers to citizenship by allowing dual nationality, many internationals have been eagerly awaiting the day that they can apply to become German. 

But since the fireworks of the coalition pact announcement back in November 2021, things seem to have gone awfully silent, leading some to wonder whether internationals have dropped off the government's radar entirely. 

As far as we can gather, this isn't the case - but you may need to wait another year or so before sending off your citizenship application. 

In response to a question from The Local in April, an Interior Ministry spokesperson told us that the modernisation of citizenship laws - including permitting dual nationality - had “very high priority” but was unlikely to be completed in 2022.

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on Germany’s plan to change dual citizenship laws?


“The careful preparation and implementation of this important reform project is in progress,” he told us. “However, it is not to be expected that the legislative project on the Nationality Act can be completed this year.”

When The Local spoke to MPs from the traffic-light coalition in January, migration policy experts explained that the reform would “definitely” be implemented within the four-year legislative period and that it was likely to be one of the first major projects of the coalition. 

This would suggest that, even if it isn't this year, we should see some movement on this in 2023 instead. 

Here's why it could take that long:

Though it may seem relatively simple to tweak a clause or two in the law, there seem to be a few details that still need to be ironed out, such as the new, simplified criteria for citizenship and proving integration in German society. 

In their coalition pact, the traffic light parties said they wanted to replace a clause on “integration into German living conditions” with what they describe as “clear criteria” - though at present we have no idea what those "criteria" would be. 

Another issue is likely to be a more practical one: ensuring there are enough staff and resources at the citizenship offices to prevent an endless backlog of unreviewed applications, or trying to digitalise the entire system.

READ ALSO: ‘Two years is normal’: How Germany’s citizenship process leaves foreigners hanging

With around 11 million people living in Germany without a German passport, and about five million of these currently eligible for one, you can expect a pretty big queue when the government finally does permit dual nationality for all - something that the Interior Ministry is likely to want to prepare for before suddenly changing the rules.

Keep an eye on The Local's homepage for more reporting and interviews on this topic 


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