UPDATE 2 - German government approves dual nationality bill

UPDATE 2 - German government approves dual nationality bill

Scholz’s coalition government passes bill to make it easier for immigrants to obtain German citizenship; conservative CDU/CSU opposes plan

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By Anadolu staff

BERLIN (AA) - Germany’s Cabinet approved a long-awaited bill on Wednesday to modernize the country’s citizenship law.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the proposed legislation will simplify the naturalization process and enable multiple citizenship for immigrants.

“We are introducing a modern immigration bill which would better serve our modern and diverse country. The new nationality law is one of the most important reforms of our coalition government. I am very pleased that we are now implementing this,” she said.

Faeser said the reform was essential to attract highly skilled workers from abroad and ensure the competitiveness of German companies.

“We are in the middle of a global competition for the brightest minds. We urgently need skilled workers in many areas of our economy. But we will only attract the best minds if they can become fully part of our society,” she said.

According to the proposed bill, immigrants will have a right to German citizenship after five years of residence in the country, instead of the current eight years.

For immigrants who have shown outstanding academic or professional achievements, and have good language skills, this period will be reduced to three years.

The draft law will also enable immigrants to hold dual citizenship or multiple nationality, which is currently not possible for most of the immigrants.

“Many immigrants feel German, but do not want to completely cut off their ties to their country of origin. In the future, they will no longer be forced to give up part of their identity. We will allow multiple nationality,” Faeser said.

Children born in Germany to foreign parents will be able to acquire German citizenship if at least one parent has lived legally in the country for at least five years. These children will also be able to keep the citizenship of their parents.

Currently over 12 million people in Germany – around 14% of the total population – do not possess German citizenship. Around 5.3 million of them have been living in the country for at least 10 years, according to official figures.

“According to the draft bill, commitment to free, democratic and constitutional order of Germany will be a key requirement for foreigners to obtain German citizenship. Applications of those who were convicted of racist, xenophobic, inhumane, or antisemitic acts will be rejected by the authorities.

Reform of German citizenship law was a centerpiece of the coalition agreement when Social Democrats, the Greens and liberal Free Democrats formed a three-way coalition government two years ago.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly said that speeding up the process of naturalization and allowing multiple citizenship for immigrants, would enhance integration, as well as social and political participation.

The proposed bill requires parliamentary approval to become a law, and it is expected to be discussed at the Bundestag after the summer recess.

Germany’s main opposition CDU/CSU alliance sharply criticized the bill on Wednesday, and argued that the government was sending “completely wrong signals,” especially in the current migration crisis.

“Naturalization must come at the end of a successful integration process, not at the beginning,” Andrea Lindholz, deputy chairwoman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, said in a statement.

She also opposed “dual citizenship” for immigrants, claiming that this could strengthen the “political influence of foreign states” in Germany.

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