German citizenship: Record number of naturalizations

Of note, along with the planned policy changes:

A record 168,545 applicants with 171 different nationalities received German citizenship in 2022. That was 28% more than in the previous year, the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden reported this week.

Twenty-nine percent of people who adopted German nationality in 2022 were from Syria, their average age was 24.8 years, and two-thirds of them are male. Many of them had fled their homeland when the civil war broke out in 2014 and have since found a new home in Germany. Before naturalization, they had been in Germany for an average of 6.4 years.

Syrians topped the list, followed by Ukrainian, Iraqi and Turkish nationals.

“Almost half of all Syrians who received their German passports did so after only six years. That’s because they were able to demonstrate exceptional integration achievements,” Jan Schneider, of the independent Expert Council on Integration and Migration, told DW.

“In fact, we can expect the number to rise further this year,” Schneider said, as the ruling center-left coalition of Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP) has comprehensive plans for changing and simplifying the citizenship law.

High hurdles so far

Currently, the requirements for naturalization include language skills (B1) and a secure income, and candidates must have lived in Germany for a minimum of eight years.

People who want to become German citizenship have not only had to pay the fee of €255 ($272) but also need to be able to document their identity and pass a written test in German, which consists of 33 questions on German customs and society and the law. Applicants must also declare their support for democracy and the German constitution, the Basic Law.

Anyone who has been convicted of a criminal offense does not stand a chance. Neither do applicants who have no income or savings and rely solely on state support.

But, now, Germany sees a labor shortage across its economy, ranging from IT specialists to medical staff to food servers. Labor market experts have estimated that Germany needs 400,000 immigrants per year to close the widening gap. Currently, only 60,000 are attracted each year by the government’s skilled immigration program.

A fundamental change in the citizenship law, the government argues, could be an incentive for people to come and for those already living here to integrate better.

Plans to simplify the citizenship law

Legislation proposed by Interior Minister Nancy Faeser will make dual citizenship easier, as well as naturalization for non-EU citizens. It boils down to three main changes.

Immigrants legally living in Germany will be allowed to apply for citizenship after five rather than eight years. This shall go down to only three years if the applicant can show special integration achievements.

Children born in Germany of at least one parent who has been living legally in the country for five or more years will automatically get German citizenship.

Multiple citizenships will be allowed.

So far, only EU and Swiss nationals, and those whose country of origin does not allow people to renounce citizenship such as Iran, Afghanistan and Morocco, for example; refugees who are threatened with persecution in their home countries; and Israelis are generally permitted to hold on to their original passports when they get a German one.

Schneider believes that, for some of the approximately 1.3 million Turks who are living in Germany, “the dual passport may well be an incentive for naturalization.”

Opposition to reform

The new record figures for naturalizations have triggered another storm of protest among critics, especially from the largest opposition group, the center-right Christian Democrat Union and the regional Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU). Their parliamentary group’s spokesman, Thorsten Frei, told the daily newspaper Die Welt: “The plans of Interior Minister Nancy Faeser increase the risk that more people will be naturalized who are not sufficiently integrated.” He said there were no convincing reasons to lower the requirements for a German passport.

Currently, about 6 million foreign citizens have been living in Germany for over eight years. If the minimum period of residence for naturalization is set at five years, migration expert Schneider pointed out, most of them will meet the criteria for naturalization.

Although it is not possible to predict today whether parliament will approve the government’s bill, “a massive increase in naturalization applications” is to be expected, Schneider said. “Applications for naturalization are already piling up in many Citizens’ Offices,” he added.

Source: German citizenship: Record number of naturalizations

German Plan Would Ease Path to Citizenship, but Not Without a Fight

Of note and encouraging government is moving ahead:

Young, educated and motivated, José Leonardo Cabrera Barroso is just the kind of immigrant the government says Germany needs.

Originally from Venezuela, he settled into Germany, learned the language and got his German medical license. At 34, he is specializing as a trauma surgeon, working at a hospital in the northern port city of Hamburg. It took him a full six years — and because of his expertise, he was allowed to apply for citizenship sooner than the eight years required for most others.

“For me, this date was a must,” he said at the champagne reception in Hamburg after his citizenship ceremony in February. “After all the work I did to get here, I finally feel like I can celebrate.”

But if his path to becoming a German citizen was not easy, neither has been the effort to simplify that process for others who want to realize the same dream.

After months of political wrangling, the government presented a plan this month to make it easier and faster for employed immigrants to become citizens, shortening the time, for people with special skills like Dr. Cabrera Barroso, to as little as three years.

The changes, supporters argue, are urgently needed to offset an aging population and a dearth of both skilled and unskilled workers. Given the majority that Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s three-party coalition government holds in Parliament, the new law is expected to pass this summer.

But before then, even within the government — and certainly for its conservative opponents — the proposals have set off a wrenching debate over a fundamental question: Is Germany a country of immigrants?

On the ground, the answer is clear. Germany is more populous than ever — an additional 1.1 million people lived in the country, now of 84.3 million people, at the end of 2022 — thanks to migration.

One in four Germans have had at least one of their grandparents born abroad. More than 18 percent of people living in Germany were not born there.

In Frankfurt and a few other major cities, residents with a migration history are the majority. People with non-German sounding names run cities, universities and hospitals. The German couple that invented the Pfizer Covid vaccine have Turkish roots. Cem Ozdemir, a German-born Green politician whose parents came from Turkey, is one of the current government’s most popular minsters. Two of the three governing parties are run by men born in Iran.

Many of those changes have only accelerated since reunification 33 years ago, but many Germans still do not recognize the diversification of their country.

“The opposition does not want to accept or admit that we are a nation of immigrants; they basically want to hide from reality,” said Bijan Djir-Sarai, who came to Germany from Iran when he was 11 and is now the secretary general of the Free Democratic Party, which is part of the governing coalition.

The changes to the citizenship law are part of wider set of proposals that will also make it easier for skilled workers to settle in Germany and for well-integrated immigrants to stay.

Besides reducing the time an immigrant must live in the country to apply, the plan will allow people to keep their original citizenship and make language requirements less onerous for older immigrants.

The proposals are the most sweeping since 1999, when, for the first time in modern German history, people who were not born to German parents could get German citizenship under certain conditions.

Before then, it was virtually impossible to become German without proving German ancestry, a situation that was especially fraught for the nearly one million Turkish citizens who started coming to Germany in the 1960s to help rebuild the economy as “guest workers” and their descendants.

Since the government announced its plans in November, the conservative opposition has staunchly resisted easing citizenship requirements, criticizing them as giving away the rights accorded German citizens too easily to people who are not integrated enough.

Those arguments have resonated with some Germans at a moment when migration remains a fixation of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party, which has risen in polls, pulling the mainstream opposition Christian Democrats farther right with it.

“Hocking citizenship does not promote integration, but has the opposite effect and will have a knock-on effect on illegal migration,” Alexander Dobrindt, the parliamentary leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union, told the mass-market tabloid Bild.

Not all of those who have already gone through the longer, arduous process, agree with lightening the requirements, either.

“I think you have to make sure it’s not given away too easily,” said Mohammed Basheer, 34, who came to Germany from Syria eight years ago and was among the roughly 200 immigrants who received their citizenship this year at the ornate Renaissance-revival City Hall of Hamburg. “I had to fight really hard for it.”

Over the months of negotiations, the smallest and most conservative of the parties in the governing coalition fought for changes to make sure applicants are self-sufficient and — apart from few exceptions — did not rely on social security payments.

“If we want society to accept immigration reform, we also have to talk about things like control, regulation and, if need be, repatriation,” Mr. Djir-Sarai said, acknowledging the opposition’s concerns. “It is simply part of it.”

Still, surveys show that more than two-thirds of Germans believe that changes making immigration easier are needed to alleviate rampant skilled-worker shortages, according to a recent poll. Industry; employers, like the German association of small and medium-size enterprises; and economists welcome the changes, seeing them as a way to attract skilled workers.

Petra Bendel, who researches migration and integration at the Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen-Nurnberg, thinks that in addition to attracting new workers, the changes are crucial for integrating those immigrants already living in Germany.

“The problem is that we exclude a very large number of people who have long been part of us, but who still do not have full citizenship and are therefore also excluded from full political participation,” she said.

Although it naturalized the fifth largest number of people in the European Union in 2020, the most recent year for which such numbers are available, Germany ranks comparatively poorly in naturalizing permanent residents: 19th out of 27 E.U. member states, one spot lower than Hungary.

“Other European countries,” Professor Bendel noted, “naturalize much faster, namely mostly after five years and not after eight years, and that is why we ended up in the bottom third.”

In the coming weeks, the bill will be presented to Germany’s 16 states for comment before returning to the cabinet for approval. The government hopes to get it to Parliament for discussion and a vote before lawmakers break for the summer in early July, though the vote could be delayed until they meet again in September.

For some, like Bonnie Cheng, 28, a portrait photographer in Berlin, the changes are welcome, if too late. She had to give up her Hong Kong citizenship status when she became German last year.

Ms. Cheng is happy that others will not have to face the same choice. If she ever had any doubts about becoming German, she said, it was when she realized she would be the only one in her family with a different citizenship.

“If you want make people to feel integrated,” she said, “you should not tear apart their identities.”

Source: German Plan Would Ease Path to Citizenship, but Not Without a Fight

Schools survey: Non-German students more likely to ‘sit next to a …

Interesting study:

A study on children’s attitudes toward their classmates resulted in some surprising, and other not so surprising, findings.

Based on surveys of ninth-grade children (aged 14 to 15) in Germany, research led by Zsófia Boda at the University of Essex and Georg Lorenz from Leipzig University has found that classes that are ethnically diverse are more welcoming of refugee students.

That’s the unsurprising part.

What it also revealed, however, was that students who were born in Germany to German-born parents were the most likely to reject their refugee classmates, and the least likely to refer to them as friends.

Would you sit next to a refugee?

The study is based on the results of a national survey of 6,390 children in Germany in 2018, which asked the students who their friends were and who they would not want to sit next to in class. Most of the refugee students involved in the survey came from Syria and Afghanistan — the two main countries of origin of people seeking protection in Germany.

The results, published this week in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, showed that the refugee children had fewer friends and experienced more rejection than their non-refugee peers.

But in a more mixed or ‘high-diversity’ classroom, it was much less likely for a child to say they would not want to share a desk with a refugee or asylum seeker, and more likely that they would name a refugee student as a friend.

The research found that there are two processes at work here: In a classroom with a high proportion of ‘non-German’ children, you are more likely to get people who are accepting of other non-Germans, the researchers explained. But also, ethnic majority (i.e. second-generation German) students are less inclined to reject refugee peers if they are surrounded by diversity.

The study suggests that this finding – that more diversity does not lead to greater rejection by the ethnic majority group – is an important one, because it challenges critical views of multiculturalism.

A large proportion – about half – of refugees and migrants in Germany are under the age of 18.

These young people need more than just access to education. Having positive and supportive relationships with others their own age in turn leads to them achieving better grades at school and results in overall better health and wellbeing for minority students.

The study suggests that if you take these away, the educational success and psychological adjustment of refugee adolescents will likely be put at risk.

Barriers to acceptance

So what is it that is stopping students from accepting their refugee peers?

There are several possible reasons, the researchers behind the study say. One is language, which is often said to be a major barrier to integration. Traumatic experiences can also make it hard for young refugees to adjust.

Other explanations for refugees having lower levels of social integration or acceptance in the classroom include the fact that they are likely to have joined the class later when friendships between other students have already formed. There is also the dynamics of friendship groups, which often grow and develop between people of the same ethnic group.

Moreover, the study also points out that social integration is not a one-sided process: “[T]he attitudes and behaviors of peers [is] crucial,” it notes.

What should policy makers do with these findings which, taken at face value, seem to suggest that refugee students should attend schools that are already ethnically diverse?

If they were to take this approach, it might jeopardize refugee students’ language development, which usually benefits from having a high proportion of majority-ethnic children in the classroom.

Steering refugee children into diverse schools could also lead to segregation instead of integration, and that would not help in promoting positive attitudes between German and non-German students, the study suggests.

There are some concrete steps that could “mitigate the negative consequences of prejudice,” according to the researchers. They recommend that teachers and principals are made aware of the challenges and that they support integration by, among other things, encouraging cooperation and showing support for mixing ethnic groups.

With global forced migration having become a ‘megatrend,’ Boda and Lorenz argue promoting the social integration of refugees, including adolescents, will remain crucially important for the refugees themselves. According to them, it will also reduce negative attitudes and prejudice towards immigrants — a problem which is widespread in Western societies.

Source: Schools survey: Non-German students more likely to ‘sit next to a …

Germany: 20.2 Million People Had a History of Immigration in 2022

Ongoing trend:

The official statistical office of Germany, Destatis, has revealed that in 2022, around 20.2 million people with a history of immigration were living in the country, representing an increase compared to the previous year.

According to Destatis, the number of people that had a history of immigration in 2022 was 1.2 million or 6.5 per cent more than in 2021, when the total number of people with a history of immigration living in Germany stood at 19.0 million, reports.

“In 2022, 20.2 million people with a history of immigration were living in Germany. Based on micro census results, the Federal Statistical Office reports that this was an increase of 1.2 million, or 6.5 per cent, compared with the previous year (2021: 19.0 million),” the statement of Destatis reads.

Following an increase of 1.3 per cent compared to 2021, Destatis said that it means that the group of people with a history of immigration accounted for 24.3 per cent of the entire population in Germany.

The same noted that the proportion of men with a history of immigration living in Germany in 2022 stood at 24.8 per cent, slightly higher than that of women, which stood at 23.8 per cent.

In addition to the above-mentioned, Destatis also shared more specific data on the total population and their immigration history.

Data provided by Destatis show that in 2022, there were a total of 83.1 million people living in Germany. Of the total number, 71 per cent of the total number of the population in 2021 did not have an immigration history, 18 per cent of them were immigrants, six per cent were descendants, and five per cent had a parent with an immigration history.

Previously, reported that 17.3 per cent of people living in Germany in 2021 had immigrated since 1950. This means that 14.2 million people living in Germany in 2021 have immigrated to the country since then.

Another 4.7 million people living in the country in 2021 were descendants of immigrants, meaning that they were born in Germany, but both parents had immigrated to the country since 1950.

In general, the number of immigrants living in Germany in 2021 surpassed the EU average, which stands at 10.3 per cent. In terms of the number of immigrants, Germany ranked the seventh on the list in 2021, following Malta, Cyprus, Sweden, Luxembourg, Austria, and Ireland, which all had a higher percentage of immigrants.

Source: Germany: 20.2 Million People Had a History of Immigration in 2022 …

Germany to change immigration laws to attract skilled labor

Legislation moving through the system:

Germany’s dearth of skilled laborers has forced Berlin to look hard at existing immigration policies, and the government’s new plan designed to attract more with greater easek put forth jointly by the Interior and Labor Ministries cleared the Cabinet on Wednesday. It will still need to go through both houses of parliament.

The new bill is part of a comprehensive migration package the ruling coalition says will modernize the country’s immigration, residency and citizenship laws. Existing skilled labor immigration rules were established in March 2020, when Germany was governed by the so-called grand coalition headed by Angela Merkel.

The draft law estimates that it could increase skilled labor migration from non-EU countries by around 60,000 per year, roughly doubling the pre-COVID pandemic figures of 2019.

The policy would be based on a new points system that considers attributes in five categories.

These are qualifications, German language skills, career experience, connections to Germany (for instance relatives already living in the country), and age.

Labor Minister Hubertus Heil said in December when first unveiling the plans that people deemed to meet three or more of these criteria would be eligible for closer consideration.

Changes include a lowering of various hurdles that have made it difficult for the country to attract workers from abroad, something Germany must do if it is to fill the historically high number of job openings in its labor market. Berlin said the number of vacant jobs reached 1.98 million in the fourth quarter of 2022, the highest ever recorded.

What are the most important changes?

The bill was presented to the Cabinet by Labor Minister Hubertus Heil and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.

Asked to describe the nature of the changes to the immigration rules, Heil said there were “three pillars” to the new system.

The first was to ensure “that people with a qualification and a job offfer — including those who qualified on the job [not at university] — can come to Germany more easily,” he told DW.

The next, he said, was that “qualifications are important, but a qualification that applies in your native country plus a job offer should be enough” to come to Germany, and then to square any issues with paper qualifications later. Famously, Germany is often reticent to recognize international qualifications, for instance university degrees, as comparable to its own.

“And the third pillar is, we also want to give people the chance to seek work in Germany,” Heil said.

This third option would operate on a points-based system, with people scoring well in categories like work experience, qualifications, German language skills, age and ties to Germany being more likely to qualify for consideration.

As before, those individuals who have a recognized diploma and a job contract will be given an EU Blue Card that will allow them to remain in the European Union for up to four years. The annual income required to qualify for this will also be lowered from its current levels.

Immigration: Can Germany’s new ‘green card’ deliver?

New rules aim to make it easier for workers to bring their families to Germany as well as attaining permanent residency status.

IT specialists with pertinent job experience will receive EU Blue Cards even if they do not possess an university degree.

Those specialists possessing recognized academic diplomas or trade certification will also be allowed to work in sectors other than those for which they have degrees.

Foreigners with adequate job experience and qualifications from their country of origin will be allowed to work in Germany even if those vocational degrees are not recognized in Germany. However, those individuals will be required to show proof of proper salary levels as a means to combat wage dumping.

Moreover, individuals will be allowed to work up to 20 hours a week while looking for long term employment.

Lastly, it will now be possible for individuals in possession of academic degrees or vocational certificates to remain in Germany for up to one year while looking for employment.

Source: Germany to change immigration laws to attract skilled labor

Managing asylum claims in a federal system with lessons from Germany

Useful, balanced and realistic analysis, highlighting the difficulties of adopting the German model :

Quebec Premier Francois Legault took to the media to call for changes in how Canada manages asylum claims. With 64 per cent being processed in Quebec in 2022, one of his demands was that asylum-seekers be distributed across the provinces to even out the additional demands on health care, housing and other public resources required to support the new arrivals.

In contrast to his problematic call to close the Roxham Road crossing, the interprovincial redistribution of asylum seekers may be viewed as a feasible policy with precedents in several European countries, including Germany, that could provide inspiration.

However, there are concerns that would have to be addressed before considering such a policy, including a workable funding solution between Ottawa and the provinces, how to provide the necessary infrastructure and human-rights issues.

How are asylum claims managed in Canada?

Currently there is no mechanism for assigning a place of residence to individuals who file an asylum claim in Canada. Claims are filed in the province in which someone arrives. If an initial review determines that the claimant is eligible for consideration, that province provides access to services such as emergency housing, health care, education and social and legal assistance. Municipalities and non-governmental organizations may also contribute to this support. Claimants are free to move to another province and have their claims assessed there.

The federal government supports some of the costs of hosting asylum-seekers during the process, through the Canada Social Transfer, the same block payment that provides provinces and territories funding on a per-capita basis for programs like post-secondary education.

The German model: Efficient and effective at redistributing costs

Since the Second World War, Germany has managed steady inflows of asylum-seekers, with big peaks in the early 1990s and mid-2010s. Over 1.2 million asylum applications were submitted from 1990 to 1993, and another 1.2 million were filed in 2014-2015 alone.

Germany manages a substantially higher volume of asylum applications than Canada, as a comparison of the years 2011 to 2022 shows. In that period, Germany processed over 2.8 millionasylum applicationswhile Canada had just over 417,000. In peak years, Germany received 745,545 (in 2016), while Canada received 92,100 (in 2022). On average, the number of applications received annually was almost seven times higher in Germany than it was in Canada, while Germany’s overall population is roughly two times larger.

Germany has long distributed asylum-seekers across its federal states. Its current mechanism for doing this was first integrated into West Germany’s 1982 Asylum Procedure Act and later modified to include the former East German states. Asylum claimants are distributed across the 16 federal states according to what is known as the Königstein Key (Königsteiner Schlüssel).

The key calculates quotas for asylum seekers based on each state’s tax revenue and population. More populated and economically powerful states are assigned proportionally more asylum seekers than those with fewer inhabitants and smaller economies. In 2023, North Rhine-Westphalia, a large state in western Germany, is responsible for just over 21 per cent of asylum-seekers while the small city-state of Bremen is responsible for slightly fewer than one per cent of them.

As soon as an asylum seeker launches a claim, regardless of where they do so, an electronic system automatically determines which state will handle their case, and they are immediately sent onwards (at the cost of the first state they arrived in).

Once they reach their assigned state, asylum seekers are distributed across reception centres in that state, and the state pays for benefits like food, housing, clothing and health care. In order to receive these benefits, asylum-seekers need to remain registered and resident in the municipality they were assigned to for at least the first three months after arrival.

The German model is widely regarded as one of the most effective systems of dispersing asylum-seekers geographically. Yet, like all such systems, it has its downsides. Also, the features that make it highly effective require certain political conditions that are not easy to replicate in other countries. There are certain human and social costs.

While it may be desirable from the perspective of the state to distribute asylum seekers geographically, doing so requires that the freedom of movement of individuals be restricted, at least for an initial period.

This has two main downsides. First, new arrivals cannot choose to take up residence in a place where they have family, friends and/or a community. This means that they lack the network connections that are sources of information, support and well being. If asylum-seekers gain permanent residence, the absence of networks can hinder their social and economic integration. Some scholars argue that the disruptive effects of dispersal on asylum-seeker’s networks are welcomed by states like Germany, as means of deterring new arrivals. 

Second, true geographic dispersion means placing them in communities that have little or no history of receiving immigrants. In Germany, asylum-seekers placed in more rural areas have been vulnerable to xenophobia and even racist violence.

Asylum seekers and refugee housing centres have regularly been subjected to xenophobic attacks in Germany since the early 1990s. The most infamous of these occurred in a suburb of Rostock in 1992.

Isolation from networks and potentially hostile environments are not just detrimental to asylum-seekers. They can also create costs for society, in the form of poor social and economic integration and increased ethnic and racial tensions, both of which can be mobilized by far-right politicians.

Could Canada adopt the German model?

Due to growing exposure to global forces and refugee flows, Canada will undoubtedly receive increasing numbers of asylum seekers in the future. Designing and implementing an effective, German-style system could lead to better outcomes than more ad-hoc arrangements, as the comparison between Germany and the United Kingdom shows. However, that assumes that Canadians are prepared to pay for the human and social costs to distribute expenditures on asylum-seeker support across provinces. But first, there needs to be at least two key components put in place.

A legitimate means of determining quotas

One thing that made it relatively easy for German states to commit to a refugee quota system was the agreed-upon distribution mechanism – the Königstein Key. This was originally created in 1949 to fund research and science and had long been considered a fair and legitimate means of sharing costs. Its application to a new policy area was thus relatively uncontroversial.

In Canada’s current fraught state of executive federalism, creating a similar mechanism would likely lead to additional intergovernmental conflict.

Language politics could also complicate negotiations, as Quebec might request to only retain and host francophone asylum seekers on its territory. That would have to be factored into the distribution mechanism and, perhaps, make it harder to build political consensus around it in that province and in the rest of the country.


All residents of Germany, including citizens, are required to register with their city or municipal authority within two weeks of taking up residence. Local registration is recorded on national identity cards (the most common form of personal identification in the country) and determines access to myriad social services. It is also used to determine the amount of funding a municipality receives from the state, including the number of school and kindergarten slots that are needed.

This system makes it possible to tie asylum seekers’ social and financial support to maintaining residency in a particular municipality. In other words, there is an effective infrastructure in place to enforce the quota system and to easily monitor asylum-seeker distribution and financial transfers between states and municipalities.

Canada has no such infrastructure. Nor is most of its immigrant support designed to maintain geographic distribution. One exception are the provincial nominee programs (PNPs) and – within those – collaborations with municipalities to get immigrants and refugees to settle outside of metropolitan centres. Yet, immigrants self-select into these, suggesting a willingness on the part of participants to settle in a particular region of the country.

If Canada chose to adopt a program for distributing asylum seekers across provinces and territories, it would be following established practices in Germany and other European countries. Doing this effectively and with minimal friction between jurisdictions requires careful planning and adequate population-management infrastructure, however. There are also human and social costs that need to be considered – costs Canada has not yet been willing to pay. These include curtailing the freedom of movement of asylum-seekers and creating living conditions that could be detrimental to them and Canada’s social fabric.

Source: Managing asylum claims in a federal system with lessons from Germany

Germany to Reform Skilled Immigration Act to Further Tackle Labour …

Will be interesting to see the impact of these changes. Given that Germany is also a federal system, there may be some credential recognition issues in some sectors:

Germany is ready to make another step to create a better and more alluring environment and system for more skilled foreign workers to come and work in the country, as on Monday, February 20, the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Homeland (BMI) and the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS) have initiated the state and association hearing on the new Skilled Immigration Act.

Commenting on the move, the BMI Minister Nancy Faeser said that through the hearing the government intends to identify and then remove bureaucratic hurdles for skilled workers to come to Germany and start working more quickly.

According to her, the country in particular needs workers in areas like artisanal and care, which have been deeply affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

If people bring professional experience or personal potential, we will enable them to gain further qualifications in Germany and gain a foothold in our job market,” the Minister said amongst others.

In a statement issued by the BMI regarding the hearing on the new Skilled Immigration Act, it has been pointed out that the Act will continue to have a “classic” route. Through it, those who have a professional or university degree recognized in Germany, alongside with an employment contract, will be able to come to work in the country, including here the EU Blue Card.

The government, however, intends to make the Blue Card accessible and attractive to even more specialists with a university degree, reports.

The authorities are planning to make it possible for foreigners to work in non-regulated professions by only presenting through a foreign professional or university degree and professional experience, without it needing to be formally recognised by the German authorities first.

Salary threshold will however, remain a condition for the employer offering the job position to the foreigner applying, in order to ensure fair working conditions.

As per foreign professional qualification, whenever required, foreign workers will be able to have them reognised after they arrive in Germany, and not before, as it currently is.

The Ministry also recalls that the already adopted Opportunity Card will permit third-country citizens who do not have a job offer, to come to Germany and search for a workplace.

Short term employment will also be permitted, though it will be subject to a quota, while nationals of the Western Balkans countries will remain eligible for moving to Germany for work purposes under the tried-and-tested regulations specific for this region.

The Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Hubertus Heil also believes that Germany’s economic prosperity depends on the country’s ability to secure skilled workers where needed.

But we also need immigration from abroad to have enough skilled workers in the country. With the new Skilled Immigration Act, we are making the necessary progress. In the international competition for bright minds and helping hands, we are offering new and, above all, easier ways to work in Germany,” he said.

Earlier in January, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock had also warned of “radical” immigration visa changes, saying that “Germany visa procedures should be turned upside down” in order to bring over more foreign workers and fill in labour shortages in key sectors in Germany.

Source: Germany to Reform Skilled Immigration Act to Further Tackle Labour …

Germany’s Scholz says strong immigration may secure population boost to 90 million

Of note:

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Saturday Germany could increase its population strongly in the years ahead as the government seeks to boost immigration to help avert labour shortages and a crisis in its pension system.

The government is working on attracting foreign workers to “keep the show on the road” despite an ageing population, making an estimated 7% rise in population to 90 million by 2070 plausible, Scholz told a citizen forum in Potsdam, near Berlin.

The German government last month agreed plans to reform immigration law, as Berlin seeks to open up the job market in Europe’s biggest economy to much-needed workers from outside the European Union.

The government has said it wants to boost immigration and training to tackle a skills shortage weighing on the German economy at a time of weakening growth, with an aging population piling pressure on the public pension system.

Scholz said that current population growth due in part to rising immigration meant the government might not to raise pension contributions before the end of its mandate in 2025.

Germany’s statistics office said last week the population would likely rise by 1 million to 84 million this year due to migration from Ukraine. It could reach 90 million in coming decades, if immigration was high, it added.

Source: Germany’s Scholz says strong immigration may secure population boost to 90 million

Mesut Özil’s case stirs debate on German nationality laws | Daily Sabah

Of interest (while or course Turkey erases identities of its Kurdish, Assyrian, Armenian and Greek minorities):

In the mid-1900s, West Germany experienced the “Wirtschaftswunder” – which means “economic miracle” in German – but after the Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961, West Germany’s labor crisis was exacerbated due to the fact that the flow of immigrants from East Germany was restricted. As a result of the shortage of workers, the West German government felt the need to sign a labor recruitment agreement with Türkiye on Oct. 30,1961, paving the way for Turkish people’s immigration to the country.

Since then, German legislators have time and time again failed to fully embrace the nation’s multiculturalism, and Germans of Turkish descent were not provided with a feasible path to citizenship. In addition, religious bigotry was also practiced against ethnic Turks who are overwhelmingly Muslims.

One of the most prominent signs for the fact that xenophobia peaked in the country was former Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) infamously telling former British Prime Minister, the “iron lady” Margaret Thatcher that he didn’t have a problem with European immigrants but that “Turks belong to a very distinct culture.” He also had the audacity to supply monetary inducements for them to return to Türkiye.

Only in the 1990s did Germany pave a path to citizenship for non-ethnic Germans who lived in the nation for over 15 years. And only at the dawn of the 21stt century, did the then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and the lobbying by the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the Greens to lower this lengthy residency criteria to eight years for all and introduce a “jus soli” basis – or birthright citizenship – to be also valid alongside its current “jus sanguinis,” which is the ethnicity-based citizenship framework. This is glaringly different from the United States’ practice of automatically granting people born on American territory ID cards and passports. To qualify for citizenship, a child must have one parent who has lived legally in Germany for a minimum of eight years. “Until the end of the 1990s, you were a German or a foreigner. There was nothing in between,” Ferda Ataman, who is currently Germany’s anti-discrimination commissioner, previously said about the issue.

Still, Germany’s immigration policy evolved from refusal to reluctance. The SPD had to make compromises to get the new citizenship law past conservatives in the CDU and Free Democratic Party (FDP) which argued that permitting naturalized or Germans that got their citizenship through the “jus soli” basis to maintain their previous citizenship was an “act of provocation” that would “sow the seeds of division.”

Such opposition was laced with racism and right-wing German politicians complained such relaxation would lead to the “formation of ghettos.” The CDU opposed dual nationality and forced the SPD and Greens into incorporating a clause that kids who became German citizens under the jus soli framework and had a second nationality would have to choose one citizenship upon assuming legal adulthood. Ironically, this policy did not apply to the ethnic Germans who are dual citizens of both Germany and another country.

Nevertheless, a wholesale ban on dual citizenship, which, in theory, applied to all non-ethnic Germans, was particularly aimed at Turkish Germans and other Muslim minority immigrants. An exception was also granted to dual nationals of other European Union states and Switzerland – which sits right at the heart of the EU’s geography but rejects to join the bloc over its principle to stay neutral in global politics.

Mesut Özil case

I have researched and focused on such legal details to highlight their inherent inconsistencies and how they became part of Turkish-German football star Mesut Özil’s narrative. The footballer was born to a third-generation Turkish-German family in 1988 and only assumed German citizenship when he turned 17. He had to renege on his Turkish passport soon after. Though Özil was passionate to play for Germany back then, the compulsory decision seems to have left a deep emotional wound in his psyche.

Such realities also undermine Germany’s rhetoric on integration. Formerly a paragon of productive integration, Özil swiftly learned that this status would only be safeguarded by renouncing his Turkish roots. In his 2018 resignation, Özil blamed the former German Football Association (DFB) President Reinhard Grindel, a former CDU member of parliament, for having “voted against legislation for dual nationalities” during his tenure.

The government already scrapped the dual citizenship provision for most naturalized and “jus soli” Germans who grew up in Germany in 2014 due to the lobbying by the SPD, and Germany is painstakingly adjusting to its multicultural composition, albeit hesitantly. This evolution was accelerated by the arrival of refugees in 2015 under the then-Chancellor Angela Merkel and by Özil’s resignation.

Özil’s withdrawal from the German national team was such a jolt to the country’s cohesion that it forced many ethnic Germans to deal with the bitter reality that their country was not as accommodating as they had perceived. Germany officially announced plans to speed up its naturalization process. Palestinian German politician Sawsan Chebli labeled the reality an “indictment of our country” and wondered if “we will ever belong? My doubts are growing daily.”

Ordinary Germans of color kicked off a huge social media campaign to share their lived experiences of racism under the hashtag “#MeTwo” – which essentially altered Germany’s debate with regard to racial issues, ethnicity and identity. And even Grindel apologized for his actions, vowing substantive reform within the DFB, lamenting that he “needed to stand by Mesut Özil.”

In 2022, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the SPD favored Reem Alabali-Radovan to be Germany’s first-ever federal anti-racism officer. And this past week, Scholz’s government confirmed that the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community headed by Nancy Faeser was promulgating new nationality reform. Faeser plans to lower the citizenship application residency requirement from eight to five years, a reduction that would also extend to jus soli provisions. She also plans to scrap all restrictions on dual citizenship.

Zero-sum game

If properly implemented, these are welcome first steps as they would offer representation and voting rights to over 9 million non-citizen residents who productively contribute to Germany’s economy and society. The conservatives’ obsession with dual citizenship was always illogical. “Belonging and identity are not a zero-sum game,” Scholz told the German parliament during a debate this week.

Expect opposition from the FDP and CDU, and outright rejection from Germany’s controversial far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which has gained alarming political clout over the past decade. The AfD is often called “Neo-Nazi” because of apparent racism and xenophobia among its members, who embrace more controversial and populist stances against Scholz and Faeser’s more reasonable recommendations. CDU leader Friedrich Merz has warned of immigrants skirting integration and abusing the welfare state properties of Germany.

Scholz may not need the green light from the AfD and CDU to pass his recommendations, however, the FDP is a part of the current coalition and is likely to undermine the commendable reforms. It’s remarkable how out of touch these three parties’ comments are with Germany’s swiftly evolving cultural, social, sporting and economic journey over 20 years. Such inconsistencies are even more pronounced with Mesut Özil back in the news.

At FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the departure of Germany’s outstanding football legend Özil attests how his withdrawal represents a deep scar for a country that is deeply politically divided and still racially segregated, both on and off the football pitch. Scholz’s recommended new citizenship law will never undo the racist abuse faced by Mesut Özil, suffered by Ilkay Günoğan, experienced by Antonio Rüdiger, Son Hueng-Min and hundreds of other Germans of color and religious minorities, but it can mitigate Özil’s main complaint by reassessing more holistically what it means to “be German” in a post-modern, multiethnic multicultural society. It can also be a first step toward proving to a skeptical global public that Özil’s disastrous departure has become one of the leading causes for inclusive reform in a country where segregation and racism still exist. This is Germany’s moment of reckoning; with itself, its past and also its future.

Source: Mesut Özil’s case stirs debate on German nationality laws | Daily Sabah

German government defends plan to ease citizenship rules

Watching with interest on how the debate and discussion proceeds given significance of shift (disclosure our son in Germany would benefit from these changes):

Germany’s government on Monday defended a plan to make it easier for people to apply for citizenship, countering complaints from within the ruling coalition and the opposition that it might encourage illegal immigration.

The government has said it wants to boost immigration and training to tackle a skills shortage weighing on Europe’s largest economy at a time of weakening growth, and when an aging population is piling pressure on the public pension system.

A position paper obtained by Reuters – and earlier reported on by the German news site t-online – shows the government wants to do that in part by sigificantly reducing the income threshhold for migration and introducing a points system.

“Anyone who lives and works here on a permanent basis should also be able to vote and be elected, they should be part of our country with all the rights and duties that go with it,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a televised immigration forum.

“And this should be completely independent of origin, skin colour or religious affiliation,” he added.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, from Scholz’s Social Democrats (SPD), has outlined plans to cut the maximum number of years a person must wait before becoming a citizen from eight to five, and lift restrictions on dual nationality.

German language requirements for citizenship would also be eased for members of the so-called “Gastarbeiter” generation, many of them Turkish, who came to Germany in the 1950s and 1960s as migrant workers.

Scholz further said that Germany, echoing a policy in other countries, would introduce a “transparent, unbureaucratic” immigration points system to allow foreigners who have the right qualifications to apply for work.

It would also be made easier to study or obtain qualifications in Germany, he said.

Scholz defended allowing immigrants to hold dual citizenship, arguing that “belonging and identity are not a zero-sum game.”

The draft legislation will be discussed by cabinet on Wednesday, Scholz said, after which it must be put to lawmakers in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

The secretary-general of the FDP, the junior partner in coalition with the SPD and environmentalist Greens, has spoken out against the plan. In an interview with the Rheinische Post, Bijan Djir-Sarai questioned its timing while decrying a lack of progress on deportations and combating illegal migration.

Faeser played down differences in the coalition and said that all parties had signed up to the plan in their coalition agreement. The legal changes could take effect in the summer of 2023, she added.

Source: German government defends plan to ease citizenship rules