Lawmakers in the upper house of Parliament have passed legislation that will simplify the naturalization process.
German lawmakers have passed a bill that eases the process of obtaining citizenship and decided to simplify repatriations.
The naturalization reform, approved on Friday by the upper house of Parliament, allows German citizens to become German citizens while retaining their original citizenship.
People will be able to apply for citizenship after living in Germany for five years instead of eight years. Children of foreign parents will also obtain German citizenship at birth if one parent has legally resided in Germany for five years instead of eight.
If applicants demonstrate “particular integration achievements” through particularly good performance in school, work, or civic engagement, they may be eligible for naturalization after just three years.
An important aspect of the new law is that people who obtain German citizenship will not be forced to renounce the citizenship of their country of origin, which was previously only possible for residents of other countries of the EU in Germany.
This will allow tens of thousands of Turks born in Germany to become voters.
Likewise, Germans who wish to become citizens of another country will no longer need special permission from German authorities.
The bill was presented by the socially liberal coalition of center-left Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The main center-right opposition bloc criticized the plan, saying it would devalue German citizenship.
The invoice was approved by the German lower house two weeks ago. At the time, Scholz welcomed the legislation and said it was aimed at those who had lived and worked in Germany for “decades.”
“With the new citizenship law, we say to all those who have often lived and worked in Germany for decades, who respect our laws and who are at home here: you belong to Germany,” Scholz said.
Filiz Polat, a Green Party migration expert, welcomed the prospect of dual citizenship and criticized parties opposed to the law as failing to understand the “modern immigration society that has long existed in Germany.”
Al Jazeera’s Dominic Kane, reporting from Berlin, said there had been “speech in favor and speech against” the bill in state parliament.
“But ultimately the House decided not to vote for it, but also not to vote against it,” Kane said. This means that the law is adopted under the German Constitution.
“The elected chamber of Parliament had already voted in favor,” he explained.
The legislation still needs to be approved by the upper house of the German parliament and the president as a formality before becoming law.
It will go into effect no earlier than mid-May, Kane said.
Hundreds of thousands of people are already in the system, meaning there will likely be a huge delay before new applications are processed, our correspondent added.