The incoming German coalition government’s plans to overhaul the country’s citizenship laws, including the much-anticipated step of allowing foreign residents to become citizens in as little as three years, is most likely to take place sometime next year, according to top immigration industry professionals.
German attorney Aykut Elseven, who is a founding partner at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, told Uglobal that the recent coalition agreement in Germany is expected to pave the way for a more liberal immigration policy, which would in turn improve the prospects of foreign investors and entrepreneurs even more in the country.
CITIZENSHIP LAW EXPECTED TO CHANGE IN 2022
The German government is currently at an important phase of transition following general elections in September, which saw the country’s longtime Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU conservative bloc lose out to Germany's first soon-to-be formally inducted three-party coalition government at the national level: Center-left Social Democrats (SPD), The Green Party and the neoliberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).
Late November, these three coalition government parties announced they had agreed on a wide range of reforms and policy changes, including making bold changes to the country’s citizenship laws that were said to have been based on old ideas of descent by blood.
Elseven said there were still quite a few things that were yet to happen in Germany before any changes to the citizenship laws take place, which he predicts would only take place sometime next year.
“The constituent session of the Parliament (Bundestag) has already taken place after the election in September. The draft coalition agreement between the new coalition parties has also been published.”
“At present, however, the parties are still voting on it internally, so that a final conclusion of the coalition agreement is still pending. The likely new Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has also not yet been elected.
“As long as the coalition agreement has not been concluded, no proposed legislation based on it will be introduced in the Bundestag. Therefore, a possible change in the citizenship law in Germany can be expected next year at the earliest,” Elseven said.
POSSIBILITY OF GAINING GERMAN CITIZENSHIP IN 3 YEARS
Among the major reforms expected in the citizenship law are the possibilities that all foreign residents would be able to become citizens in three years as opposed to the current process that could at times even take a whole decade; also, the option of gaining dual citizenship status and children of foreign residents automatically gaining citizenship are also in the cards.
“The draft coalition agreement provides for the creation of a ‘modern citizenship law’,” Elseven said.
“The possibility of dual citizenship and the acquisition of German citizenship should be facilitated. As a rule, naturalization should according to the draft agreement be possible after five years, and even after three years in the case of special integration achievements.”
“What exactly is meant by the term ‘special integration achievements’ is not stated in the draft agreement. It should be possible to acquire a settlement permit after three years. Children born in Germany to foreign parents should become German citizens at birth if one parent has had a legal habitual residence in Germany for five years already. Please keep in mind, however, that these are not yet concrete draft laws, but only declarations of intent,” Elseven said.
MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENTREPRENEURS, INVESTORS EXPECTED
While the draft coalition agreement does not specifically point out any benefits for foreign investors and entrepreneurs, Elseven said there is hope that they would get more opportunities under the new coalition government.
“It is not clear from the draft coalition agreement that a residence title or citizenship can now be acquired solely through an investment,” he said. “However, investors and entrepreneurs already have the opportunity to start their business in Germany under the current law and to obtain a residence permit for self-employed persons for example.”
“We strongly assume that this possibility will remain under the new government. Because the new draft of the coalition agreement is aimed overall at a more liberal immigration policy, it is also possible that further opportunities will be added for investors and entrepreneurs to pursue an entrepreneurial activity in Germany. This remains to be seen,” Elseven added.
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