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Germany introduces migration reforms to ease citizenship requirements

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By Omar Bah

The German government’s citizenship reforms programme, which will make it easier for many migrants to become German citizens, took effect yesterday, Thursday 27 June with thousands of undocumented migrants including Gambians expected to benefit.

The liberalisation will, for the first time, also permit multiple citizenships as a general rule, rather than as an exception for EU and Swiss nationals and those who can demonstrate “special hardships.”

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These new measures were announced by Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, in a recent statement. Germany’s rejection rate for multiple-entry Schengen visa is only 14%, falling below average.

The minster then explained the programme as follows: “Finally, our law is doing justice to our diverse society. We recognise the life stories and achievements of many people in our country who immigrated a long time ago and have helped our country to move forward. The message is very clear: You belong to Germany.”

According to official reports, more than 20,000 Gambians are officially registered in Germany. Out of these 20,000 migrants, 17,000 are registered in the Baden-Württemberg region while the rest are in other regions and areas like Berlin.

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Commenting on the new law coming into effect, Gambian-German based Migration Activist Yahya Sonko said: “From 2023 to date, there has been so many immigration laws that were changed by the new government and most of us are very happy with these laws because they are helpful to immigrants.”

He singled out an immigration law dubbed Paragraph 104C as one of the most favourable to immigrants.

“This paragraph helps Gambians or any immigrants who are living here for four years and never committed a crime so those immigrants can apply for residential permits throughout this paragraph. Since the law came into effect more than nine hundred Gambians have secured permits to stay in Germany. Many of these Gambians got the chance to visit the Gambia for the first time in December last year,” he said.

Currently, about 14% of the population in Germany does not have German citizenship.

According to government statistics, 168,545 people were naturalized in Germany in 2022—just 3.1% of foreign nationals who have been living in Germany for at least 10 years, though the number has been rising in recent years.

That number is set to increase substantially in the coming year as state governments across Germany have already reported a rise in applications.

 The new rules will give new rights to non-Germans who have been living in Germany for some time. Here are the main changes:

According to the new policy, applicants who need to become naturalized citizens will no longer have to give up their previous nationality to become German.

According to the German Government, for “special achievements in integration,” naturalisation will be possible after just three years. “These might include learning German, excellence at school or in professional life, engaging in civic life, or running for political office.”

It added that all children born in Germany to foreign parents will in future acquire German citizenship without reservation and will be able to retain the citizenship of their parents if at least one parent has been living in Germany lawfully for more than five years and has permanent residency.

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