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German citizenship numbers reach new high, with significant Syrian naturalizations

German citizenship numbers reach new high, with significant Syrian naturalizations

German citizenship numbers reach new high, with significant Syrian naturalizations

German citizenship numbers reach new high, with significant Syrian naturalizations

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  • This follows a 28% rise in 2022, driven by the naturalization of large numbers of Syrians.
  • Syrians, who migrated to Germany between 2014 and 2016, made up 38% of the total, a 56% increase from 2022.
  • Turkiye and Iraq citizens also became German citizens, placing them second.

Official data released Tuesday revealed that Germany experienced another significant increase in the number of people gaining citizenship last year. Large numbers of individuals from Syria contributed to pushing naturalizations to their highest level since at least 2000.

The Federal Statistical Office reported that it granted German citizenship to about 200,100 people in 2023. This marked an increase of about 31,000, or 19 percent, compared with the previous year. The increase followed a 28 percent rise in 2022, which was also fueled by large numbers of Syrians being naturalized as increasing numbers of people who migrated to Germany between 2014 and 2016 fulfilled the requirements for citizenship.

According to the statistics office, last year saw the naturalization of 75,500 people from Syria, making it the largest single group, accounting for 38 percent of the total. This marked a 56 percent increase compared with 2022. On average, they had spent 6.8 years in Germany before becoming citizens.

Last year, approximately 10,700 citizens of Turkiye and Iraq became German citizens, placing those groups in second place. The overall number of new citizens reached the highest level since current records began in 2000, following a change in the law. Under this change, people of German ancestry from the former Soviet Union, who arrived in large numbers in the 1990s, were automatically granted citizenship rather than having to apply for it.

The requirements for being granted citizenship include demonstrating a working knowledge of German and providing proof of being able to support oneself financially.

Under the law, as it stood last year, people were generally required to have lived in Germany for at least eight years, although this requirement did not apply to spouses and children. The period could be reduced to six years for individuals who demonstrated “special integration accomplishments” such as very good language proficiency, professional achievements, or civic engagement.

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New legislation, which will take effect on June 27, is easing those rules. People will be eligible for citizenship after residing in Germany for five years, or three in the case of “special integration accomplishments.” German-born children will automatically become citizens if one parent has been a legal resident for five years, a reduction from the current requirement of eight years.

The new legislation will also eliminate restrictions on holding dual citizenship. In principle, most people from countries other than European Union members and Switzerland have had to relinquish their previous nationality when acquiring German citizenship, although there were some exemptions.

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