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

“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 the 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.

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