Germany considers new
nationality law to lift ban
on dual citizenship

The authorities in Germany are considering passing a new nationality law that will make it easier for foreign nationals to gain German citizenship. The proposed changes are part of a wider shake-up of the immigration rules aimed at tackling ongoing labour shortages within the country.

The draft law, which will be put to lawmakers in the coming months, would allow people to apply for German citizenship after five years of residence, instead of the current eight. A fast-track option would also be made available for those who have made particular efforts to integrate, for example by becoming proficient in the German language, performing well in school or undertaking voluntary work. Such individuals would be eligible to apply after just three years.

If passed, the new law would represent the biggest transformation of Germany’s nationality rules since 2000, when children born to immigrant parents in Germany automatically qualified for German citizenship for the first time.

Lifting the ban on dual citizenship

The new law would also lift the ban on dual citizenship for people from non-EU countries, meaning immigrants would no longer be required to surrender their home country nationality. Under the current law, only those with an EU passport or those who have one parent from Germany are eligible to hold dual German citizenship.

For many immigrants, the obligation to surrender their passport from their birth country in order to gain German citizenship is a dealbreaker, and the idea that you can have only one homeland is considered outdated by many.

An estimated 10 million people are currently living in Germany without a German passport – roughly 12% of the population.

Attracting talent from overseas

The plans come as Germany seeks new ways to attract more foreign workers amid widespread international competition. Germany’s current eight-year residency requirement is restrictive compared to other countries in Europe, such as Ireland and France which require only five years.

Germany’s population hit a high of 84.3 million in 2022, fueled by a record increase in net migration. Despite the increase, a recent survey showed that more than half of German companies are struggling to fill vacancies due to a lack of skilled workers.

Next steps

The proposals will now be put to a vote by lawmakers in the coming months, with a view to being implemented by summer 2023.

The reforms are expected to face backlash from some critics, including those in the opposition Christian Democratic Union Party, who say that the idea of speeded-up naturalisation is misguided. The far-right Alternative for Germany party has also criticised the proposals, suggesting that the government would be “flogging off German passports dirt cheap to people who haven’t sufficiently integrated”.

However, the biggest obstacle to the reforms is not political opposition but the need to overcome German bureaucracy which is already delaying existing applications. There are currently around 100,000 citizenship applications awaiting processing in Germany, some dating back three years. The planned reforms could lead to an estimated 50 – 100% increase in applications, which will in turn significantly increase waiting times.

Unless the German immigration authorities can get more staff to help process the backlog, an increase in applications as a result of the changes could lead to administrative chaos.

Introducing SSW in Germany

As a result of continued growth and development, Smith Stone Walters is delighted to announce that we are expanding our international reach and opening a new operation in Germany.

Our Frankfurt based team will enable us to meet the growing needs of our European clients even more efficiently and locally facilitate all German inbound immigration work with the highest level of service.

SSW has over 30 years’ experience in German immigration. Our new team in Germany upholds the same service standard our clients have become accustomed to at SSW. To find out more about the services we can offer, please call 0208 461 6660 or email


Disclaimer: In accordance with the German law governing legal advice and services (RDG, section 2 subsection 1) our services do not include any legal advice.

Share story
Back to top of page