Amidst an “integration summit” on Monday at the Chancellery in Berlin, German Vice Chancellor Phillipp Rösler demanded that newcomers to Germany be allowed to maintain their citizenship in their home country. Rösler hopes that this will help Germany to attract skilled immigrants from countries outside the EU. His position on the issue directly challenges the beliefs of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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Under German law, a person is not allowed to have more than one citizenship unless he/she is born with both, meaning that a child born to an American parent and a German parent acquires both American and German citizenship at birth, regardless of place of birth. Neither country requires a person born under these circumstances to choose between American and German citizenship. They may keep both for life.
A child born in Germany to two American (or other non-EU member nation’s) parents, however, may also become a dual national at birth. But under German law, the child has to choose between American and German citizenship before turning 23.
Also, if a person from a country other than Germany becomes a German goes through the naturalization process, he or she must renounce his/her former citizenship. Rösler believes that these laws are discouraging skilled workers from migrating to Germany.
Rösler claims that “securing experts is one of the greatest challenges facing the German economy”. He believes that adopting the ability to acquire dual citizenship in Germany could provide an additional incentive to attract qualified specialists to Germany and help establish a more welcoming culture in the country.
Despite studies suggesting that recent immigrants to Germany are more often better educated than Germans, conservative members of Merkel’s party refuse to even consider dual citizenship. General Secretary Alexander Dobrindt of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union has even stated, “We say a clear no to dual citizenship. German citizenship is not a junk item to be hawked cheaply”.
Increasingly though, conservatives have indicated a willingness to revisit the law on dual citizenship, including members of the Social Democrats and the Greens. However, on Tuesday, Chancellor Merkel personally gave her opinion on the matter, favoring to keep the current law that requires a decision on a single citizenship to be made by the age of 23.
Author: Sean Foley, Legal Trainee, Bridgehouse Law Charlotte
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Reinhard von Hennigs