Germany records highest number of naturalizations since 2000

Germany records highest number of naturalizations since 2000
Germany records highest number of naturalizations since 2000

Over 200,000 people from 157 different countries obtained German citizenship in 2023 — a record since the turn of the century. From June 2024, it will become easier to become a German citizen.

Around 200,100 people were naturalized as German citizens in 2023, the highest number in a single year since the turn of the millennium, according to new government statistics released on Tuesday.

The figures come just one month before new relaxed rules on German citizenship and dual citizenship are due to come into force in Germany at the end of June.

The total number of naturalizations increased by around 31,000 (or 19%) compared to 2022’s total, a slightly smaller increase than the approximately 37,000 (28%) recorded in comparison to 2021.

More than one third of new German citizens from Syria

The newly naturalized German citizens originally came from 157 different countries, the majority (56%) from either Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Romania and Afghanistan.

On average, they were 29.3 years old and thus significantly younger than the average age of the German population (44.6 years old). A little more than half (55%) were male, 5% more than the German national average.

Former Syrian citizens alone made up over a third (38%) of total naturalizations, their number increasing by 27,100 (over 56%), to around 75,500 in 2023.

Syrian nationals who received a German passport in 2023 were on average 24.5 years old and 64% male. The average successful applicant had spent 6.8 years in Germany. In 2023, one German village even elected a Syrian refugee as its mayor.

“The high number of naturalizations of Syrians correlates with the high number of Syrian asylum seekers who migrated [to Germany] between 2014 and 2016,” read a government press release, with minimum residency periods typically required before people become eligible to apply for citizenship.

“These [people] now increasingly fulfill the criteria for citizenship, including language skills and minimum length of stay.”

Fewer new German citizens from Turkey, Ukraine growth rate slows

In contrast, the number of Turkish and Ukrainian migrants receiving German citizenship in 2023 sank in comparison to 2022.

Turkish nationals, along with Iraqis, still represented the second-biggest group with around 10,700 new naturalizations. However, naturalized Turks last year were 3,500 (-25%) fewer than in 2022.

While the number of Ukrainians applying for and receiving German citizenship almost tripled from 1,900 to 5,600 between 2021 and 2022 following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the rate of acceleration slowed in 2023. Some 5,900, an increase of 6%, became German citizens in 2023 — with Ukrainians making up 3% of the year’s total.

More Israelis applying for ‘reparative’ German citizenship

Meanwhile, more and more Israeli citizens and other descendants of victims of Germany’s Nazi 1933-45 dictatorship are applying for German citizenship, too.

On Monday, German authorities said they had received nearly 6,900 applications from people based in Israel in the first four months of 2024 alone. For comparison, there were some 9,100 such applications across the whole of 2023 and around almost 5,700 in 2022.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany (ZdJ) sees a correlation with the terror attack launched by Palestinian militant group Hamas on October 7, when around 1,200 Israelis were killed and around 250 more were taken hostage, prompting the current conflictin the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

So-called “reparative naturalization” is specifically provided for by the German constitution for victims of the national socialist regime who were persecuted and stripped of their citizenship, and for their descendants.

After Israel, the largest number of reparative naturalization applications come from the United States.

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