Friday, December 8

“Turkish Integration in Germany: The Complex Road to German Citizenship”

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Lana Birley

Freelance writer

The Turkish community in Germany has a rich history that dates back several decades, with the first wave of Turkish immigrants arriving in the 1960s as part of the guest worker program.

Over the years, this community has grown significantly, making it one of the largest minority groups in Germany.

While many Turks living in Germany have successfully integrated into German society, the path to gaining German citizenship has proven to be a challenging journey for some.

The presence of Turks in Germany is deeply rooted in the country’s post-war economic reconstruction efforts. They were initially recruited as Gastarbeiter, or guest workers, to help fill the labor gap.

Many Turks and their families settled in Germany, creating a vibrant and diverse community. However, the initial temporary status of these guest workers and their families created a complicated dynamic that continues to influence citizenship laws today.

Germany’s citizenship laws have evolved over the years, and the process of naturalization has not always been straightforward. The German Citizenship Act of 1913 restricted naturalization for non-Germans and made it difficult for immigrants to become citizens.

While this amendment improved the situation for many, it did not retroactively address the issues faced by older generations of Turkish immigrants.

One of the primary difficulties Turks face in gaining German citizenship is the legacy of the “Gastarbeiter” generation.

 Many individuals who came to Germany during this period did not initially intend to settle permanently. This temporary status created a gap in their ability to meet the residency and integration requirements necessary for naturalization.

Over the years, as some Turks chose to make Germany their permanent home, they encountered numerous legal obstacles on their path to citizenship.

To shed light on the complexities of obtaining German citizenship for Turks living in Germany, we will delve into the personal story of Aylin Yılmaz, a first-generation Turkish immigrant who has faced numerous challenges throughout her life in Germany.

Aylin’s journey to Germany began when her parents, like many others, came to the country in the 1970s.

Born in a small town near Istanbul, Aylin moved to Germany with her family when she was just five years old. Her parents, hopeful for better opportunities, initially intended to return to Turkey. However, as the years passed, they found themselves deeply rooted in Germany’s society and Aylin’s family decided to make the country their permanent home.

One of the first obstacles Aylin encountered was the recognition of her educational qualifications. After completing her German education, she aspired to become a nurse. However, her Turkish high school diploma wasn’t immediately accepted by German universities. Aylin had to go through an arduous process to have her qualifications recognized and ultimately fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse. These hurdles delayed her integration into German society and hindered her progress toward citizenship.

Aylin’s proficiency in the German language was another obstacle. While she was fluent in everyday conversation, passing the language requirements for citizenship proved challenging. To meet the stringent language criteria, she had to invest significant time and effort in language courses and preparation for the language proficiency test. These efforts, while ultimately rewarding, highlighted the difficulties Turkish immigrants like Aylin face in demonstrating their commitment to integrating into German society.

Like many in her generation, she also faced the dual citizenship dilemma.

She was proud of her Turkish heritage and wanted to maintain her connection to her family’s homeland. However, German laws at the time required renouncing one’s original nationality to become a German citizen. This decision would have severed her ties to Turkey, making it a difficult choice for Aylin. It was only after Germany introduced limited dual citizenship that she could maintain her ties to both countries.

According to VisaGuide.World, in order to gain German citizenship, individuals must meet specific language and integration requirements.

These include demonstrating proficiency in the German language, passing a citizenship test, and completing an integration course. While these requirements aim to ensure that new citizens can participate fully in German society, they can be challenging for older Turkish immigrants who may not have had access to language and integration resources during their early years in Germany.

Another significant obstacle faced by Turks as mentioned above is the issue of dual citizenship. Germany historically had a policy of requiring individuals to renounce their original citizenship when becoming German citizens.

This policy created a dilemma for Turkish immigrants, as Turkey did not permit dual citizenship. For those who wanted to maintain their ties to Turkey, this presented a substantial hurdle.

In 2014, Germany introduced a new law that allowed for limited dual citizenship.

This change was a positive step, as it permitted individuals born in Germany to maintain both German and their parents’ nationality until the age of 23. However, this still leaves many first-generation Turkish immigrants in a precarious situation, as they may have to choose between their German and Turkish identities.

Turkish immigrants in Germany have faced difficulties in having their qualifications, education, and professional experiences recognized. This can be a significant barrier to integration and

economic success, which are vital factors in the naturalization process. These challenges have led to frustration and a sense of exclusion for some Turks living in Germany.

As known, Turks living in Germany have made significant contributions to German society and have played an essential role in the country’s history and culture. However, the path to German citizenship has not always been easy for this community, particularly for the older generations who arrived as guest workers. While Germany has made progress in adapting its citizenship laws and integration policies, there are still ongoing challenges that Turkish immigrants face when seeking naturalization.

As Germany continues to address these issues, it is essential to create a more inclusive and equitable path to citizenship for long-standing members of the Turkish community, acknowledging their contributions to the nation and their desire to fully participate in German society while maintaining their cultural ties to Turkey.

Aylin’s personal story reflects the experiences of many Turks living in Germany who have faced a multitude of challenges in their journey to obtain German citizenship. Her determination and commitment to integration, despite the obstacles, showcase the resilience and dedication of immigrants striving to make Germany their home. While the path to citizenship remains difficult for some, Aylin’s story serves as a testament to the enduring spirit of those who have contributed to German society while holding onto their cultural roots.