Germany has emerged as one of the world’s most preferred destinations for migrants. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stated in 2019 that Germany remains second only to the USA as the most popular country for immigration. In none of the 35 OECD member states has migration risen as fast in recent years as in Germany. In 2015 the figure of two million new foreigners set a record.
Many of them came seeking protection; above all wars and conflicts, e.g. in Syria and Iraq, led to many people fleeing their home countries and seeking shelter elsewhere. In 2015 Germany still recorded about 890,000 asylum-seekers, but the figure has continued to fall since.
Number of naturalisations increased
The Federal Government champions reducing the causes of flight and irregular migration as well as actively structuring and controlling migration processes. This includes people with no prospect of residence in Germany returning to their countries of origin, and support for their reintegration there.
In 2019 there was a total of some 11.2 million foreign passport holders living in Germany. 21.2 million people had a migrant background, including immigrants, foreigners born in Germany, and persons who had a parent who was either an immigrant or a foreigner. The group thus accounts for around a quarter of the total population.
Around 10.9 million persons with a migrant background were German passport holders; of them, 5.5 million have been German citizens since birth. A further large proportion immigrated to Germany as (late) repatriates; the remaining proportion of people with a migrant background have taken German citizenship. In 2019 alone around 128,900 foreigners acquired German citizenship. The sharp rise on the previous year of around 15 percent is primarily the result of Britain’s exit from the EU. In 2019 14,600 UK citizens were naturalised, more than in the two previous years put together.
Skilled workers immigrating from third countries
Migrants play a key role in Germany’s social and economic development. The growing need for skilled workers has increasingly brought well-qualified migrants to Germany and the Federal Government wishes to enable further immigration, amongst others to counteract the lack of skilled labour resulting from demographic change.
Flanking greater activation of the in-country pool for potential employment and of immigration from EU member states, the Federal Government also considers immigration by skilled labour from third-party countries a way to blunt the impact of demographic change and help secure the base of skilled labour.