The planned central naturalization center for all of Berlin is to gradually start work over the next year. “The aim is to have the first naturalizations there in 2023,” said Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD) on Monday after a visit to the State Office for Immigration in Moabit, to which the naturalization center is said to belong. By then, a building for up to 200 officers would have to be found and equipped accordingly, and the staff would have to be hired.

With the centralization of the naturalization of foreigners in the responsibility of the country, the process should be accelerated and improved. The waiting times for future German nationals must be significantly reduced, said SPD parliamentary group leader Raed Saleh. “The situation today is unsustainable, sometimes there is a three or four year waiting period.”

Waiting for the first, legally required consultation before the actual application for naturalization often takes a year or longer, said the head of the state immigration office, Engelhard Mazanke. In Munich, interested parties can do this via a “quick check” on the Internet and then submit their application directly.

The new naturalization center is to work largely digitally, unlike the old file administrations in the districts. 15 million euros are planned in the future 2022/2023 budget for construction and staff. So far, the twelve Berlin districts are responsible.

For more than 20 years, between 6,000 and 7,000 foreigners have been naturalized in Berlin every year. In 2020 there were around 600 Turks, 450 Britons, 435 Poles, followed by Iranians, Syrians, Vietnamese, Italians and people from numerous other countries. The Senate wants to increase the number to as much as 20,000 a year, but admits that’s an ambitious goal. At the end of 2024 one could know whether this mark could be reached, said Mazanke.

Saleh suggested the new business site in Siemensstadt in Spandau as the location of the naturalization center – Saleh also has his constituency in the district. But that still needs to be discussed. Spranger and Saleh hope that clerks from the districts will also apply for the new central authority. The districts have so far had a total of 82 positions for this task.

According to statistics, of the 3.7 million inhabitants of Berlin, 570,000 are Germans with a migration background and 800,000 foreigners without a German passport – mainly from the EU (about 35 percent), Eastern Europe and Turkey (almost 30 percent) and Arab and Asian countries (almost 25 Percent).

According to estimates, about 450,000 of them could be naturalized as Germans, said Spranger. Prerequisites are, among other things, that you have been living in Germany for a long time, have a fixed income and no criminal record.