Download unabridged MIPEX III  in German (pdf)

Download abridged MIPEX III Germany in German (pdf)



In this major country of immigration and emigration, immigration and asylum have long declined since 1995. Newcomers’ integration policies little improved in 3 years, but are halfway favourable, and comparable to other major immigration countries. Germany scores average for Europe on education and family reunion policies, but far below on equality policies and long-term residence conditions. 2007’s EU-Richtlinienumsetzungsgesetz aimed both to demand and promote real participation in society. Indeed, a more objective citizenship test may help naturalisation rates rise and converge across Germany. However new German tests abroad may demand more than spouses can do abroad. The effect may not promote couples’ integration, but rather undermine family reunions. Test scores may be poor indicators of immigrants’ many harder-to-measure skills and aspirations to integrate in Germany. Future research can assess these findings.

MIPEX saw Germany’s policies improve through public evaluations (e.g. courses) and partnership with länder and NGOs (e.g. National Action Plan). Still, immigrants are better consulted at regional/local than national level. Areas like education see more intentions and well-evaluated projects than actual entitlements. Changes often require authorities cooperate to reach national consensus.

Timeline - What's Changed

0 July 2007
Labour market mobility
National Integration Plan to improve courses, language, labour market, education
-7 August 2007
Family reunion – conditions
EU-Richtlinien-umsetzungsgesetz introduces language test abroad for spouses
+15 August 2007
Access to nationality – conditions
EU-Richtlinien-umsetzungsgesetz harmonises und standardises citizenship test, language conditions
0 December 2007
Associations can give limited support to discrimination victims in court, lawyer still mandatory
-1 December 2008
Long-term residence – conditions
New Integration course concept introduces test for long-term residence
-7 December 2008
Family reunion – conditions
New Integration course concept introduces test for familiy members
+14 February 2009
Access to nationality – security
Amended nationality law places 5-year time limit on citizenship withdrawal for fraud/deceit
0 September 2009
Labour market mobility
New CDU-CSU-FDP government agreement on integration, including qualification recognition

Key Findings

  • Average education policies: more ad hoc funding/projects than entitlements in länder. 
  • Most professional ‘citizenship test’, but language levels may be too high to pass. 
  • Discrimination law undermined by weak equality bodies/commitments, most countries give better help to potential victims. 
  • Clear path to citizenship like major countries of immigration. 
  • Some of best targeted measures for labour market integration, except in recognising qualifications. 
  • German tests abroad for spouses may facilitate or discourage integration in Germany. 
  • Secure residence and equal rights for families, as in Northern Europe. 
  • Most restrictive conditions for long-term residence in Europe or North America.  
  • Foreigners have some political opportunities at local/regional level, but not in elections or national politics. 

Score Changes

Areas of Integration

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    Recognising immigrants’ full potential

    More countries are guaranteeing foreign-trained workers equal and facilitated recognition of their qualifications (e.g. CA, LU, PT) – perhaps soon, Germany. Christian Democrats and Liberals agreed in September 2009 that changing the law could help an estimated 300,000 qualified immigrants to better contribute economically, while reducing labour shortages for engineers, scientists, doctors, etc. Current procedures require complicated and time-consuming co-operation between länder and professional organisations. Meanwhile, many länder, wanting more integrated and efficient public sectors, are reaching out to people with migrant backgrounds (e.g. Berlin needs you!).

    Though slightly favourable and 6th-highest on MIPEX, Germany’s labour market mobility policies are not yet reformed to fully help immigrants to find jobs matching their skills and qualifications. Most non-EU workers have generally equal access and rights. Following the National Integration Plan, national, regional and local policies provide the most targeted support in MIPEX countries (after SE). Current policies may still be less effective for qualified newcomers who cannot contribute to the public sector unless for ‘urgent official needs’ (unlike in 12 MIPEX countries) or equally use study grants (unlike 9). Problems recognising non-EU qualifications encourage ‘brain waste’ and place non-EU newcomers in jobs below their skills, which led to new coalition commitments (see box). 

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    Earlier German, better integration for all?

    2007’s Act transposed 11 EU directives and introduced unrelated measures like the German test abroad. MIPEX finds it less an obstacle to integration (57) than the Dutch (14), because professionals (Goethe Institute) assess only German language and offer courses. Still, French free courses/tests (71) score better for integration goals. Evaluations using the Act’s stated objectives and application/rejection rates should find as many spouses coming to Germany, but with better German when starting integration courses. This would ‘ease integration in Germany’ for all separated non-EU couples.

    Families who see their life together in Germany go through average procedures for Europe in all respects, except for new tests (as in only 4 other countries, see long-term residence), also abroad (only 3, see box). Sponsors wait different periods for different family members, some much longer than in most countries (e.g. only 8 require 2 years’ residence or more). Sponsors are reunited with spouses or homosexual partners (as in half) once becoming adults at 18 (as in 22). Sometimes, dependent adult children/parents can join (as in 17). If the average conditions are met, families have relatively secure and equal rights. Refusals or withdrawals must be justified, their personal circumstances considered, and open to appeal. 

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    From practices to policies

    Newcomers take ‘pre-courses’ and language assessments at preprimary level. All do not benefit from further quality German-as-a-second-language courses. Across Germany, there are some common language assessment tools (e.g. from FörMig) but no language learning standards, teacher training or monitoring (see Nordics, US), nor support to implement intercultural education (e.g. BE, NL, PT, UK).


    More migrant teachers

    Most länder have started campaigns to encourage people with migrant backgrounds to study education and become teachers. Hamburg establishes diversity quotas, while others give priority to speakers of immigrant languages. North- Rhine Westphalia specially targets ethnic Germans from the former USSR Aussiedler. See also DK, NL, NO, SE, UK.

    As in most European countries, Germany, with its various school types and tracks, creates many challenges for migrant pupils; some specific to their family’s migration experience, but many shared with families of the same social class. Projects, entirely dependent on funding and political will, only address their needs in some schools or for some part of their school career. Many educational authorities therefore know what to do and can do it, but not for all pupils and parents. Well-evaluated projects can become policies. National integration indicators and objectives already set goals for all länders’ pupils, with or without a migrant background, to achieve and participate in school. Several other federal/decentralised countries (e.g. SE, US) have agreed entitlements for any migrant pupil with specific needs, while states and municipalities decide how to address them.

    As in AT, Benelux, Nordics and the US, migrant pupils and parents in länder education systems are encouraged to participate in all school types and tracks: from pre-primary (e.g. intercultural education, HIPPY, Griffbereit), secondary education (e.g. FörMig, ‘Rucksack’ Förderunterricht from Mercator foundation), vocational training (e.g. KAUSA, Netzwerk IQ) and higher education (e.g. Audit Diversity). Still, newcomers may be placed in the wrong year or level because expert institutions (see FR, LU) do not assess all they learned abroad. Moreover, not all pupils actually living in the country can access education, since children with undocumented parents only have a legal right in 5 länder. Half the MIPEX countries give them equal access to all school levels.

    Many schools retain much discretion about whether or not to target the new needs and opportunities that diversity brings to the classroom. Pupils benefit from general support and funding if socially disadvantaged. For other needs, schools have good data on performance and segregation (e.g. National Education and Socioeconomic Panels) but provide each pupil, parent or teacher with few additional entitlements (see box). Schools do teach immigrant languages (as in 22) in many ways, in and outside classroom and sometimes to all pupils. The curriculum does teach all pupils to appreciate cultural diversity, but rarely the specific immigrant cultures in Germany (see box). 

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    Germany, like most established immigration countries, provides newcomers some political opportunities, but few in democratic or national politics. Since 1994, it is clear that voting rights (as in 19 MIPEX countries) would require political will for constitutional change (see also AT, IT, ES, PT). In the meantime, some political parties exclude non-nationals from internal posts. Non-EU nationals enjoy individual political liberties (as in 19), including the right to join parties. They also enjoy civil society support to represent their interests. Immigrants are better consulted by municipalities and länder than by the national government. Their structural, independent and elected bodies are favourable models for future national conferences on integration (see also DK, FI, NL national, NO).

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    Quality courses, enough to test?

    Germany provides free tests/materials and courses at about 1€ per hour (free in e.g. DK, FR, LV, PT). Based on a 2006 evaluation to improve course quality, language and orientation courses offer an extra 315 hours total. Mandatory tests, which may create a less favourable learning environment, aim to provide authorities with more reliable statistics. Past tests had strong selection biases, since only those believing they would pass would take them. Future evaluations can better assess whether or not these courses are successful for all applicants.

    Around 10 points below average, Germany withholds long-term residence permits from newcomers who cannot meet conditions that are as demanding as for full citizenship. While several countries (e.g. NL, UK) transposed some conditions on to long-term residence, no other requires as many as Germany (scoring 8). Only 6 others limit applicants to workers, and just DK and EE to B1 language speakers (see box). Most accept any basic legal income and just basic language knowledge, without integration tests. Others also better retain international students through long-term residence (e.g. CA, DK, NL, SE, recently AT, BE, ES). If finally accepted, long-term residents enjoy more secure and equal rights in Germany, as in most of North and Northwest Europe. 

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    More secure and objective

    A 2006 Federal Constitutional Court’s ruling found that 5 years was sufficient for authorities to detect fraud or deceit after naturalisation. Also in 2006, länder interior ministers took one step to standardise and harmonise naturalisation requirements, which were leading to unequal treatment and accusations of discrimination. Language requirements aside, the new ‘citizenship’ test (scoring 83) better supports applicants to succeed. They can prepare with free courses and test questions and then take more objective and professional tests. If successful, länders’ naturalisation rates may increase and converge.

    Since 1999, permanent residents have clear citizenship paths as in many major and reforming immigration countries: first generation by entitlement (someway in 9 others) and second generation by birth (14). Applicants enjoy improving and secure legal procedures, and the more professional ‘citizenship test’ (see box). Some parties support ‘turbo naturalisation’ to shorten residence requirements (currently 7 to 8 years). Even though becoming German can actually speed up integration, applicants are rejected if not already well integrated economically (as in only 11 others) and linguistically (explicitly in 6). To promote naturalisation, 18 countries embrace multiple nationality; Germany accepts it for just EU nationals since 2007. Despite calls for reform, soon roughly 320,000 German-born may need to choose between the two. 

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    Weak equality policies

    Germany has made comparatively few commitments to equality. According to 9 MIPEX countries’ laws, authorities must ensure people know about discrimination and their rights. Several high-scoring European countries (NO, SE, UK) maintain strong State equality duties to encourage candidates and entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds. Recently, länder expressed interest in diversifying public sectors (see earlier). 2007’s ‘Charter of Diversity,’ borrowing French practice, has symbolic goals that are hard to evaluate in practice, since companies make vague commitments (e.g. cultivate corporate culture of respect, reassess recruitment procedures).

    Germany’s laws may be ineffective against discrimination because potential victims do not get the support they need from weak equality bodies and State commitments (see box). The law goes beyond current EU minimum requirements. Racial, ethnic and religious discrimination is prohibited in most areas of life, and nationality discrimination in some. Despite some improvements in 2008, NGOs have both more limited legal roles and actions than in 14 MIPEX countries. The Federal Anti-discrimination Agency also has weaker powers to help victims than in 24. It can make limited investigations of their case, but not its own alternative dispute procedures (12), claims for victims in court (12), or its own proceedings (13).