Naturalization of Immigrants: Obstacles and Opportunities in German Municipalities


Theoretical background and objectives

In this project we examine the obstacles and opportunities immigrants may face when seeking naturalization with an empirical focus on German municipalities.

Naturalization can be a deeply personal moment for many migrants, fostering national identification and attachment. There is also evidence that naturalization improves integration outcomes in the political realm. Though non-citizens have access to many of the same rights as do citizens, citizenship continues to signify full membership in a political community. Yet, even though more and more immigrants in Europe are eligible for citizenship, they might not apply because the bureaucratic hurdles can appear daunting, and state authorities may seem inaccessible.

Our project examines the barriers to – and facilitators of – citizenship in German municipalities. In addition to examining administrative and political hurdles, our project considers psychological factors such as how immigrants are perceived by citizens and how decisions that have consequences for immigrants seeking naturalization are making in the realm of local politics. Methodologically, we use a combination of experimental, survey and qualitative methods.