Update from June 2022:
Data on the stateless population in Germany is available in the GENESIS-Online Datenbank. As of 31 December 2021, the statistics list 27,940 stateless people (16,080 male and 411,860 female) in Germany. However, there are other potentially overlapping categories including 94,945 people listed as having 'unclear' (ungeklärt) nationality.
There were no major reforms enacted relating to statelessness in 2021, but the new coalition Government made a number of positive pledges for reform that could benefit some stateless people living in Germany. The Coalition Agreement pledged to reform the ‘Duldung’ system, introduce a new method of clarifying a person’s identity through sworn affidavit, and simplify naturalisation procedures. In July 2022, the Government passed a draft bill to provide a right to stay for those with ‘Duldung’ status (‘tolerated stay’) who have lived in the country for more than five years. This then entitles them to apply for longer-term residence permits, and eventually, a route to settlement. As Germany does not have a Statelessness Determination Procedure, many stateless people find themselves in limbo living with ‘tolerated stay’ status for long periods of time, so this change could benefit them.
New resources on Germany now available include:
The legal and policy framework on statelessness in Germany has both positive and negative aspects. Germany is State Party to relevant human rights instruments but retains two key reservations to the 1954 Convention concerning travel documents and social security entitlements. Comprehensive population data is published online, including on statelessness, but without a dedicated procedure to identify and determine statelessness, estimates for the stateless population remain inaccurate. There are other administrative procedures through which statelessness can be identified and some case law on the determination of nationality status; however, without a dedicated mechanism in place, stateless people are not granted a protection status nor rights, unless also recognised as refugees.
The law establishes that a country of removal must be set prior to detaining, and procedural safeguards are in place to protect against arbitrary detention. However, Germany has entered into readmission agreements that enable stateless people to be removed to countries of former residence, without guarantees of protection. German nationality law has provisions to prevent statelessness in some cases, but there is a legal residence requirement for children born stateless in Germany to acquire nationality, and problematic birth registration practices lead to inconsistencies in recording key data and access to birth certificates. Provisions on deprivation of nationality may result in statelessness in some cases.
Information below by theme was last updated in March 2021.
Denis Neselovsky, Individual ENS member