Current Updates on the Skilled Immigration Act in Germany
The enactment of the "Further Development of Skilled Immigration" law in Germany is a significant step in the field of skilled immigration. The majority of members of the Bundestag (German federal parliament) approved the new draft law on June 23, 2023. The changes brought about by this law are considered by Nancy Faeser, the Federal Minister of the Interior and for Homeland, as the "world's most modern immigration law." She added that the next step should be to "significantly reduce bureaucratic barriers to facilitate the access of qualified and specialized workers to Germany and pave the way for them."
The "Further Development of Skilled Immigration" law in Germany aims to simplify immigration procedures for skilled workers and their professional qualifications. Additionally, it aims to ease immigration conditions for academic qualifications. The law is intended for qualified workers, including university graduates and professionals who have received at least two years of training in their respective fields and come from non-EU countries.
An accompanying implementation regulation for the law is expected to be discussed in the Bundesrat (Federal Council) on July 7, 2023. Some provisions of the law are scheduled to come into effect in November 2023, while others will become legally binding six to nine months after their announcement. This is to provide sufficient time for the relevant government agencies to implement the necessary measures.
The following qualified workers (skilled professionals), both in Germany and abroad, will benefit from this law:
- Qualified workers in Germany will benefit in terms of asylum, residence, and employment in the country.
- Qualified workers from abroad will benefit from immigration and employment opportunities in Germany.
What Are the Reasons for the Labor Shortage in Germany?
It is estimated that the German economy requires approximately 400,000 skilled workers annually. This shortage of labor has various reasons, including:
- A drastic decline in the birth rate in recent years, leading to a smaller number of young people entering the job market.
- The aging of the working-age population and the imminent retirement of workers without replacement by young labor.
- Emigration from Germany, where some qualified and specialized workers migrate to other countries in search of better job opportunities.
All these factors contribute to Germany's urgent need for skilled workers to maintain its current level of prosperity. To address this challenge, the federal government has introduced reforms and improvements in the Skilled Employment Act, which also includes individuals with academic and professional qualifications.
Developments in Skilled Labor Law in Germany
The German government has further developed and eased skilled labor law. These developments include several aspects, some of which are explained below:
Labor Market Participation
Under recent changes, skilled experts must have a recognized degree and an employment contract. The previously required labor market priority examination by the Federal Employment Agency has been abolished, so German or European citizens are no longer automatically preferred for available positions. Instead, the focus is now on ensuring safe working conditions.
Skilled experts, whether they possess an academic degree or a vocational qualification, are allowed to practice their profession in Germany. This means they have the right to work in a profession that matches their professional qualifications. Furthermore, university graduates with professional qualifications can also practice other professions that align with their expertise and generally do not require non-university vocational training unrelated to a university degree.
Employment with Vocational Training
Access for skilled workers with non-academic vocational qualifications in Germany is no longer limited to occupations with a shortage of skilled workers. These employees receive a residence permit that allows them to work in a position matching their skills and obtained through recognized vocational training in Germany. Therefore, they have access to all positions that match their qualifications.
The recent updates in vocational qualifications allow job seekers to come to Germany to search for employment opportunities and obtain a residence visa, provided they meet the following conditions:
- The applicant must be qualified and recognized by the relevant authorities in Germany.
- The applicant must be able to cover the cost of living during the job search.
- The applicant must have at least German language proficiency at the B1 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
In addition, working professionals have the opportunity to engage in trial work for a limited period, with a maximum workload of 10 hours per week. Trial work offers the opportunity to assess compatibility between the employee and the employer in future job roles and includes recognized academic skills.
Requirements for obtaining a one-year work visa include demonstrating financial means through receiving a financial guarantee or opening an account with an official bank.
Stay for Participation in Qualification Courses
For enrollment in professional qualification programs, a stay in Germany is possible provided that the foreign-acquired professional qualification is recognized. To obtain a residence permit for participation in qualification courses, German language skills at least at level A2 and a duration of stay of 18 months, extendable by a maximum of two years, are required. Permission for vocational training, study, or work can also be granted after the expiration of the maximum stay duration.
Residence for Foreign Skilled Workers
Foreign skilled workers can obtain the right to permanent residence in Germany after four years instead of the previous five.
How Can You Benefit from Skilled Labor Law in Germany?
You can benefit from the recent changes in skilled labor law in Germany in several areas:
Firstly: Academic Qualifications
If you possess a university degree recognized in Germany and have an employment contract, you can immigrate to Germany and work there. If, on the other hand, you have a university degree that is not recognized in Germany but hold a specialized professional degree recognized in your home country and have at least two years of professional experience, you can also explore opportunities for immigration and work in Germany.
Secondly: Point System
It is expected that a point system will be implemented, allowing individuals without an employment contract to accumulate points. Skilled workers with a sufficient number of points can then obtain a visa to work in Germany and search for employment opportunities. The following criteria provide a good chance of increasing the likelihood of obtaining a work visa and collecting bonus points:
- Qualifications: Additional points are awarded to individuals with university degrees.
- Language skills: Having language skills, whether through learning the German language or proficiency in English.
- Professional experience: Possessing professional experience and accredited certificates contribute to increasing the score.
- Age: Younger individuals have better chances of accumulating points and thus obtaining a work visa for Germany.
- Relatives in Germany: The presence of family members residing in Germany is considered, as it can help facilitate the arrival and adaptation process and provide support in the initial steps after arriving at the airport and searching for accommodation.