Germany New Immigration Law Aims to Attract Skilled Labor

Germany New Immigration Law: Germany, over the years has established itself as a global leader in technology and various other industries. Germany provides a wide range of opportunities for individuals, students, professionals and business individuals. Anyone can build their careers in this growing, dynamic and forward looking market. Doesn’t matter, if you are an aspiring engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, artist or else, Germany has to offer everyone, an ideal environment to nurture their skills, pursue their career and ambitions. With a robust and strong economy, excellent infrastructure, good facilities and a strong emphasis on education, Germany provides an ideal environment to almost every individual.

But when we look at the current situation, Germany is grappling with a shortage of skilled laborers, and this has been continuing from last some time. According to reports, Germany may encounter a deficit of approximately 2.4 lakh qualified workers by 2026. Which is quite a big number for any growing economy and is a matter of big concern. For many businesses, the quest for skilled labor has become a primary existential concern.

Last year, the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) disclosed that over half of Germany’s companies are struggling to fill job openings due to an inadequate number of skilled workers and labors. As per DIHK’s survey conducted with 22,000 companies, it is revealed that 53% of surveyed businesses reported shortages of skilled labors and workers, which reached the highest level ever recorded.

To tackle this pressing and painful issue, the German parliament have taken a step further and passed a new immigration law on Friday, 23 June 2023, by reforming the Skilled Immigration Act (Law). Interior Minister Nancy Faeser stated that this legislation is crucial for ensuring prosperity in Germany. Faeser emphasized that the dearth of skilled labor poses one of the most significant hindrances to the country’s economic growth, affecting various sectors. She lauded the new law as a monumental step toward securing the future of the nation.

The newly introduced skilled immigration law will count as a key step of Scholz’s government’s bright initiative to ease regulations and provide more support to non-German residents. Its primary objective is to address the shortage of skilled workers by simplifying entry and residence processes for qualified individuals from third countries. The law aims to reduce barriers for foreigners possessing professional qualifications or substantial work experience with a job offer already in hand.

Similar to several other European nations, Germany confronts a shortfall of skilled workers in critical sectors. Consequently, unfilled job vacancies are on the rise, prompting the government to explore pathways for non-EU workers to enter the country more easily.

Through the new Skilled Immigration Act, Germany aims to attract a higher number of skilled labors and workers from overseas, aiming to alleviate shortages. The law introduces several significant changes to achieve this goal.

In this article, We will dig into changes and updates which have introduced in the revamped Germany Immigration Law, “Skilled Immigration Act”.

EU Blue Card Changes

The EU Blue Card is a work and residence permit applicable throughout the European Union, enabling holders to pursue permanent residence and citizenship in an EU nation. Interested applicants must apply for the EU Blue Card through the competent national authorities of their desired work location.

New regulations now, allow workers to qualify for an EU Blue Card, which are highly qualified. Reduced minimum salary of these workers would be EUR 49,581.60 (or EUR 39,682.80 in shortage occupations). This modification opens up eligibility to a wider array of professions, encompassing various occupations, such as –

  • Teachers, Professors and Education Professionals.
  • Manufacturing, product and distribution managers.
  • Professional services managers, such as childcare, elderly care professionals.
  • Healthcare professionals such as dental care, nurses, veterinarians, pharmacists etc.
  • All students and professionals, who have graduated in the last three years.
  • IT, software and tech specialists who have vocational qualifications instead of a traditional university degree.
  • Those who have protected status.

The EU Blue Card is set to incorporate provisions allowing a change of employer with a simple declaration instead of a formal application. Additionally, the new regulations will mandate a minimum employment period of 12 months (reduced from the current requirement of 24 months).

These revised rules will significantly decrease the minimum required employment period for EU Blue Card holders. Previously, applicants were required to work for at least 24 months to maintain their Blue Card status. However, with the proposed amendments, this duration will be reduced to just 12 months (wow, isn’t it!). This change provides a faster pathway for skilled workers to establish a stable professional presence in their chosen EU country.

New Education and Qualification rules changes

This new “Skilled Immigration Law”, will also provide relaxation around already existing Education and Qualification requirement and rules. Following are the notable changes

  • Now, workers especially highly skilled are not required to possess a degree directly relevant to their job. Individuals with vocational training in any field will have the opportunity to work in a qualified field of their choice.
  • If any skilled foreign workers, earning above a salary threshold and have at least two years of professional experience. He or she will no longer be required to undergo qualifications and experience recognition in Germany. Those will be eligible, if they already are recognized in their home country. It gives a big boost to their qualification and to their confidence.
  • In some cases, where qualifications need to be recognized in Germany! In such cases, foreign workers with a job offer can commence work in Germany while the recognition process is underway.
  • Industries facing severe labor shortages will allow workers to enter Germany and work for up to 8 months, regardless of their qualifications, as per a collective bargaining agreement.

The recent legal changes have brought significant advantages for skilled immigrants. Now, these individuals no longer need to go through the degree recognition process in Germany if they can demonstrate a minimum of two years of professional experience and possess a degree recognized in their country of origin.

Moreover, for those with a confirmed job offer, it is now possible to arrive in Germany and begin work while the degree recognition procedure is still in progress. These alterations aim to create and enhance work and job opportunities for highly skilled professionals and streamline the migration process, making Germany an even more appealing destination for foreign talent.

Introduction of new ‘Opportunity Card’

A new ‘opportunity card’ called the “Chancenkarte” will be introduced as part of the upcoming law, which will utilize a points system. This card is particularly beneficial for individuals with foreign vocational training of a minimum of two years or those possessing a university degree along with basic German language skills.

The Chancenkarte aims to enable people to seek employment in Germany without having a pre-existing job offer. With this opportunity card, foreigners or international workers can come to Germany for one year to explore and secure any skilled labor job. A similar kind of system is already implemented in Canada.

The selection criteria for the Chancenkarte encompass various factors such as language proficiency, work experience, age, and proof of connections to Germany, such as family ties or a history of residency. So applicants has to accumulate more points based on these criteria, which their chances of being allowed to enter Germany as job seekers increase.

Moreover, those holding the Chancenkarte can engage and work in part-time employment (up to 20 hours per week), while actively searching for a suitable skilled job side by side.

However, Migration Researcher Brücker highlights potential challenges for skilled workers in assessing risks under this model, which are obvious with any new change. In some scenarios, it could mean that an individual might have to leave Germany after a year, even if they have found a job, but fail to meet other criteria associated with the program. Well by the time hopefully, we will get more clarity.

More Focus on Educational Migration

The German government coalition aims to increase education-based migration, which allows enabling individuals to come to Germany for vocational training or academic studies with the prospect of permanent residency and pursue their career.

To support this objective, foreign students will have the opportunity to work in Germany as student trainees, allowing them to sustain themselves financially while pursuing their qualifications.

Moreover, obtaining residence for the purpose of seeking a training position will be made significantly more accessible by raising the maximum age limit for issuing a residence permit.

The maximum duration of a residence title will be extended to nine months, providing individuals with an extended time frame to pursue their education and training, and employment and trial employment will also be permitted for eligible candidates.

More relevant updates and changes

Along with above changes, some more relevant changes are introduced. These are –

Students will now have more opportunities, to engage in secondary employment while pursuing their studies.

• Asylum seekers who have submitted applications by 29 March 2023 and possess relevant qualifications along with a job offer will be permitted to seek work or undergo vocational training while their asylum application is being processed.

• No tourist visa holders, will be required to leave Germany before returning to work in the country.

• The quota for nationals from Western Balkans countries is set to be doubled. Now, individuals up to 50,000 will be allowed from countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia to migrate to Germany per year.

• As per new law, parents of specialist foreign workers will be eligible for a residence permit for family reunification. Also the in-laws of the foreign workers would be allowed, if their spouses are permanent resident in Germany.

• Previously, according to the “German Residence Act” entry into Germany always required a visa with a specific purpose. Which many times lead to situations, where individuals with tourist visas if received a job offer had to leave the country and apply for a new, specific purpose visa. However, with the new changes, such procedures will no longer be necessary in Germany. It will allow visas to be adjusted accordingly during a stay in Germany.

Conclusion:

It is good to understand that, it might take some time for administrative offices across Germany to be fully equipped with the necessary procedures and resources to implement these changes effectively. But it will definitely ease and help, foreign and international skilled workers, labors, students and professionals to pursue their dream of establishing career in Germany.

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