Germany Implements New Immigration Law to Attract Skilled Foreign Workers
Germany is set to implement a new law in November, making it easier for skilled workers from outside the EU to move there. This law, approved in July, will be rolled out in three stages by June 2024.
It aims to attract foreign talent, combat labor shortages, and increase non-EU workers by 60,000 annually, with a focus on those with non-academic training. Rules for professionals with university degrees will also be relaxed.
Germany's Evolving Immigration Policies: Factors and Implications
Germany, like many European countries, is grappling with a severe shortage of skilled workers. In 2022, the country saw a record-high labor shortage, with 1.74 million job vacancies, according to the Institute for Employment Research (IAB).
this shortage had a significant impact on businesses, with almost half of the companies surveyed by the Munich-based IFO research institute in July reporting that they had to slow down their operations due to staff shortages.
To address this issue, Germany is looking to fill the talent gap with qualified professionals from outside the European Union. However, the current immigration process is hindered by bureaucratic hurdles.
In a press conference at the Federal Office for Foreign Affairs (BfAA) on January 17, 2023, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock expressed the need for a significant overhaul of the visa process. She and Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz highlighted the importance of streamlining the system, reducing bureaucracy, and enhancing digital efficiency.
Scholz emphasized the importance of skilled workers for Germany's future, economy, and social security. While movement within the EU is easier, facilitating immigration from other parts of the world is more challenging. The government aims to improve the efficiency and accessibility of the process to address the shortage of skilled workers.
Attracting Skilled Foreign Workers: Germany's Strategies and Initiatives
Germany is addressing its skilled labor shortage with an 'opportunity card' known as the 'chancenkarte.' This points-based system facilitates easier entry for skilled workers who lack a work contract in Germany.
The criteria for the card include qualifications, professional experience, age, German language proficiency, and ties to Germany, such as family in the country. Quotas will be set based on industry needs, and applicants need to meet at least three out of four criteria:
- A degree or vocational training
- Three years of professional experience
- Language skills or previous stays in Germany
- Age 35 or younger
Most non-EU citizens typically require a job offer to move to Germany, but the 'chancenkarte' aims to streamline the process for job seekers. While some citizens from certain countries can enter Germany visa-free for 90 days, they are limited to short-term employment.
The opportunity card allows individuals to seek employment or apprenticeships in Germany while in the country, rather than applying from abroad, provided they can cover their living expenses. Specific details of the scheme are yet to be finalized, and it's not expected to be available until at least the end of 2023.
Key Updates to Germany's Immigration Policies: Understanding the Main Changes
As per the latest updates, the new changes introduced by Germany includes,
- It prioritizes professional experience over a university degree for those seeking to work in Germany.
- Germany will recognize a wider range of job experiences and professional qualifications that are acknowledged in workers' home countries.
- The opportunity card makes it simpler for individuals without a job offer to explore work opportunities in Germany. Qualified job seekers with degrees or vocational certificates can stay in the country for a year to search for employment and are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week.
- Rules are relaxed for those with job offers and recognized diplomas. Salary thresholds are lowered, family reunification becomes more accessible, and permanent residency is made more attainable.
Staff Shortages in Germany: Critical Industries in Need
Germany has a demand for skilled professionals in various fields, including craftspeople, electrical engineers, IT specialists, carers, nurses, and hospitality professionals.
The service sector, particularly the accommodation and event industries, has been severely affected by labor shortages, as indicated by an IFO survey.
Shortages also impact warehousing, service providers, and manufacturing, particularly in food, machinery, and metal manufacturing. IT specialists with job experience may receive EU Blue Cards, even without a university degree.
Other sought-after roles include physicians, scientists, metallurgy workers, and builders. Shortages are less pronounced in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, as well as the automotive and mechanical engineering sectors.
Don’t Miss This: Germany Granted a Total of 393,083 National Visas in 2022
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1. When will Germany's new law to ease immigration for skilled workers from outside the EU take effect?
The new law will be implemented in three stages starting in November and will be fully enforced by June 2024.
2. What is the primary objective of Germany's new immigration law for skilled workers?
The law aims to attract foreign talent, address labor shortages, and increase the number of non-EU workers by 60,000 per year, with a particular focus on those with non-academic training.
3. Why is Germany looking to reform its immigration system for skilled workers?
Germany is facing a severe shortage of skilled workers, with a record-high labor shortage in 2022, impacting various sectors, and the government is seeking to streamline the immigration process to address this issue.
4. How does Germany's 'opportunity card' or 'chancenkarte' work for skilled workers?
The 'chancenkarte' is a points-based system that eases entry for skilled workers without a job contract in Germany. It considers qualifications, professional experience, age, language skills, and ties to Germany. Quotas are set based on industry needs.
5. What industries in Germany are most affected by labor shortages?
The service sector, especially the accommodation and event industries, is severely impacted by staff shortages. Other affected sectors include warehousing, service providers, manufacturing, and IT specialists.