The legal changes in the immigration of third-country nationals to the Federal Republic of Germany have been significantly expanded since March 1, 2020, under the new German law on skilled worker immigration. The Skilled Workers Immigration Act makes it easier for skilled workers with vocational, non-academic training to immigrate to Germany for work purposes. Existing regulations for skilled workers with a university degree will be continued and in some cases made even easier. Since the Act is an article law and thus supplements many different laws, it can quickly become confusing which changes are important in the overall view.
In the following we would like to compile some of the most important changes and define terms.
What will change with the Skilled Employee Immigration Act?
The Skilled Workers Immigration Act extends the framework for the immigration of qualified skilled workers from countries outside the EU to Germany. Here you will find the main changes:
Definition of skilled worker: Skilled workers are defined as persons with a university degree or qualified vocational training with a duration of at least two years. A prerequisite for both groups is that their foreign qualifications have been recognised by the competent authority in Germany.
Entry into the labour market: Entry into the labour market is facilitated: The qualified skilled worker must have an employment contract or a concrete job offer and a qualification recognised in Germany. The so-called priority check by the Federal Employment Agency (BA) is no longer required. This means that it is no longer necessary to check whether an applicant from Germany or the EU is available for the specific job. The examination of working conditions by the BA will continue.
Employment opportunities: A skilled worker can be employed in an occupation to which the acquired qualification qualifies him/her. This means that employment in related professions is made possible. In addition, professionals with an academic education can not only work in jobs that require a university degree. They can also be employed in other qualified occupations that are in a technical context to the qualification and for which, in principle, vocational, non-academic training is required. Assistant and semi-skilled occupations are excluded here; in any case, the employment must be a qualified occupation. For the EU Blue Card, employment appropriate to the professional qualification is always required, which usually presupposes an academic degree.
Skilled workers with vocational training: The employment of skilled workers with vocational, i.e. non-academic training is no longer limited to bottleneck professions. With vocational training recognized in Germany, the residence permit for qualified employment also allows these skilled workers access to all occupations for which their qualifications qualify them.
Entry to find a job: Skilled workers with qualified vocational training are also allowed to enter the country to find a job. They receive a residence permit for up to six months. The prerequisites are that the foreign qualification has been recognised by the competent authority in Germany, that the livelihood for the stay is secured and that they have the appropriate German language skills for the intended job. As a rule, a minimum knowledge of German at level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages is required. During the stay to find a job, a trial employment of up to ten hours per week is possible. This allows employers and foreign professionals to test whether they are a good match. The trial employment is also made possible for professionals with recognised academic qualifications, who may also enter the country for up to six months to look for work, as before.
Stay for qualification measures: The opportunities for residence in Germany for qualification measures will be expanded. The prerequisite for this is, in principle, that a recognition procedure from abroad has been conducted at the competent office in Germany in which deficits in the foreign qualification acquired compared to German training have been identified (notice of recognition). A further prerequisite for the issue of a visa to conduct qualification measures is, among other things, a knowledge of German corresponding to the qualification measure. As a rule, this is at least an adequate knowledge of German (corresponds to language level A2). The 18-month residence permit can now, for example, be extended for this purpose by six months to a maximum period of two years.
After expiry of the maximum period of the residence permit, a residence permit may be issued for the purpose of education, study or employment.
Settlement permit for skilled workers from abroad: Foreign skilled workers can obtain a settlement permit in Germany after only four years (previously five years).
Trainees and Students:
Entry to find a training place: It has already been possible for prospective students to enter the country to look for a training place. According to the new regulation, prospective trainees can also enter the country to look for a training place. The prerequisites for this are a knowledge of German at level B2, a degree from a German school abroad or a school leaving certificate entitling the holder to enter university, a maximum age of 25 years and independent living.
German language course in preparation for the training: With a residence permit for a qualified vocational training course, a German language course or a job-related German language course may be attended as preparation for the training.
Extended exchange possibilities for international students in Germany: International students have the opportunity to change to other residence permits even before they have completed their studies. For example, instead of continuing their studies, they can start vocational training and receive a residence permit for vocational training. The Immigration of Skilled Workers Act extends these possibilities for changing over: Under special conditions and after examination by the BA, a job offer as a skilled worker can be accepted already during a study stay or a stay for vocational training or further education. This is accompanied by a change to a residence permit for the purpose of qualified employment.
Settlement permit for graduates of vocational training in Germany: Under the new law, foreign graduates of vocational training in Germany, as well as university graduates, can obtain a settlement permit after only two years.
What do I have to do in order to be able to work as a skilled worker in Germany?
Recognition of foreign qualifications: It is important that you first have your foreign qualifications recognised. We will provide you with basic information on the recognition procedure and on immigration to Germany by e-mail on request without obligation.
Language skills: Language skills are required in particular for entry in search of a training place or a job as a skilled worker with vocational training, but also for the stay for qualification measures.
Contact person for visa / residence: If you are still in your home country, the German missions abroad are responsible for issuing the necessary visa. If you are already living in Germany, the local immigration authorities are responsible.
In addition, the new so-called accelerated procedure will be introduced, which will enable professionals who have an employment contract to complete the procedure quickly. Each federal state handles the process differently. Some federal states, such as Hamburg, have even set up a Hamburg Welcome Center for Professionals to enable the skilled worker to enter the country quickly. Nevertheless, the process can become confusing due to the novelty of the law and the many requirements that must still be met and should therefore be checked in advance. However, the law alone does not make it easy for a foreign specialist to go through the entire process without competent assistance. For in addition to the law, there are many uncertainties as to which office or authority to contact and how to find the desired job in Germany the quickest. Even the choice of employer and communication with it can be a great challenge for a foreign specialist. Added to this is the difficult situation imposed on us by the Corona Pandemic.
In order to be able to go through this process successfully, efficiently and as quickly as possible, you need experienced specialists who can guide the customer safely through these processes and procedures and who already know the quickest routes. Thanks to our decades of experience, we are your ideal partner. With our range of services, we guide you through all the authorities and companies during the entire process until you reach your destination. With our specially developed procedure model we offer a fast and efficient possibility for skilled workers to immigrate to Germany and to break new ground professionally.
We are happy to offer you a free and non-binding initial assessment of your career opportunities in Germany. You can either send us an email or use the contact form on our website. We would be pleased to hear from you.
Your contact persons Pouya Fakhari and Hartmut Müller
The Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) welcomed the plans: "Without sufficient immigration from abroad, we will not be able to solve the problem of skilled workers," emphasized the DIHK when presenting a catalog of proposals for reforming the FEG. The federal government is planning to amend the Skilled Immigration Act ( FEG), which has been in force since March 1, 2020. The aim is to facilitate the influx of qualified specialists from third countries, also in accordance with the needs of the economy. "A bottleneck, but one of the main problems of the law is its implementation," complains the deputy director of the DIHK, Achim Dercks. The practical work in the authorities and the complexity of the regulations overwhelm companies, potential immigrants and often apparently also the authorities themselves. In addition, there are sometimes very long waiting times for visa appointments.
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