Introduction of the Skilled Immigration Act

Germany facilitates immigration for skilled workers from abroad with the introduction of the Skilled Immigration Act, effective March 1, 2020

The shortage of skilled workers is becoming an increasing problem in Germany and a business risk for many companies. The Federal Government therefore now wants to attract qualified employees from non-EU countries to Germany. On March 1, 2020, a new law will enter into force to facilitate immigration for those skilled workers. With the "Skilled Immigration Act", the German Federal Government is creating the framework for future-oriented and needs-based immigration of skilled workers from abroad.

The aim of the new act is to make it easier for the qualified professionals Germany urgently needs in view of the already existing large shortage of staff and empty candidate markets, to come into the country. Qualified professionals are defined as people with a tertiary education degree or a vocational training qualification of at least two years. The foreign qualification has to first be officially recognized by the relevant authority in Germany.

What are the main innovations of the skilled immigration act?

  1. The entry into the labor market will be made easier: the qualified professional must either be able to show an employment contract or a specific job offer. The so-called priority check by the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit - BA) is not applicable any longer. This means that it is no longer necessary to check whether an applicant from Germany or the EU is available for the same job.

  2. Qualified professionals can pursue any occupation that their qualification enables them to do. This means that employment in related professions is made possible. The EU Blue Card is only ever issued as a residence permit for academics from outside the EU who start work in an EU member state which requires a university degree and an employment contract with a certain minimum gross salary.

  3. The employment of specialists with professional, i.e. non-academic education, is no longer limited to occupations listed on the so-called whitelist (a list of shortage occupations for which there are not enough skilled workers in Germany). With vocational training recognized in Germany, the residence permit allows qualified professionals to gain access to all professions for which they qualify.

  4. Specialists with qualified vocational training will be enabled to enter the country for their job search by being granted a residence permit for up to six months. The prerequisite is that the foreign qualification has been recognized by the responsible body in Germany, the costs of living are covered for the duration of the stay and the relevant German language skills are available (generally German language skills at level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages are required). During the duration of the six moths residence permit, employment of up to ten hours a week will be possible. Professionals with a recognised academic qualification, who as before are permitted to come to Germany for six months to seek employment, are also allowed to work on a trial basis.

  5. Qualified professionals from abroad can obtain a settlement permit in Germany after just four years (previously five years).

 

What is new for the German companies looking for professionals?

Employers can initiate an accelerated procedure at the competent immigration office in Germany if they are given a power of attorney from the professional they intend to employ. This will significantly shorten the duration of the administrative procedure before the visa is issued. The following information and steps are important:

  1. The company and the immigration office must conclude an agreement, including authorizations and obligations of the employer, the employee and the authorities involved (immigration office, Federal Employment Agency, recognition agencies, German representation) and a description of the employment procedures.

  2. The Immigration Office advises the employer, supports him in carrying out the procedure for the recognition of the foreign qualification of the employee, obtains the approval of the Federal Employment Agency and checks the requirements for granting immigration. The recognition agencies and the Federal Employment Agency must make a decision within certain deadlines.

  3. If all requirements are met, the immigration office issues a so-called pre-approval, which they send to the employer to be passed on to the future employee. The qualified professional then books an appointment with the German mission abroad to apply for the visa. That appointment will take place within three weeks. The original of the pre-approval along with further documents necessary for the visa application must be submitted at that occasion.

  4. After the complete visa application has been submitted by the employee, it is usually decided on within a further three weeks.

  5. The accelerated procedure also includes the spouse and minor, unmarried children of the professionals if their visa application is submitted at the same time and if the family members meet the legal requirements for the subsequent immigration of family members.

 

For more information, check out the website of the Federal German Government here: https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/en/visa/kinds-of-visa/work/skilled-immigration-act/


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