Germany introduces new immigration legislation

Germany introduced new immigration legislation at the start of this month designed to make it easier for non-EU skilled workers to move to the country.

One of the main changes sees a change to the way skilled workers are now defined. Whereas previously, someone classed as a ‘skilled worker’ was restricted to a person with a university or college degree, the term now also applies to someone who has acquired a vocational training certificate. The training program must be at least two years in length, and the resulting qualification needs to be recognised as being equal or similar to a German qualification.

Applicants from outside the European Union are generally allowed to work in Germany if they have a work contract with a firm based in Germany and the relevant professional qualification for the job. The new law has stripped away a previous rule that people from outside the EU can only take a job if there is no German or EU citizen who is able to do it instead.

In sectors with an acute shortage of skilled professionals, the bar for emigrating to Germany has been lowered. Medical doctors, IT specialists or registered certified nurses, for example, don’t need to have their qualifications recognised by German authorities so long as they can prove a minimum of five years of on-the-job experience.

One pre-requisite of being offered a job in any sector, though, is that the applicant is able to speak German at a good level. They should also be able to prove that they can support themselves financially for the duration of their stay. For example, foreign skilled workers who are older than 45 have to prove they earn a minimum of €3,685 per month in their German job, or possess adequate old-age retirement funds.

All those who are offered a work contract or a specific job offer are granted residency status for four years, or the duration of their contract. After four years, they can apply for a permanent residence status.

Article published 9th March 2020