On 1 March 2020, a new Skilled Immigration Act (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz) will come into force in Germany. This law, like no other, has contributed to migration intentions in Eastern Europe, including countries such as Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. However, a careful study of the changes introduced by the new law reveals that not all dreams of easy immigration and getting employment in Germany will come true.
Who will find it easier to immigrate and find employment in Germany? What are the requirements set forth in the new law on immigration of skilled workers? These are just the questions we set out to answer.
Germany is facing a skilled labor gap. According to the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, 61% of German employers are experiencing a shortage of skilled workforce today. Moreover, the country’s working-age (20 to 65) population is expected to decline by 3.9 million before 2030 and by 10.2 million before 2060 1 https://www.bmwi.de/Redaktion/EN/Dossier/skilled-professionals.html.
The list of skills that Germany needs includes, among others, locomotive drivers and maintenance workers, plumbers, electricians, engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, heating and air conditioning specialists, nurses and caregivers for the elderly, physicians, orthopedists, pharmacists.
The new law is expected to provide a clear and transparent answer to the question of who can and cannot enter Germany for employment or education purposes. The law of 2020 aims to make the German labor market more attractive, to reduce bureaucratic barriers to hiring skilled labor from abroad, to simplify the recognition of foreign degrees/qualifications and to boost interest in studying the German language.
The new law applies only to skilled foreign workers with vocational, non-academic training from non-EU countries. The current regulation for qualified professionals with university degrees remains in place.
A skilled foreign worker with vocational, non-academic training from non-EU countries is defined as someone holding a degree which is equivalent or higher than the bachelor’s degree in Germany or his/her country of origin or who has at least secondary vocational education and non-academic training and work experience comparable to those required of workers of this level in Germany 2§ 2 subpara. 12 a, b „AufenthG“, new version. Also: Coalition Agreement of 12 March 2018, p. 105.
The Law of 2020 does not facilitate access to the German labor market for:
a) skilled foreign workers who already live and work in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland or Liechtenstein;
b) skilled foreign workers who entered Germany as refugees or unauthorized immigrants before August 2018;
c) unskilled workers.
With the entry into force of the new law on 1 March 2020, the existing rules for third-country nationals entering Germany for work or study will be further improved and clarified rather than radically changed. As before, Germany is not interested in receiving:
a) new immigrants without job experience, skills or qualifications;
b) immigrants without a reasonably high likelihood of finding a job in Germany that fits their training in the country of origin or without a current employment contract with a German employer;
c) immigrants who are not sufficiently fluent in the German language.
Yes, in some respects. The Law of 2020 sets language proficiency requirements for skilled foreign workers at the B1/B2 level. Skilled foreign workers over 45 years old required to show that they will earn a certain amount of money (at least EUR 3,685 per month at the moment, which will be updated annually) or that they have adequate pension savings.
Yes. The main rule established by the new law is that a foreign worker whose specific skills, training and qualifications are required in Germany should be allowed to immigrate and get a job.
There is no longer a requirement to demonstrate that a foreign worker’s skills are in short supply and no local candidate is available for this type of employment. Starting in March 2020, the German authorities will not need to check whether a foreign worker’s skills, training or qualifications are on the list of occupations considered to be in short supply in Germany.
Recognition of foreign degrees or qualifications, training or work experience will be simplified and can follow a fast-track procedure upon a potential employer’s request. 3§ 14a Berufsqualifikationsfeststellungsgesetz i.V.m. § 81a AufenthG
The new law also foresees a procedure of a worker-employer agreement which determines the equivalence of vocational, non-academic qualification obtained abroad taking into account other proven professional qualifications. 4§ 2 Berufsqualifikationsfeststellungsgesetz This means that a foreigner who has been offered a job in Germany and has confirmed “partial equivalence” of his/her qualifications, skills, work experience or training received abroad will be granted a residence permit in Germany to take up the job offered and to have his/her qualifications, training or skills fully recognized with support from the German employer. 5§ 16d AufenthG (Maßnahmen zur Anerkennung ausländischer Berufsqualifikationen)
The Law of 2020 abolishes citizenship priority, meaning that the German authorities will no longer be required to make sure that there are no German/EU citizens available to take up the vacancy concerned. Once the law comes into effect, any qualified foreigner meeting all other conditions can be hired in Germany.
Yes, ICT specialists can bypass the formal procedure of degree/training/ qualification recognition if they can confirm at least three years of prior employment in the ICT industry and have a job offer from a German employer with a salary of at least EUR 4.200 per month (the amount to be updated annually).
|↑2||§ 2 subpara. 12 a, b „AufenthG“, new version. Also: Coalition Agreement of 12 March 2018, p. 105|
|↑3||§ 14a Berufsqualifikationsfeststellungsgesetz i.V.m. § 81a AufenthG|
|↑4||§ 2 Berufsqualifikationsfeststellungsgesetz|
|↑5||§ 16d AufenthG (Maßnahmen zur Anerkennung ausländischer Berufsqualifikationen)|