Germany is introducing new avenues for skilled worker immigration from third countries. The updated Skilled Immigration Act expands opportunities for individuals seeking entry to Germany for the purpose of work and / or for the purpose of having their foreign professional qualifications recognised.
These new regulations will be phased in starting from November 2023.
Starting in November 2023
Skilled workers with Bachelor level qualifications will see expanded opportunities for immigration to Germany through the EU Blue Card program.
The minimum salary threshold will be significantly lowered, and the group of professions eligible for an even further reduction will expand. This includes additional professions considered to be shortage occupations (including certain managerial positions and teachers), as well as a generally lower threshold for academics who have graduated in the last 3 years (young professionals / career starters).
IT specialists can also obtain an EU Blue Card without formal qualifications if they possess relevant professional experience of at least 3 year and meet the (reduced) salary level for an EU Blue Card.
Family reunification will be made more accessible for EU Blue Card holders, for families that have already been residing together in another EU State based on the main applicant being an EU Blue Card holder.
For the Qualified Professional permit, a significant change will be the removal of requiring a link between the area of qualification and the job offer they have received for Germany. This includes both qualified professionals with a university qualification and those with a vocational training qualification. If the profession is not regulated, Skilled workers with completed professional qualifications or higher education degrees can engage in any qualified employment.
The employment of HGV drivers will also be simplified.
Starting in March 2024
Individuals participating in additional training or compensation measures in Germany will be allowed to enter the country for this purpose and stay for up to three years, compared to the previous 1.5 years During this period, they will be permitted to engage in secondary employment for up to 20 hours per week, rather than the previous 10 hours, with the intention of gaining easier access into the job market.
The new option of a recognition partnership allows individuals to enter Germany and complete the entire recognition procedure within the country through an undertaking of the professional and their prospective employer to actively complete the recognition procedure. For this process, German language skills at level A2 will be required.
If the competent authority suggests a skills analysis, the prospective skilled worker can enter Germany for this purpose and stay for up to six months. This usually also required proof of German language skills at level A2.
A further change will be that individuals with extensive professional experience can enter Germany for employment in all non-regulated professions in the future.
The requirements include a recognised professional or higher education qualification from their home country and at least two years of experience in the intended profession.
The employment of IT specialists without a formal qualification will be made easier, by reducing the duration of required professional experience from 3 years to 2 years. Whilst previously, an applicant would need to prove that their position will not require German language skills at level B1, with the new changes, there will be no requirement to show any proof of German language skills.
Other changes encompass access to the labour market for care assistants, the settlement permit for foreign skilled workers, streamlined family reunification processes, and employment opportunities for students and trainees. Further, for skilled workers that receive their residence permits for Germany after 1 March 2024; for the first time, parents and parents-in-law will be able to join them in Germany based on family reunification.
Starting in June 2024
Individuals will have the opportunity to enter Germany using the new “Opportunity Card” for job searching. The card will be issued for 1 year, rather than the current 6-month job seeker visa and offers more flexibility in its qualifying criteria.
Professional recognition may be a factor, as skilled workers with full recognition will receive the opportunity card without further requirements; yet other must demonstrate a professional or higher education qualification from their home country as well as German language skills at level A1 or English language skills at level B2.
A points system will assign further points based on professional qualifications, language skills, professional experience, connections to Germany, age, and the profile of an accompanying spouse, to secure further points, to reach the required minimum of 6 points.
With the Opportunity Card, the holder will be permitted to take up part time employment of up to 20 hours a week in Germany whilst seeking employment.
The comprehensive reforms being introduced represent a significant step forward in shaping Germany’s approach to skilled immigration from third countries.
These changes not only streamline the immigration process but also foster greater inclusivity and opportunity for skilled workers seeking to contribute to the German workforce.
Written by Simon Carletti, PR and Creative Supervisor