On June 23, 2023, the German parliament approved a new immigration law aimed at attracting skilled workers. This move comes as a result of the ongoing labor shortages for skilled workers across the country. The new law will make access to the German labor market easier for third-country nationals by facilitating the immigration process while it remains focused on three pillars for employment-based migration: 1) skilled labor; 2) experience; and 3) potential.
New Regulations for EU Blue Card
Under the skilled labor pillar, this new law will lower eligibility criteria for Blue Card work visas. Salary thresholds for the Blue Card will be reduced and the “small Blue Card” will see an expansion to more eligible professionals including manufacturing and distribution managers, professional services managers (such as childcare professionals), teaching professionals, and various health-related professionals (nurses, veterinarians, dentists, pharmacists, etc.).
The Blue Card will now confer additional rights to its holders, including the following:
- Changing employers will only require a declaration, and the Blue Card holder will not have to apply for a change before taking on a new job.
- The applicant will only be bound to an employer for 12 months, and not 24 months (as under the current policy).
- Intra-European mobility will be made easier for European Blue Card holders – more details forthcoming.
Expanded Opportunities for Other Skilled Migrants
Currently, obtaining a Highly Skilled Work permit in Germany requires a connection between the job and the qualifications obtained during a course of study that would qualify an individual for the employment opportunity. This will no longer be a requirement, offering much greater flexibility for obtaining a residence permit for any qualified employment.
The “Chancenkart” Opportunity Card
The law will provide eligible applicants with an Opportunity Card or “Chancenkarte” allowing them to search for a job in the country for at least 12 months. The law will permit qualified nationals to look for work in Germany if they score at least 6 points from a list of eligible criteria that includes language skills, work experience, age, and connection to Germany. Minimum eligibility will require two years of foreign vocational training or a university degree.
Making Study in Germany More Appealing
The government seeks to make studying in Germany more appealing to bring in more foreign students with potential to become post-graduation skilled specialists in Germany. Parts of this new strategy include permitting employment during their studies, expanding employment opportunities for individuals on permits where it was not previously allowed, and making the recognition procedure for foreign qualifications more efficient and less demanding.
Many countries are seeing aging populations and insufficient numbers of young professionals entering the workforce. The new law hopes to combat this ongoing struggle to replace the aging workforce with a new category of skilled workers.
For more information on this Alert, please reach out to the T&S EMEA team at EMEA@tandslaw.com.