Germany has introduced its new Skilled Immigration Act which will make it easier for non-EU workers to live and work in the country.
The new law, which took effect from 1 March 2020, primarily applies to qualified professionals, including people who have completed a university degree or have some form of vocational training (electricians, plumbers etc.).
The training program must be at least two years in length, and the resulting degree needs to be recognised as equal or similar to a German degree. Before applying for a visa, you must also have received an offer for skilled employment in Germany.
You can check whether your qualification is recognised in Germany through a special portal set-up the German Labour Ministry here.
Germany has notoriously been difficult to emigrate to or non-EU citizens, and for decades the country’s political leaders have insisted the country wasn’t pursuing active immigration policies, reports state broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
However, this has changed in recent years due to the fact that Germany is lacking more than a million skilled labourers to keep its economy going.
In principle, applicants from outside the EU were 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 the key regulation: 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.
“Germany is now open to anyone who has completed vocational training – regardless of whether that profession is in demand,” the German Labour Ministry said.
“Now all qualified professionals with a suitable occupation can be employed in Germany.”
Skills in demand
The bar has also been lowered for skilled immigrants who are looking to take up jobs where there is an acute shortage of skilled professionals, DW reports.
Medical doctors, IT specialists or registered certified nurses, for example, don’t need to have their qualifications recognised by German authorities as long as they can prove a minimum of five years of on-the-job experience.
However, employers are obliged to take on financial responsibility for up to one year, including repatriation costs, for an employee whose contract has expired and who refuses to leave Germany voluntarily.
Deutsche Welle reports that all those with a work contract or a specific job offer are granted residency status for four years, or the duration of their contract.
After four years, migrants can then apply for a permanent residence status.
If you’re looking for a job, you are also allowed entry into Germany — on the condition that you can prove you’re able to support yourself and that you speak sufficient German (B2 level).
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.
Workers are also allowed to bring their spouses and minor children to Germany. But they must prove to be able to support their family members financially and must provide them with sufficient living space.