Skilled Workers' Immigration Act: The New German Immigration Law Employers Need to Know

German-based companies across a wide range of industries attract workers of all skill levels, particularly those in highly-skilled professions. To make it easier for qualified professionals to relocate and work in Germany’s science, tech, math, computing, and healthcare fields, the government announced last fall.

The new act amends existing laws and regulations, including Germany’s Residence Act and its Employment Regulation. The government’s goal is to simplify the immigration process for qualified workers and potential employers, accelerate application times, and inject German organizations with skilled talent to fill industry gaps. Applicants must familiarize themselves with application requirements before applying, and employers need to ensure they remain aligned with obligations.

What the New German Immigration Law Means for Applicants 

The Skilled Workers’ Immigration Act goes into effect March 1, 2020, and extends to qualified professionals with vocational, non-academic training and skillsets from non-EU countries. Unlike previous laws, these professionals can relocate to Germany to search for work before receiving a job offer.

The new law updates the classification of a qualified professional. Beginning March 1, 2020, Germany will see qualified professionals as those with a tertiary education degree or vocational training qualification, which follows a minimum two-year training course. All applicants must have their university or vocational degree recognized by relevant German authorities before beginning work.

With relevant qualifications and employment offer, job seekers bypass previous Federal Employment Agency priority checks, fast-tracking their application. This update means there is no check as to whether or not the applicant is from Germany, the EU, or outside the EU. However, the Federal Employment Agency remains responsible for verifying employment conditions.

Qualified applicants with university degrees can work in fields related to their degree, but employment is not contingent upon a degree. This exemption also extends to university degree holders who want to work in a related role that requires a vocational, non-academic degree. Those with vocational qualifications and no academic degree are no longer limited to roles experiencing skills shortages.

Job seekers can move to Germany while looking for a job, and the government grants them a residence permit covering up to six months. However, applicants must have their qualifications recognized by German authorities and show that they have sufficient funds to support themselves while they search for work in Germany. They must also exhibit German language skills meeting the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, at minimum, the B1 level. Their language skills help their potential employers know they are qualified for the job when employing them on a trial basis of up to ten hours per week. After four years, qualified professionals are eligible for permanent settlement, updated from the previous five-year requirement. 

What the New German Immigration Law Means for Employers

The act updates existing regulations and introduces new measures to help employers find and employ qualified talent to grow their businesses. Employers and applicants alike benefit from an expedited application and decision-making process. The new law enables employers to initiate an accelerated process for identified professionals, drastically reducing the timeline for visa issuance.

To do so, they must visit a relevant foreigners’ registration office and need a power of attorney for the applicant. The foreigners’ registration office advises and supports the employer through the process; it obtains the Federal Employment Agency’s approval and confirms all contents align with legislation for employing foreign workers. 

There must be an agreement between the employer and the registration office that outlines obligations for the powers of attorney and employer, applicant, relevant authorities, and procedure description that includes all parties and deadlines.

If approved, the registration office issues advanced approval to the employer and on to the applicant. From there, the applicant must apply for the visa within three weeks. Applicants must present original advanced approval documentation (official forms stating their eligibility to proceed with next steps) with any other necessary documents. The applicant receives a decision three weeks after they submit the documentation paperwork.

The process covers the applicant’s family as well, including spouse and minor, unmarried children only if they submit applications simultaneously and meet all requirements. The expedited process costs employers €411 per applicant, and a €75 fee for visas and qualification recognition.

Find and Employ Top Global Talent for Your German Office

The new German Immigration law helps both employers and qualified professionals fill gaps in Germany’s highly skilled sectors. But to apply, applicants must ensure they follow all necessary steps, and employers ensure they have the resources to expedite applications.

Want to learn more about how the Skilled Workers’ Immigration Act helps your firm find, attract, and employ the brightest talent across the globe? Reach out to Velocity Global today to learn how our immigration experts can help you navigate the new act.

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