Germany’s new immigration law: what is it and what does it mean for non-EU expats?

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Published 2019-05-16 13:16

If you are a skilled worker residing outside the EU, you will now have it easier to move to Germany and work there. A new agreement on the immigration issue achieved last week aims to attract more professional workforce into the country. What are the specifics of the new law and how does it affect your chances of being employed in Germany?

What is the essence of Germany’s new immigration law?

To put things very simply, the new immigration law makes it easier for German companies to bring qualified professionals from abroad. The two main changes to the current system include:

  • Employers, when hiring workforce from outside of the country or outside of the EU, will no longer have to go through a mandatory inspection, the aim of which is to determine whether the available positions can not be filled locally. The new immigration strategy strives to counter the country’s growing workforce deficit — 1.2 million positions remain unfilled in Germany, as reported by the Federal Labour Office. Additionally, employers will not be restricted in their search for employees to the list of jobs that are in short supply.

  • Another notable change is that those with vocational training will also be able to benefit from the reform, whereas up until now the immigration system primarily favoured those with a strong academic background. This opens up even more working opportunities for non-EU citizens in Germany and aims to fill a wider range of positions. The new law also lets people with vocational training to come to Germany and look for work opportunities on the spot (under certain conditions).

How will the new law work in practice?

After the new immigration laws come into force, immigrants with academic as well as vocational qualifications who are able to support themselves financially will be able to come to Germany for job hunting for a period of up to six months. In areas where workforce shortage is especially pronounced (like IT, engineering, etc.), a proof of qualifications may not be necessary. However, in order to obtain a work permit later on, the applicant will have to demonstrate a sufficient knowledge of the German language. When it comes to paperwork and other administrative formalities, job hunters will be able to seek help from specialized agencies and institutions that will guide them through the legal procedures.

With that, once a potential applicant has secured a job offer, comprehensive checks will be performed so as to determine whether this job offer is valid and not fake or exploitative.

What is the criticism of the new law?

The criticism of the new immigration strategy generally falls into two categories. Some think that the law will be difficult to implement as it will put lots of additional pressure on the country’s governmental agencies. Others believe that the new policy may be a stronger incentive for illegal immigration and will become a burden on the country’s already overloaded social welfare system.

The country’s new immigration law is expected to come into force in early 2020. However, the country’s government has specified that administrative procedures may delay the actual implementation of the new strategy. Moreover, some officials have pointed out that administrative and legal bottlenecks are to be expected.