Germany Reforms Immigration Law to Attract and Retain Skilled Workers

Those who are awaiting asylum approval, and got their application in by March 29, 2023, have the appropriate qualifications, and a job offer and will also be permitted to join the labor market. This would also allow them to enter vocational training.

A similar change holds for those here on a tourist visa. They will not be required to first leave the country, before returning in an employment context.

Fewer Hurdles in the Recognition of Degrees
A major obstacle to immigration has long been the requirement to have degrees recognized in Germany. This is a long, bureaucratic, and often frustrating process.

In the future, skilled immigrants will no longer have to have their degrees recognized in Germany if they can show they have at least two years of professional experience and a degree that is state-recognized in their country of origin.

However, this is only aimed at skilled workers above a certain salary threshold.

The Skilled Workers Act also provides for a new arrangement: Someone who already has a job offer can already come to Germany and start working while their degree is still being recognized.

Skeptics Don’t Expect Improvement
Not everyone is happy with the proposed changes, which first came up for debate in March. Some in the opposition see a problem that legislation alone can’t fix.

When thousands of skilled workers willing to immigrate are waiting for months for a visa or a recognition of skills, there finally needs to be enough staff, for example, at consulates — not new point system,” Hermann Gröhe, a lawmaker with the conservative CDU-CSU block, said.

Others are mindful of shortcomings in Germany’s digital infrastructure, which hamper visa processing and put off potential foreign labor.

If a computer scientist from Pakistan or India has to wait months to get an appointment at the consulate for a visa, the doubt that sets in will have him choosing another destination country,” Gerd Landsberg, the managing director of the German Association of Cities and Municipalities, told the regional newspaper, Rheinische Post. He pointed out that all industrialized countries are competing for skilled work

In a recent interview with the Berlin daily, Tagesspiegel, the director of Berlin’s immigration office, Engelhard Mazanke, said his office alone already has a three-month backlog and needs at least 50 additional staff to process the influx of thousands of foreign workers and their families. He pointed out that they will come on top of refugees from Ukraine, Middle Eastern, and African countries, along with the regular flow of students and other kinds of migrants from around the world.

Meanwhile, a reform of the citizenship law is on the cards, too. To give immigrants an incentive to integrate and stick around for the long term.

Lisa Hänel is an editor and reporter at DW. Andrea Grunau is a free-lance journalist at DW. This article is published courtesy of Deutsche Welle (DW).