With almost 2 million vacant positions in 2022, Germany and its shortage of skilled workers are a constant topic. The turning point in the context of skilled labor immigration is now to be the Act on the Further Development of Skilled Labor Immigration with the accompanying ordinance. The goal is a faster, more family-friendly and digital immigration of skilled workers. The new regulations will come into force successively from November 2023 and January 2024.
In the future, skilled labor immigration will be based on three pillars: The skilled labor pillar, the experience pillar and the potential pillar. The upcoming changes are presented below as an overview without claiming to be complete.
I. Skilled labor pillar (qualification)
The skilled labor pillar is to be the central element of immigration. Skilled workers should be able to enter Germany and take up employment under easier conditions. To strengthen their immigration, the following changes were made:
- Any qualified professional may engage in any qualified employment in non-regulated professions (elimination of the requirement of a connection between qualification and employment).
- Skilled workers with vocational training (like with academic training) will be entitled to a residence title if all requirements are met.
- Reduction of the period of prior residence for the granting of a settlement permit.
High attention should be paid to the changes around the EU Blue Card.
- Significant lowering of the existing minimum salary threshold for standard professions to 50% and for understaffed professions to 45.3% of the annual contribution ceiling in the general pension insurance. This would put the minimum salary threshold at this year’s income threshold at only 43.800 (or for understaffed professions at 39.682, 80) euros per year.
- Increase in the number of understaffed professions.
- IT specialists will be able to receive the EU Blue Card without a university degree.
- Facilitation of the change of employer.
- Facilitation of obtaining of the EU Blue Card for young professionals (minimum salary threshold in 2023: 39.682,80 euros per year).
- Facilitation of obtaining the permanent residence permit.
- Introduction of regulations for the exercise of short- and long-term intra-EU mobility in the Federal Republic of Germany for holders of an EU Blue Card issued by another EU member state.
II. Experience pillar
- Entry and taking up qualified employment often no longer require a (formally) recognized qualification in Germany, provided that practical work experience is available to the required extent (applies to all non-regulated professions).• Reduction of the required work experience for IT specialists.
- Introduction of a “recognition partnership” (residence permit for employment with accompanying professional recognition in Germany)
III. Potential pillar
- Introduction of the “opportunity card” with points system (residence permit for job search)
It remains to be seen how the new skilled worker immigration law will prove itself in practice and whether it will at least partially bring the desired success. Too many skilled workers are still not interested in working in Germany. High bureaucratic hurdles, long processing times, significant local differences, and officers who still cannot speak English in 2023 often prevent employers from recruiting quickly. In view of the competition for talent, Germany must prove that immigration of skilled workers is successful in practice. We are happy to support employers in this to the best of our ability.
For further information, please contact:
Benjamin Karcher, Bird & Bird