Germany has officially implemented changes to its skilled immigration rules, effective November 18, 2023, as part of the revised Skilled Immigration Act passed by the Bundestag earlier this summer.
The move of the country comes in response to a pressing issue faced by German employers, who are currently dealing with a shortage of hundreds of thousands of workers in different sectors, particularly in IT, technology, medical care, contracting, and logistics.
According to Deutsche Welle, the revamped rules seek to streamline and facilitate the immigration of skilled workers from countries outside the European Union.
Moreover, it has been explained that the changes are set to be rolled out in three stages, with the first set of adjustments taking immediate effect on November 18.
In line with the newly adopted rules, one notable change is the modification of the EU Blue Card system. With immediate effect, the EU Blue Cars system now allows more highly qualified workers from third countries to enter Germany for work purposes without the need to undergo previous German language requirements.
Moreover, in line with the new rules, the annual salary limits for the EU Blue Card have been lowered to under €40,000 for entry-level as well as for jobs that are especially in high demand.
As for all the other occupations, the limit is set at €44,000. This income adjustment includes professions like educators and nurses.
IT skilled workers who do not hold a university degree will also now qualify for an EU Blue Card provided that they prove to have three years of professional experience in the same field.
Access to the German labour market will also gain nursing assistants who have less than three years of training.
In addition to the above-mentioned, another important change is that skilled workers with professional or academic qualifications who meet all the requirements are now entitled to a residence permit.
According to Deutsche Welle, the Federal Employment Agency has already been instructed to accelerate the approval prospective foreign workers.
Moreover, it has been noted that experienced professionals are no longer required to have their qualifications re-recognised in Germany as long as these requirements are acknowledged by their country of origin as well as backed by at least two years of experience.
Additional changes are set to enter into force on March 1, 2024. The changes that will become effective next year include provisions for training. Individuals will be allowed to stay in Germany for up to three years as well as work part-time while at the same time undergoing necessary training.
Employers in Germany can also sponsor skilled workers directly provided that the latter has at least two years of experience and an A2 level of German proficiency.
Family reunification requirements have also been adjusted, with skilled workers needing to prove that they can support their spouses and children’s livelihoods, but not necessarily demonstrating sufficient living space.
An upcoming addition is also the introduction of an “Opportunity Card” that is point-based. This card is set to be introduced in June 2024 and will allow foreigners to stay in Germany for up to a year to look for a job.
Germany also plans to relax citizenship rules for individuals from Western Balkan countries, doubling the quota to 50,000 for workers from there.