Analysis of the German Skilled Immigration Act 2023
The German Skilled Immigration Act, which will be ratified in November 2023 and thus become legally binding, is a significant reform in the field of immigration policy and aims to facilitate access to the German labor market for highly qualified professionals from abroad. The reform of the law has several aspects, including the introduction of the "opportunity card", the extension of the "Blue Card Germany" with a skilled worker permit. In the following, I will analyze the main elements of the law, going into advantages, disadvantages, the equivalence of foreign qualifications and other details. In the future, a skilled worker whose residence permit was issued after March 2024 will be allowed to join parents and parents-in-law as part of a family reunification. Provided that the conditions for the stay are met.
The opportunity card is a central concept of the new law. It enables qualified job seekers to come to Germany without a previous job offer. This offers potential immigrants the opportunity to look for local job opportunities and integrate into the German labor market. This flexibility can help meet the demand for skilled workers in certain sectors and diversify the labour market.
Flexibility for job seekers: valid for 1 year, can be extended for up to 24 months if there is a job offer. The opportunity card allows not only skilled workers with a university degree to apply for it, but also skilled workers with a recognized degree in a shortage occupation, e.g.
During the job search, probationary and secondary employment should be allowed.
The opportunity map refers to a small part of labour migration, namely to a certain group of potential migrant workers who come to Germany without an employment contract to look for a job and to "search for measures for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications" (Attention! This search means that a certificate of equivalence has been applied for in advance and this has only been partially granted. This means that with a post-qualification visa or an opportunity card, the candidate can enter the country and complete the post-qualification in Germany. After that, full equivalence must be certified.
On the one hand, foreigners who have the status of skilled worker (i.e. a university degree or a professional qualification that is considered equivalent to a German degree) can receive an opportunity card. This possibility of entering the country to look for a job already existed before (but only for 6 months), but it was little used. Persons with skilled worker status will not have to be included in the points system in the future. What is new, however, is the entry option for people without skilled worker status to look for a job. These must achieve a sufficient score (currently 6 points).
So far, the following options for awarding points have been provided for (Section 20b (5) of the Residence Act):
- German language skills (A1 - B2)English language skills (B1)
- 5 years of professional experience (within 7 years)
- 2 years of professional experience (within 5 years)
- Maximum age 35 years when applying for the opportunity card
- Age 36–40 years when applying for the Opportunity Card, 6-month stay in Germany (in the last 5 years)
Professional qualification: For example, there must either be a foreign professional qualification – recognised by the country in which it was acquired – which has been preceded by a training period of at least two years. Alternatively, a university degree is valid – also recognized by the state in which it was obtained. Further requirements are the securing of livelihood.
Blue Card Germany:
The Blue Card Germany has been expanded to give more skilled workers from non-EU countries access to the German labour market. The card is valid for highly qualified persons with recognised academic degrees or comparable qualifications (proof of equivalence IHK FOSA). The minimum salary for skilled workers in shortage occupations with recognised vocational training and professional experience has been lowered. If vocational training or higher education is state-recognised in the country of origin, proof of equivalence is no longer required.
Attractive option for highly qualified people: The Blue Card makes it easier for highly qualified professionals to work and live in Germany and offers them an opportunity for long-term integration.
Faster Residency Permit: The Blue Card allows for faster application and processing of residency permits for skilled immigrants.
Restriction to the highly qualified: Persons with an intermediate level of qualification may still have difficulties in obtaining access to the Blue Card.
The Jobseeker visa allows foreign skilled workers to enter Germany for six months in order to actively look for work.
Targeted job search: The visa allows for a targeted job search locally, which can increase the chances of successful integration.
Time limit: A six-month visa may not be enough for some job seekers to find a suitable job.
Equivalence of training:
An important challenge in the implementation of the law is the recognition of foreign qualifications. In order to ensure that the qualifications of immigrants meet German standards, an efficient and transparent recognition structure must be in place. From the ratification of the new Skilled Immigration Act in November 2023, state recognition of training in the country of origin will be sufficient.
It is crucial to establish a clear and fair method for assessing foreign qualifications in order to avoid discrimination.
A coordinated approach between educational institutions and labour market actors can help to ensure better equivalence of qualifications.
The German Skilled Immigration Act 2023 represents an important step towards a modern and flexible immigration policy. It remains to be seen whether the employment agency, which is always involved, will follow this reform and whether the processing processes and assessments of applications within the authorities will comply with this law by adapting the processing guidelines.
The task of the Employment Agency is to look after and advise unemployed people in Germany and to bring them back into the labour market as quickly as possible. This goal is always preceded by the mandate to admit skilled workers from outside to the domestic labor market. This is a conflict that needs to be resolved for the benefit of German companies and the economy.
Embassies around the world are suffering from staff shortages. Depending on the country of origin, it sometimes takes months before a D visa can be issued for entry.
All in all, we hope for the best that the reform of the Skilled Immigration Act will enable faster and smoother legal immigration.
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