Recruiting skilled workers after immigration reform in Germany

What do german employers need to know?

What employers need to know when recruiting third-country professionals in Germany after immigration reform & introduction of the opportunity card.

Published on: 02.12.2022
Qualification: Attorney in Hamburg and Berlin
Reading time:

The german government is addressing the shortage of skilled workers and presented a key points paper on reforming immigration rules on Wednesday, which was passed in the parliament today. It aims to address the problem in the german labor market by recruiting skilled workers from abroad more effectively. What legal changes are planned and what employers must consider when recruiting employees from abroad in Germany will be explained in the following.

Framework paper: so-called "opportunity card" to facilitate immigration in Germany

In order to facilitate the immigration of people from third countries who have good chances of finding a job in Germany, new ways of finding a job are to be created in addition to the existing immigration options. A points system based on the Canadian model is to be introduced - referred to in the paper as the "opportunity card". A limited number of opportunity cards will be issued each year by the german government. These will be issued to third-country nationals who

  1. are able to earn their own living and
  2. have a degree recognized in Germany or
  3. meet a certain number of additional criteria. These are: (1) a foreign vocational or university degree, (2) at least three years of work experience, (3) language skills or previous residence in Germany, and (4) age, e.g., under 35.

The recognition of foreign professional qualifications is also to be made easier.

In addition, the existing Blue Card, which allows skilled workers to immigrate if they exceed a certain wage level (currently EUR 56,400 gross) and have a concrete job offer in Germany, is to be adapted. The main aim is to lower the wage level.

More rights of co-determination for employers: Priority check to be partially eliminated

In addition, german employers are to have more say in who they hire in the future: In the future, any recognized qualification in non-regulated professions will entitle a person to employment, according to the cornerstone paper.

Until now, the so-called priority check has first had to determine whether German or European citizens are available for the job in question. If so, the residence permit cannot be issued. This very complex and unpredictable check has so far been seen as a deterrent by many german employers.

Employees from abroad: How do german employers proceed?

Up to now, the granting of a residence permit for prospective employees from third countries (i.e., outside the EU) already required in most cases that they could prove a concrete job offer in Germany - in the form of a confirmation or directly through a signed employment contract. This was and is often unfortunate for german employers, who were sometimes forced to sign an employment contract without knowing whether and when the associated residence permit would be issued. Exceptions have always existed only for selected countries, for example Israel, Australia, Canada, the USA and Great Britain.

In any case, this procedure will no longer apply to holders of the opportunity card in the future, as they will be able to come to Germany to look for training or a job offer if they meet the requirements, and their stay will thus be clarified for the time being.

Incidentally, german employers who employ people from third countries are generally obliged to check whether they have a valid residence title and whether it entitles them to perform the specific activity. The residence title itself and the check must also be documented and a copy of the title kept.

Nach oben