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German cabinet approves immigration laws to ease worker shortageThe much talked about German Skilled Immigration Act came into force on March 2, making it easier for new categories of skilled non-EU nationals with vocational or non-academic training to come and work in Germany.

The new immigration law, which introduced relaxed rules for those wishing to work in Germany, has made it possible for categories of workers who previously did not stand a chance to work in Germany, to actually take over jobs here, as it expands the framework under which qualified professionals from non-EU countries can move to Germany for employment purposes.

Following in this article, find all the new changes introduced by the new rules for getting a job in Germany as a non-EU national.

Relaxed Rules & Procedures for Qualified Professionals

The New German Law on the Immigration of Skilled non-EU nationals defines qualified professionals as persons with either:

  • A tertiary education degree, or
  • A vocational training qualification, taken after a training course that lasted for a minimum of two years.

Those wishing to work in Germany, no matter in which of the two groups given above they belong, must first have their foreign qualification officially recognised by the relevant authority in Germany.

Once a non-EU national has a recognised qualification of one of the above, he/she shall get a job contract/offer from an employer in Germany, in their field of professionalism.

With the new rules, the Federal Employment Agency will not carry out priority checks whether a specific job can be filled by an applicant from Germany or the EU for which a non-EU worker has been offered with a work contract. Yet, the agency will still verify the employment conditions.

Moreover, qualified professionals can also:

  • engage in an occupation related to their professionals that is not necessarily their field of expertise.
  • can also work in jobs wor which a tertiary education degree is not compulsory (qualified professionals with academic degrees only).
  • in other professions which are related to their qualification, for which a vocational, non-academic qualification is usually required (excluding auxiliary and semi-skilled occupations).

As per qualified professionals with vocational qualifications, i.e. non-academic training, their employment is no longer restricted to occupations for which there is a lack of skilled EU nationals.

Non-EU citizens with the right vocational training qualification recognised in Germany which their residence permit allows them to work in a specific occupation, can work in Germany in all occupations covered by their qualification.

Coming to Germany as a Job Seeker Is Now Possible

Those that fail to find a job from their country of residence, while meeting the conditions given, can instead come to Germany for a maximum of six months to look for a job.

The preconditions for getting a six-month valid visa as a jobseeker to Germany are:

  • Applicant’s foreign qualification is recognised by the relevant body in Germany,
  • He/she has enough funds to support themselves for the duration of their stay.
  • They must have German language knowledge of at least B1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages are required.

What special about this type of visa, is that though its holder cannot work full-time with it, he or she can work up to 10 hours per week. This way, an employer and foreign qualified professional to find out if they are suited to each other.

Coming to Germany for Training and Skill Development

Those wishing to further develop their skills in Germany now will have it easier to get e visa for Training and Skill Development, as the new law facilitates the procedures and requirements.

Non-EU citizens can now get a visa to undertake training in Germany to meet vocational requirements, given that they meet the following:

  • The applicant has required from the relevant body in Germany to undertake the recognition procedure whilst abroad. At the end of the procedure finds, this body comes to the conclusion that this person’s foreign qualification does not completely meet the requirements of a German qualification, and further training is required for the applicant.
  • The applicant has the necessary German language skills, A2 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

With such a visa, a foreigner can get a residence permit valid for one and a half year, which can be extended for another six months.

Upon the end of the validity of this residence permit, the holder can then apply for a residence permit for training, study or work.

What the New Law Brings for Trainees and Students

Non-EU students wishing to seek a training place in Germany can do so with the new rules, given that they have a school-leaving certificate from a German school abroad or a school leaving certificate which grants a person with the right to receive higher education.

The trainee must also meet the conditions given below:

  • German language skills at B2 level.
  • Maximum age of 25 years.
  • The ability to support oneself financially.

Moreover, a residence permit for a vocational training course will enable the holder to attend a German language course, either general or occupation-related.

Improved Possibilities for Students to Change Residence Status

With the new law into effect, students in Germany will have it easier to switch to other types of residence permits, before they complete their studies.

Some of the new options are:

  • beginning vocational training and getting a residence permit to attend a vocational training course, instead of continuing studies.
  • getting a job as a qualified professional whilst still studying or receiving vocational training (under certain preconditions)

As per foreigners who have successfully completed a vocational training course in Germany, they can apply to receive a permanent settlement permit upon a period of two years in the country, the same period as applies to graduates.

New Rules & Procedures for Companies Hiring Non-EU Workers

The Skilled Immigration Act for non-EU workers also creates facilities for companies in Germany wishing to hire workers outside the block.

The first facilitation is that employers can now launch expedited procedures for qualified professionals at the relevant foreigner’s registration office in Germany. This move has been introduced in a bid to shorten the duration of the administrative procedure for the issuing of the visa.

In order for a company in Germany to be able to do so, it needs a power of attorney from the qualified professional, while following the steps given below:

  1. The company and the foreigner’s registration office conclude an agreement, which includes a description of the procedures including the parties, the deadlines, powers of attorney and obligations for the employer, the qualified professional and the relevant authorities and.
  2. The foreigner’s registration office shall then obtain the approval of the Federal Employment Agency. The Federal Employment Agency and the recognition bodies must take their decisions within certain deadlines.
  3. The office issues an advance approval if all conditions are met, which is sent to the employer. The latter shall then pass approval on to the qualified professional.
  4. The qualified professional then makes an appointment at the German mission abroad to apply for the visa. Once the complete visa application has been submitted by the qualified professional, a decision is usually taken within another three weeks.

An applicant can include his/her spouse and minor unmarried children in the expedited procedure for qualified professionals if their visas are submitted at the same time. The spouse and children must meet the statutory requirements for the subsequent immigration of family members.

E-Sports Visa for Athletes and Coaches

With the new rules, a special visa for esports athletes and coaches will be introduced. It will enable these persons to obtain German residence permits without the German Federal Employment Agency having to approve them.

The new visa will fall under the Section 22 of the German Employment Regulation, which is dedicated to Special Professional Groups from non-EU countries wishing to work in Germany.

These professionals, for whom no work permit is required to get a residence permit, include professional athletes or professional trainers in the process of joining German sports clubs or comparable sports facilities participating in competitive sports.

The following criteria must be met by those wishing to gain employment in Germany through the e-sports visa.

  • He/she must be 16 years of age and older.
  • The sports club or establishment pays the athlete/coach sufficiently in order for him/her to earn a living (at least 50 per cent of the income threshold of the statutory pension insurance).
  • The German Sports Federation and the responsible central association for the sport, by mutual agreement confirm the athlete’s athletic qualification or the coach’s professional competence.

In order for foreign athletes and coaches to be able to work in Germany, they will need to initially require an entry visa that must later be converted into a residence permit. The residence permit application must be approved by the local Foreigners Authority of the intended place of residence in Germany.