Update to Germany’s Immigration Law

Obtaining employment as a skilled worker under the new German immigration law

Berlin Tor

In this blog, we explore the implications of Germany’s reform of its immigration law for green technicians from non-European Union (EU) countries. With this new law, Germany makes it easier for firms to acquire skilled workers. We are currently informing our cluster partners about these changes on behalf of the green technicians in our pool. It’s important to note that while the minimum language level for entry has been lowered, most firms still require a minimum of B1.2 German proficiency for employment. Also note that the details below have been taken from German public broadcaster ARD’s Tagesschau news service, as well as state administered sources, and may not reflect any subsequent changes in policy. Please refer to the official announcement page administered by the German Federal Government and the Make it in Germany website for official information.

How will the new points-based system work?

A points-based system will be introduced for individuals with a foreign vocational training of at least two years or a university degree who are searching for jobs in Germany. This system, called the “Chancenkarte” or opportunity card, will award points based on twelve criteria such as qualifications, age, and language skills. Those who score at least six points will receive an opportunity card, granting them the right to search for employment in Germany for one year, provided they can demonstrate financial stability. The card can be extended for up to two years if the individual has an employment contract for qualified work and has received approval from the Federal Employment Agency. 

What changes are in store for the “Blue Card”?

The Blue Card EU is a residence permit granted to individuals from non-EU countries who have completed a university degree. Under the new regulations, the salary thresholds for employment in Germany will be significantly reduced to €43,800 gross per year or €3,650 per month*. Blue Card holders will also find it easier to switch employers, reunite with their families, and obtain permission for permanent residence in the EU. Skilled workers will be able to engage in any qualified employment, even if it’s outside their original field of expertise.  Additionally, IT specialists may be eligible for a Blue Card EU even without a university degree if they can demonstrate other relevant qualifications.

What role does work experience play?

Work experience will play a significant role in immigration opportunities. because with the new laws Germany made it easier for firms to acquire skilled workers. Individuals with a minimum of two years of work experience and a vocationally recognised degree from their home country will have the right to immigrate. The degree does not need to be recognised in Germany at the time of immigration, simplifying the process. However, a minimum salary will be determined, and if an individual falls below that threshold, their professional degree will need to be recognised in Germany. Notably, individuals can already start working in Germany while the recognition process is ongoing if the employer commits to providing necessary qualifications.

The new law also addresses the possibility of individuals coming to Germany for vocational training or studies with the intention to stay permanently. To facilitate this, foreign students will be allowed to work as student employees in Germany to support themselves. Moreover, the residence permit for the purpose of finding a training position will be significantly eased by raising the maximum age at which a permit can be granted. The duration of a residence permit will be extended to up to nine months, and individuals will be allowed to engage in employment, including trial employment.

What options are there for asylum seekers?

As for asylum seekers, those whose asylum procedures are already underway will have the opportunity to pursue vocational training or employment in the future. This is known as “changing lanes,” where individuals who are not entitled to asylum status in Germany can stay if they find employment. Recognised refugees already have the right to work. It’s important to note that this “change of lanes” will only apply retroactively and not to new asylum seekers, to prevent creating incentives for irregular migration. The cutoff date for eligibility is March 29, 2023, which means the “change of lanes” is available to individuals whose asylum procedures were already in progress by that time.

What happens to the West Balkans regulation?

The West Balkans regulation, initially valid until the end of 2023, will be extended indefinitely through a supplementary regulation currently in discussion. This regulation would allow employers in Germany to recruit 25,000 workers annually from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. The quota will be increased to 50,000, as it has been successful in bringing qualified workers to Germany.

Additionally, for the first time, an immigration quota is planned for unskilled workers from countries other than the West Balkans, provided they have a job offer in Germany. The proposed number is 30,000, which will be determined by the Federal Employment Agency based on demand. These workers will be allowed to engage in any employment subject to social security contributions for up to eight months within a year, provided the employer is bound by collective agreements and covers the travel costs fully.

What happens next?

The Bundestag passed the law on June 23, 2023. A complementary regulation to the law is expected to be discussed in the Bundesrat on July 7, 2023. Some provisions of the law will come into effect as early as November 2023, while others will take effect six or nine months after the promulgation. This is intended to ensure that the relevant authorities have enough time for implementation. More details about processes here. is already in discussions with green energy firms and is currently accepting jobs applications from green technicians around the world with the skills to power the energy transition. Check our jobs page and submit your application today.

*This figure may vary depending on the worker’s location in Germany, and is adapted on an ongoing basis.

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