Changes to rules on foreign skilled workers

5 October 2023 2 min read

By Barbara Angene

At a glance

  • On 23 June 2023, the German Parliament passed a reform of the Skilled Workers Immigration Act (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz).

Skilled labour immigration in Germany will be structured around a comprehensive three-pillar framework. The three pillars will be skilled labour, experience, and potential.

Foreign skilled workers will have the opportunity to work in non-regulated professions in Germany, even if they lack formal qualifications. This is contingent upon them possessing a minimum of two years of professional experience and / or completing a vocational training program lasting at least two years, which is recognised by the state in their country of origin.

However, a salary threshold will need to be met or the employer will need to be covered by a collective agreement. If the salary threshold is not met, employment can still proceed through a 'recognition partnership.' This innovative partnership allows skilled workers to commence work in Germany immediately, even if their professional qualifications have not yet received recognition, as long as this aligns with applicable professional regulations. This provision remains applicable even when qualifications are still pending recognition. Employees and employers are obliged to carry out the recognition procedure quickly.

There will be a possibility for short-term contingent employment in sectors experiencing exceptionally high demand. This provision permits individuals to work in Germany for up to eight months, regardless of their individual qualifications, provided that the employer is bound by collective agreements. Social security contributions will commence from the outset of employment.

In addition to these provisions, asylum seekers who were in the asylum procedure as of 29 March 2023 and are already residing in Germany, will have the opportunity to transition into regular employment if they possess the relevant qualifications. Those asylum seekers who already have ongoing asylum procedures will also be given the chance to pursue vocational training in the future. This regulation will be applied retroactively.

Individuals without a university degree but with three years of vocational training will be eligible to obtain an EU Blue Card if they have a concrete job offer. IT specialists can also secure a Blue Card under specific conditions, even if they lack a university degree, provided they can demonstrate relevant non-formal qualifications.