March Forward: Updates to the Skilled Immigration Act-Skilled Workers

The original Skilled Immigration Act first came into effect on 1. March 2020. The new act goes into effect in three phases over an eight-month period. We saw the first round go into effect in November 2023, the second round is set to go into effect this March and then again in June 2024.

Members of the EU and EEA (European Economic Area), and Swiss citizens holders can typically move and work within the EU freely. The remainder of us are noted under German law as third-country nationals. The recent changes affect employment and recognition rules with the goal of continuing to make Germany an attractive place for skilled worker to work and emigrate. Over the next few weeks, I will walk you through the expected changes.

The new Skilled Immigration Act provides two additional means in which skilled workers can have their foreign qualifications recognized and be granted entry to Germany.

The first is a recognition partnership in which skilled workers can have their qualification recognized after entry. Issued visas will include requirements that the prospective skilled worker and the employer apply for recognition after entry and to actively pursue the process. The basic requirements for a recognition partnership will be an employment contract, a professional qualification requiring at least two years of training or a university degree, which are recognised by the country, in which the training or studying occurred and proof of A2 German language proficiency. In the past, applicants would be required to have begun the recognition process or to have a notice of partial recognition prior to entry in Germany. Most residence permits will be issued for a one-year period and can be extended up to three years in total. Anyone who has received a notice of partial recognition and who mainly lacks practical professional experience can still enter Germany to complete a qualification measure or alternatively, they can enter the country under a recognition partnership with an employing company.

The second is a residence permit for the purposes of a skills analysis (when deemed necessary by the competent authority in order to have their foreign qualifications recognized). This residency permit would be granted for a maximum of 6 months. Applicants must demonstration a minimum of A2 German language proficiency.

In certain instances, a skilled worker can apply for a temporary residency permit to have their foreign qualifications recognized and during this time, the worker may need to participate in additional technical, practical or linguistic training as needed or where a specific deficiency is noted. The residence permit is then for the recognition of a foreign professional in connection with a qualification measure. Previously such a permit was issued for an 18-month period in which the permit holder would then complete the adaptative measures. This permit can now be issued for up to 24 months and then extended for an additional 12 months. The total residency period for this permit cannot exceed three years. In hopes of making it easier for skilled workers to join the labor market, permit holders can now work up to 20 hours per week during the qualification measure. This type of employment will be always be considered as a form of secondary employment.

Stay tuned next week for the anticipated changes for international students and trainees.

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