On 1 March 2024, the second stage of the Skilled Immigration Act will come into force in Germany. This second stage will facilitate the employment of skilled workers with professional experience from non-EU countries.

1. New Regulations on Professional Experience

In future, skilled workers with professional experience from non-EU countries will be allowed to work in non-regulated professions in Germany without their professional qualification being formally recognised in Germany. The prerequisite is a state-recognised qualification of at least two years of vocational training in the country of origin and at least two years of experience in this profession. Furthermore, the job offer in Germany must either provide for a gross annual salary of 40,770 EUR or the potential employer must be subject to a collective labour agreement. In this case, a salary in line with the collective agreement ("salary threshold") is sufficient.

For IT specialists, access to the German labour market will be made even easier: Whereas previously at least three years of professional experience was required, this is now only two years, and a vocational or university degree and language skills are still not required.

2. Residence Permit for the Recognition of a Foreign Professional Qualification

The opportunities to participate in qualification measures in Germany are being expanded. If the salary threshold is not reached, entry and employment is possible within the framework of a recognition partnership. In this case, the skilled worker receives a residence permit to carry out the qualified employment, but the necessary recognition procedure is only carried out after entry. This means that it is no longer necessary to initiate the recognition procedure for the professional qualification or to obtain a notice of partial equivalence before entering Germany. The prospective skilled worker and the employer only have to undertake to initiate the recognition procedure and apply for recognition of the professional qualification before entering the country. The prerequisite for the recognition partnership is the existence of a professional qualification recognised in the country of origin, which required at least two years of vocational training, or a university degree. Furthermore, German language skills at level A2 (GER - CEFR) are also required.

3. Short-Term Employment in Sectors with High Demand

The Federal Employment Agency can set a quota for certain sectors with high demand. For 2024, the quota is 25,000 foreign workers for all industries. Within this framework, workers from non-EU countries can work in Germany for up to eight months (within one year), regardless of their professional qualifications, provided that;

  • the employer is bound by collective labour agreements and the workers are employed in accordance with the applicable collective labour agreements,
  • the weekly working time is at least 30 hours,
  • the employer covers all travel expenses.

4. Blue Card for Skilled Workers with a University Degree

The "EU Blue Card" is the residence permit for skilled academic professionals from non-EU countries. In future, even more skilled workers are to receive the EU Blue Card with its favourable regulations on family reunification, the right of permanent residence and the possibility of changing jobs.

5. Introduction of the Job Search Opportunity Card

From June 2024, the new opportunity card for residence for job-seeking purposes will be introduced. Third-country nationals who can prove that their foreign qualification is fully equivalent can obtain the opportunity card without any further special requirements. All others must provide proof of a foreign university degree, a vocational qualification recognised by the state in the country of training for at least two years or a vocational qualification issued by a German Chamber of Commerce Abroad. If these requirements are met, skilled workers must collect points for the recognition of their qualification in Germany, language skills (German or English), professional experience, age, connection to Germany and the potential of accompanying life partners. At least six points are required for the opportunity card. The opportunity card is issued for a maximum period of one year if the person's livelihood can be guaranteed for this period.

Autor: Senem Kathrin Güçlüer