The Skilled Immigration Act
which applies from 1 March 2020, is intended to facilitate
immigration and employment for foreign skilled workers.
Early Departure Notification
Effective 1 March 2020, employers are obliged to notify the
local immigration office of any early termination of an assignment
or employment of a foreign worker holding a residence permit for
employment, within four weeks after receiving knowledge of an early
termination. The violation of this obligation is punishable as an
administrative offence by a fine of up to EUR 30,000.
Correspondingly, foreign nationals holding a residence permit
for employment must now notify the foreigners office within two
weeks of knowledge of early termination of their studies,
vocational training or employment in Germany. Failure to comply
with this obligation can lead to a monetary fine for the foreign
national of up to EUR 1000.
The method of notification, and the progress of implementation
of this rule, may vary between local immigration offices, but the
notification is now a legal requirement.
Definition of Skilled Worker
Skilled workers (Fachkraft) within the meaning of the law are
now not only third-country nationals who have a university degree,
but also those who have vocational qualifications.
Skilled workers may practice an occupation for which they are
qualified. Skilled workers with academic training are able to
practice not just those occupations which require a university
degree but also other qualified professions which fall within the
specialist context of the qualification, and for which vocational,
non-academic training is normally required.
With a specific job offer and with recognition of their
qualification, skilled workers with vocational training are now
able to access all occupations for which they are qualified. They
are no longer limited to specific shortage occupations.
The employment of unqualified or low-qualified foreign workers
is not possible under the new law. Prior to entry, the foreign
national's qualification is verified for equivalence through
the so-called recognition process (anabin). There is one exception
– IT specialists who have at least three years of
professional experience and a current salary that meets the locally
set minimum threshold can come to Germany without recognition and
practice their occupation.
Applicants whose qualifications are only partially recognised
can apply for a residence permit for up to 18 months to complete
the necessary training and education in Germany in order to obtain
the missing qualifications. To qualify, applicants must have German
language at A2 level and sufficient financial resources.
Foreign skilled workers are now able to come to Germany even
before the start of the recognition procedure and to take up
employment in parallel with the procedure. The requirement for this
is a placement agreement between the Federal Employment Agency and
the labour authorities in the country of origin.
Labour Market Test
For skilled workers, the new law waives the “priority
check” (Vorrangprüfung) which tests whether privileged
applicants (German or other EU-national qualified workers) are
available on the labor market. However, if the labor market
situation changes, the priority check may be reintroduced for
certain professional groups or regions.
Another new feature is the introduction of an accelerated
process for skilled workers (beschleugnigtes
Fachkräfteverfahren), which the employer can initiate at the
local immigration office.
For this purpose, a new regulation stipulates that the employer,
acting on behalf of the employee at the authority, can conclude an
agreement with the competent immigration authority, authorizing the
local immigration office to initiate the procedure for determining
the equivalence of the professional qualification or, if necessary,
obtaining a license to exercise the profession or to securing a
pre-approval from the Federal Employment Agency.
The immigration office must also inform the German
representation in the home country of an upcoming visa application
and give their pre-approval on the visa process, provided all the
requirements are met.
In the accelerated process for skilled workers, the employee
receives an appointment for a personal interview with the German
representation at the latest three weeks after prior approval (time
will show if this is realistic). After another three weeks, the
visa should be issued.
Job Seeker Visa
The job seeker visa for skilled workers has been extended to
include qualified workers with vocational training. Such visas may
be issued for a duration of six months with the opportunity to find
The requirements for those with vocational qualifications
include proof of sufficient financial resources, German language
skills at level B1 and residence in the current country of
residence for at least six months. The job seeker visa allows the
holder to carry out trial employment (Probearbeit) for up to ten
hours per week.
Another new feature of the job seeker visa is the possibility of
a stay in order to seek vocational training (an apprenticeship or
The corresponding residence permit can be issued to foreign
nationals who have not reached the age of 25 ,with a school-leaving
qualification that entitles them to access higher education in
Germany or their home country, as well as knowledge of German at
level B2, provided that their livelihood is ensured.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.