The Skilled Immigration Act

(Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz),

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.

Qualification Recognition

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.

Fast Track

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

a job.

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

study place).

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.

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