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A new law for skilled labourers

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From 1st March 2020 a new law came into force in Germany, the “Skilled Labour Immigration Act” (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz). This now makes it easier for skilled labourers from non-EU countries to enter Germany and look for jobs or apprenticeships.

Since legal texts are always rather complicated, we have summarized the most important changes below. If you have any questions, our team at the FrankfurtRheinMain International Office will be happy to answer them.

 

 

What is a “skilled labourer”?

According to the new law, the official definition of a “skilled labourer” (Fachkraft) is clear:

- Academics ie. people with a university degree which is recognized in Germany or comparable.

- People with vocational training. The prerequisite for this is a vocational training course of at least two years and a qualification that is recognized in Germany.

 

Recognition of qualifications before entering Germany

Qualifications obtained abroad must be recognized in Germany or be comparable. This includes school-leaving certificates, university degrees or vocational qualifications.  The "Zentrale Servicestelle Berufsanerkennung (ZSBA)" has been created for this purpose and provides information for international skilled labourers on how this is done in Germany. You will find a summary of the most important information on our website.

 

Residency for qualification purposes

If your foreign qualification has only been partially recognized, you can acquire the missing qualifications in Germany retrospectively. You will have a maximum period of 24 months to do so and you must meet two requirements:

1. You have official confirmation stating that gaps in the qualification were identified when compared with the equivalent German course.

2. You have a basic knowledge of German. At least language level A2 is required.

 

Better opportunities for jobseekers

According to the new law, international skilled labourers may now work in other professions where the minimum requirement is a vocational training course. For example, as a trained nurse you can also work as a geriatric nurse. In addition, international skilled labourers who have vocational training, are free to take on a job as an apprentice.

 

Entering as a jobseeker

Skilled labourers of all professions may enter Germany for a maximum of six months in order to look for a job. To do so, they must meet three conditions:

  • They must have a good knowledge of German. At least B1 language level is required.
  • Their qualification is recognized in Germany or is equivalent to a German qualification.
  • They can prove that they are financially self-sufficient in Germany.

While looking for work, they are allowed to work for up to ten hours per week on probation or on an internship. This has the advantage that the skilled labourer and their potential employer can get to know each other better.

 

Entering in search of an apprenticeship

Those who would like to do an apprenticeship can enter Germany to search for a suitable apprenticeship. To do so, they must meet four requirements:

  1. They have a good knowledge of German. At least language level B2 is required.
  2. They are in possession of a school-leaving certificate that entitles them to enter university.
  3. They are not older than 25 years.
  4. They can provide proof that they are financially self-sufficient in Germany.

In this case they will receive a so-called “residence permit for qualified vocational training”. This enables them to attend a German course. During their apprenticeship, they are allowed to work for up to ten hours per week on probation or on an internship. This has the advantage that the skilled labourer and their potential employer can get to know each other better.

 

Opportunities for international students

The new law has increased opportunities for international students. As long as it is approved by the Federal Employment Agency, students may work in their specialist area while studying or taking a vocational training course in Germany. Their permit can then be turned into a so-called “residence permit for qualified employment”. This currently applies to jobs in the IT sector. In addition, International students may also give up studying and start vocational training instead. For this purpose they receive a “residence permit for the purpose of vocational training”.

 

Priority check no longer required

With the new law in place, it is now easier to get onto the job market. Up to now, the Federal Employment Agency had to check whether there were suitable applicants from Germany or the EU for a job before skilled labourers from non-EU countries could be recruited. This so-called "priority check" is now no longer required. Instead, the prerequisite is that the non-EU applicant's qualifications are recognized and they have an employment contract in Germany.

 

Permanent residence permit

The permanent residence permit is an unlimited residence permit and is no longer bound to a specific purpose of stay. International skilled labourers can now apply for this permit after just four years. For international graduates of vocational training or degree courses, it is even faster: after just two years, they can apply for a permanent residence permit.

 

Who to contact

For information on the application of visas and residence permits, you should contact the German Embassy in your country. If you are already living in Germany, you should contact your local immigration office (Ausländerbehörde). You will find your local immigration office in FrankfurtRheinMain on our map.