Germany changes its immigration policies to entice talented workers

June 24, 2023
[caption id="attachment_405" align="alignleft" width="600"]Germany changes its immigration policies to entice talented workers Photo: depositphotos[/caption] On Friday, June 23, the Bundestag approved ground-breaking legislation that will update Germany's immigration laws in order to address a severe shortage of skilled employees. By eliminating barriers and fostering new opportunities, the new law will attempt to fulfill the coalition agreement's commitment to make Germany more welcoming to immigrants. It will do this by modeling its immigration policy after the points-based Canadian system.
“The lack of skilled labour is deemed to be one of the worst drags on growth for the German economy … [Therefore], we also need immigration. We need almost 400,000 people to come to our country,” Nancy Faeser, the interior minister, told MPs ahead of the vote.
The law will let eligible foreign nationals to hunt for employment in Germany if they receive at least 6 points on a list of requirements, including educational background and language proficiency. The so-called Opportunity Card, which gives recipients the right to look for work in the nation for at least a year, will be given to qualified candidates.

New Criteria

The measure would also expand privileges including family reunification and leave to remain while lowering eligibility requirements for Blue Card work visas. Additionally, the government will increase the amount of work visas that are available to businesses so that they can explicitly hire people from the Western Balkans.
“There are mainly three new developments: first, an extension of the recognition of foreign qualifications, secondly, work experience will be playing a greater role; and third, the points-based system,” Hans Vorländer, a political scientist at the TU Dresden and chair of the Expert Council on Integration and Migration established by the federal government, told EURACTIV.
However, he warned that the law might create administrative bottlenecks and longer processing times, making it “doubtful if the law will actually lead to the desired figures.” “The efficiency of the law is a question of its implementation and of administrative investment,” he said. The law marks a recent shift in how Germany is handling migration, as the country has been sceptical to increase regular migration for decades. “Germany is not an immigration country. And we can’t become one,” former chancellor Helmut Kohl famously proclaimed in 1989. The so-called Immigration Act for Skilled Personnel in Germany was already passed by the previous administration, headed by Angela Merkel, in 2020; nevertheless, the new strategy will further loosen the nation's immigration laws.


Recent surveys, however, have indicated that, as Germany has been dealing with an increase in the number of migrants since 2022, anger toward migration is reemerging in the nation. The so-called "lane change" clause in the law, which would permit asylum seekers to remain in the country if they find employment even after their asylum application is denied, has also generated controversy. Critics warned that this would encourage irregular migration even more, therefore the government only applied the clause to applicants who were already citizens of the nation. Nevertheless, a study done by ARD Deutschlandtrend in May found that 41% of Germans in general favour an increase in skilled migration. However, the discussion in parliament on Friday revealed that opinions on the need for more labor ranged sharply, as did attitudes on openness to a variety of immigration.
“You’re not envisaging skilled but low-skilled labour. 25,000 people from the Western Balkans, 30,000 for short-term employment, 30,000 for the Opportunity Card … That has nothing to do with qualification anymore,” argued Stephan Stracke, an MP for the CDU/CSU, the largest opposition party group.
AfD legislator Norbert Kleinwächter asserted that migration in past years had primarily came from nations like Romania, Afghanistan, India, and Bulgaria, which he saw as evidence that the government's ambitions were turning Germany into a "junk country." According to Vorländer, the state will play a crucial role in resolving the inconsistencies in German attitudes on immigration.
“It’s important to increase efforts to help people with the required linguistic education. This would be a measure that creates acceptance, which is the duty of politicians,” he said.

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