Germany's new immigration bill: What to know

Last month, the cabinet of German Chancellor Angela Merkel approved a new bill aimed at attracting skilled workers from outside the EU — but this doesn’t mean it’s a law yet.

The bill has just passed the very first step of Germany’s legislative procedure and now needs to be passed by Parliament.

Germany’s Ministry of Interior defines “skilled workers” as people who meet specific education and job qualifications, such as nurses, IT specialists and carpenters.

We’ve been getting a lot of questions recently about this new immigration bill, and whether migrants in Italy can now abandon their asylum procedure and go find work in Germany without any issues.

So we spoke with our colleagues at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) Germany, a lawyer and protection specialist, to find out what this new law is all about.

The short answer:

  • The bill is not yet a law.
  • The bill applies only to “skilled workers.”
  • The bill states that asylum-seekers in other EU countries will not be eligible to work in Germany.

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What the German bill proposes

This bill — called “Fachkräftezuwanderungsgesetz” in German — is intended to make the process of recruiting skilled workers from outside the EU easier for German employers. Germany’s Ministry of Interior defines “skilled workers" as foreigners who have:

  • A German university degree, a foreign university degree recognized by Germany or a foreign university degree comparable to one from Germany.
  • A job qualification received from vocational training in Germany or a foreign job qualification equal to one received in Germany.

As part of your application before you arrive in Germany, German authorities will closely examine your professional qualification. According to IRC Germany, the country’s chamber of commerce will likely need to approve any relevant certificates and make sure they’re equal to ones you can get in Germany.

If passed, IRC Germany tells us the bill would allow skilled workers to apply for a 6-month visa to seek work. However, the bureaucratic application process requires:

  • A recognized job qualification in a sector of interest to the German economy.
  • Proof that you can support yourself financially while you look for work in Germany, as no state support will be provided.
  • Sufficient German language skills, at least at B1 level and for some permits B2.

When the new policy could come into force

According to lawyers from the Council for Refugees of Lower Saxony, once the law is passed, it will not come into force before January 1, 2020.

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I’m a skilled worker and have requested asylum in Italy. Once this bill comes into force, will I be able to go work in Germany?

Even if you meet the above requirements, you will not be eligible for this work visa if you’ve requested asylum in any EU member state and your application is still being considered.

Under Italian regulation, asylum-seekers cannot leave the country. If you leave and return to Italy, your asylum application procedure may be significantly delayed. If you don’t return, Italian authorities will not consider your asylum application.

You also won’t be able to request this visa if you enter Germany illegally. If you do so, you won’t be able to apply for a temporary residence permit in Germany and would likely be sent back to Italy under the Dublin Regulation.

I’m a skilled worker and am a holder of 2- or 5-year permesso in Italy. Once this bill comes into force, will I be able to go work in Germany?

Even if you meet the visa requirements mentioned above, you will not be able to request this work visa if you sought asylum in any EU member state.

You also won’t be able to request this visa if you enter Germany illegally. If you do so, you won’t be able to apply for a temporary residence permit in Germany and would likely be sent back to Italy under the Dublin Regulation.

Holders of 2- or 5-year permesso cannot use their permesso as an identity document to work outside of Italy legally. If you work in Germany, you will be working illegally and you may not be able to renew your Italian permesso di soggiorno.

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I'm a recognized refugee in Italy and am still studying. Once this bill comes into force, will I be able to go study in Germany?

According to the bill adopted by the German cabinet, if you have refugee status or subsidiary protection in Italy and want to study in Germany, you may be able to apply for a temporary residence permit. You will need to prove:

  • You’ve been enrolled in higher education for at least 2 years in Italy or another EU country.
  • You’ve been accepted by a German university to complete your studies or conduct research.

With this permit, you could only stay in Germany until you finish your university course or research. Asylum-seekers cannot apply.

Is there a legal way for me to go work or study in Germany now?

If you have been living in Italy for at least 5 years and have one of the below permessi, you can apply for the Permesso UE per Soggiornanti di Lungo Periodo, or EU long-stay permit.

The EU long-stay permit is the only legal way you can work in an EU country other than Italy without losing your status in Italy. You can learn more about this permit here.

If you have any other questions, you can always message us on Facebook.

Cover Image: Wolfgang Rattay / REUTERS