Germany to reform
immigration laws to
attract skilled workers

The cabinet has approved a new legislative proposal to reform German immigration rules to help attract skilled labour from overseas.

Like many European countries, Germany is currently facing a shortage of skilled workers. The number of vacant jobs in Germany reached 1.98 million in the last quarter of 2022, the highest level ever recorded. The labour shortages have forced Berlin to reassess its existing immigration policies and establish a plan to fill gaps with suitably qualified workers from outside the European Union (EU).

By overhauling the immigration rules, the government hopes to make it easier for third country nationals to work in Germany. The draft law estimates that it could increase skilled labour migration from non-EU countries by around 60,000 per year, roughly doubling the pre-COVID pandemic figures of 2019.

After the cabinet approved the reforms, Finance Minister Christian Lindner tweeted: “With this, we are laying the foundation for a new start in migration policy. Anyone who can contribute to the country’s economic success as a skilled worker is welcome.”

Now that the draft law has been cleared by the cabinet, it will need to go through both houses of parliament for approval.

Overview of the reforms

The new bill is part of a comprehensive package of reforms which the ruling coalition says will modernise Germany’s immigration, residency and citizenship laws. The country’s existing skilled labour immigration rules were established in March 2020, in the form of the Skilled Immigration Act.

If approved, the reforms will offer foreign workers three pathways to enter Germany:

  • The first requires a professional qualification or university degree recognised in Germany, and an employment contract.
  • The second requires a minimum of two years’ experience working in a relevant sector, and a degree or vocational training.
  • The third is a new “opportunity card” for individuals who do not have a job offer but have the potential to find work in Germany. The opportunity card will follow a points-based system that considers the applicant’s qualifications, German language skills, professional experience, ties to Germany and age.

Qualified job seekers with degrees or vocational certificates will be allowed to stay in the country for one year as they search for employment. While looking for full time employment, they will be permitted to work up to 20 hours per week.

Further reforms to help attract skilled workers include changes to the EU Blue Card to make it more accessible to specialist with a university degree. IT specialists with relevant job experience will also receive EU Blue Cards even if they do not possess a university degree.

Introducing SSW in Germany

As a result of continued growth and development, Smith Stone Walters is delighted to announce that we are expanding our international reach and opening a new operation in Germany.

Our Frankfurt based team will enable us to meet the growing needs of our European clients even more efficiently and locally facilitate all German inbound immigration work with the highest level of service.

SSW has over 30 years’ experience in German immigration. Our new team in Germany upholds the same service standard our clients have become accustomed to at SSW. To find out more about the services we can offer, please call 0208 461 6660 or email


Disclaimer: In accordance with the German law governing legal advice and services (RDG, section 2 subsection 1) our services do not include any legal advice.

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