Germany: Skilled Worker law
14 November 2023
The initial part of Germany’s new skilled worker law will take effect on 18 November 2023. From that date, changes to the rules for EU Blue Cards will take effect, among some other measures intended to expand access to Germany for skilled workers.
EU Blue Card
To implement the requirements of Directive (EU) 2021/1883, which reforms the EU Blue Card scheme across the EU, the German government has introduced the following changes:
Lower salary thresholds:
The salary thresholds for the EU Blue Card in regular occupations and bottleneck professions will be significantly lowered. In future, a minimum salary of 45.3% of the annual contribution assessment ceiling for pension insurance (in 2023: €39,682.80) will apply to bottleneck professions and new entrants to the labour market; for all other occupations, the figure will be 50% (in 2023: around €43,800).
New entrants to the labour market:
The possibility of obtaining an EU Blue Card will be opened to a wider group of people. For example, foreign nationals who have graduated from university within the last three years can obtain an EU Blue Card if their job in Germany earns them a minimum salary of 45.3% of the annual assessment ceiling for pension insurance (in 2023: €39,682.80). This applies to both bottleneck professions and regular occupations.
Another change is that IT specialists will be able to obtain an EU Blue Card if they do not have a university degree but can prove that they have at least three years of comparable professional experience. In this case, the lower salary threshold for bottleneck professions will apply (45.3% of the annual assessment ceiling; in 2023: €39,682.80).
Extension of the list of bottleneck professions:
The list of bottleneck professions for the EU Blue Card will be significantly expanded. Here, too, the lower salary threshold for bottleneck professions will apply (45.3% of the annual assessment ceiling; in 2023: €39,682.80). In addition to the existing bottleneck professions (mathematics, IT, science, engineering, and human medicine), skilled workers in the following occupations will be able to obtain an EU Blue Card if they meet the other requirements:
- Manufacturing, mining, construction, or distribution managers
- Information and communications technology service managers
- Professional services managers, such as child care or health services managers
- Nursing or midwifery professionals
- School and out-of-school teachers and educators.
Short-term and long-term mobility:
Holders of an EU Blue Card issued by another EU Member State will be entitled to short-term and long-term mobility in Germany. For a maximum stay of 90 days, Blue Card holders from other EU countries will be able come to Germany and stay for the purpose of a business activity directly related to their employment. Neither a visa nor a work permit from the Federal Employment Agency (BA) is required for such short stays.
After a minimum stay of twelve months with an EU Blue Card in another EU country, long-term residence in Germany is possible without a visa. After entering Germany, the professional must apply to the foreigners authority for a German EU Blue Card.
Facilitated family reunification for EU Blue Card holders:
EU Blue Card holders who have already lived in another EU Member State with their family will be entitled to privileged family reunification. If these family members require a visa due to their nationality, they will be entitled to enter and reside in Germany as family members of an EU Blue Card holder with the residence permit issued in the previous Member State without having to undergo a visa procedure beforehand. When a residence permit is issued in Germany, the requirements of sufficient living space and the requirement to secure one’s livelihood will no longer apply.
Further changes from 18 November 2023
The restriction that individuals may only work on the basis of the skills acquired with the professional qualification will be removed. In other words, if applicants have a vocational qualification or a university degree, they are not restricted to jobs related to that qualification when looking for employment. There are exceptions for regulated professions.
Also, the granting of approval by the Federal Employment Agency for employing professional drivers from third countries is to be simplified. As a result, it will no longer be checked whether the applicant has the required EU or EEA driving licence and the initial qualification or accelerated initial qualification. In addition, the priority check will be abolished and language skills will no longer be a requirement.
Further changes, listed here, are due to be implemented in March or June 2024.
Streamlined document issuance
Effective 1 November 2023, individuals can now confirm the receipt of the PIN letter for their online ID card via text message. This allows identity cards, passports and electronic residence permits to be picked up at document dispensing machines, if these machines are available onsite. An in-person appointment for the collection of the documents at a government office is then no longer necessary.
With the PIN of their online ID card, individuals can safely access over 200 online services from government authorities and companies from anywhere.
Further changes will be implemented by spring 2025:
- Individuals will receive their PIN letter directly when submitting their application, rather than by post.
- In addition, on request and for a fee, they can have the requested identification documents sent directly by the manufacturer to their registration address – this also eliminates the appointment for the collection of new identity documents.
- From May 2025, only digital biometric photographs will be used for new documents. The photographs must be taken either at government offices or by photographers. The biometric photographs will then always comply with international requirements.
Support with German immigration
If you are looking to work in Germany and require support with the immigration process, Smith Stone Walters can help.
Our team of immigration advisors based at our new Frankfurt office can assist you every step of the way, from assessing your eligibility to filing the visa application on your behalf. To find out how we can help, please contact us today.