By Moustafa Daly
Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is enduring one of its worst labor shortages in decades, which is effectively hampering its economy’s ability to grow in a sustained manner. It’s estimated that it needs at least 400,000 immigrants every year to fill in the gap, and its government is moving to attempt to solve this issue.
A new immigration law that aims to relax obstacles faced by non-EU migrants seeking to relocate to the country was approved by the German cabinet last week. The government estimates that the bill would boost skilled-labor migration by about 60,000 migrants per year by giving foreign talent a simplified access to Germany’s labor market.
“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,” tweeted Germany’s Finance Minister Christian Lindner following the bill approval.
Pathways to German residency under the new law
Foreign workers in Germany, under the new law, now have one of three ways to enter and seek employment in the country. Notably, one of them doesn’t require foreign workers to have obtained a job offer or employment contract. For this pathway, applicants who showcase potential to find work can be allowed entry with an ‘opportunity card’ that gives them the right to reside and seek employment in Germany.
Applicants will be assessed on a point-based system that considers their qualifications and experience, language skills, age, and connection to Germany, if any.
The second and most straightforward pathway is open to applicants with an employment contract and a professional or university degree recognized in Germany. This route leads to an EU blue card, which gives its holders social and economic rights and a path to citizenship.
The current salary threshold to qualify for the EU blue card in Germany is 56,400 euros. The new law lowers the threshold for professions suffering acute shortages, particularly in sciences, medicine, and IT, to a gross annual of €43.992.
Also, the new law makes it easier for EU blue card holders to change employers within Germany, even if their EU cards were issued by another country. It also now requires no German language skills for those who have valid employment contracts.
“For holders of an EU Blue Card, changing employers will be simplified and regulations will be created for holders of an EU Blue Card issued by another member state of the EU for exercising short- and long-term intra-EU mobility in the Federal Republic of Germany,” reads the cabinet-approved bill.
The third route to gaining access to Germany is open to those with two years of experience in a relevant industry and/or vocational training – which they can use to get job-seeking visas.
"If people bring professional experience or personal potential with them, we will make it possible for them to gain a foothold in our labour market," said Germany’s Interior Minister Nancy Faeser following the announcement.
Germany’s labor shortage is detrimental to the economy
The new law, seen by many as overdue, is attempting to tackle the labor issue that is bound to have dire costs on the country’s economy. A recent report by the country’s economy ministry concluded that the labor shortage is acutely affecting local businesses’ ability to grow. "More than 50% of companies see this as the greatest threat to their business development," read the report.
In the fourth quarter of 2022, as per labor ministry data, vacant jobs amounted to almost 2 million, a historical record that further showcases the severity of the issue.
Powered by Froala Editor