Germany to Relax Immigration Rules to Address Shortage of Skilled Workers

The new proposed law allows job seekers from outside the European Union to come to Germany for six months and find employment if they fulfill eligibility criteria.


Three German parties, which are part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government, have agreed to new laws for relaxation of immigration rules to attract foreign job-seekers to the country. Germany is facing a shortage of skilled workers, resulting in massive job vacancies across industries.

A deal was arrived at after marathon talks held between Merkel’s center-right CDU party, and allies CSU, and center-left SPD agreed to a compromise to tackle workers’ shortage in the fast-aging country by allowing non-EU citizens with job qualifications and knowledge of German language to work in the country.

The new proposal allows migrants with required skills to work and stay in the country. German companies will be allowed to hire foreign workers in all industries, irrespective of whether the sector suffers from labor shortage.

Migrants who don’t have residency permits but are awaiting decisions on their asylum applications or deportation may get to stay back if they are gainfully employed and assure the government that they will merge with the German society, news agency AFP reported.

According to the proposal, the government will no longer insist that companies give preference to German citizens in filling vacancies before looking for non-EU foreigners, according to the Nation Online website. Foreign graduates and workers with vocational training will also get an opportunity to live in Germany for six months to look for a position if they meet certain job qualifications and German language requirements.

Job-seekers from outside the European Union, including, for example, cooks, metallurgy workers, or IT technicians, can also come to Germany for six months to try to find job, provided they speak German, AFP said, adding that these workers will, however, not get access to Germany’s social security system and must prove that they have enough financial resources to fund their stay.

According to the proposed law, non-EU citizens without higher education or, preferably, a concrete job offer, will not be able to live in Germany, Reuters reported. “We do not want any immigration from unqualified third-country nationals,” the deal says, according to the report.

It, however, recognizes the need for more highly-qualified employees. “Skilled workers from abroad are already making an important contribution to the competitiveness of the German economy,” the news agency cited the paper as stating.

The coalition government said that manpower from the EU bloc of around 500 million people would not be enough to keep German businesses running. “That’s why we need workers from third countries,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said at a press conference.

The proposal has to be passed by the German parliament before it is implemented.

Among all European countries, Germany has had the maximum influx of immigrants escaping from war in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan due to its proactive immigration nature. However, that has now become a hot issue in the country, with political parties rallying against immigration.

However, according to a recent studymost native Germans are okay with having immigrants live in their neighborhood.

Germany has about 161,000 people of Indian origin, including Indian expatriates and German citizens of Indian descent. Lately, the country has become an attractive destination for Indian professionals and students.

The number of qualified professionals from India in Germany is increasing, with a large percentage of blue card holders in the country now coming from India. In the first half of 2016, the top five nationalities that received the European Union (EU) blue cards were India with 22.1 per cent, followed by China (8.7 per cent), the Russian Federation (7.9 per cent), Ukraine (5.3 per cent) and Syria (4.7 per cent), according to the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

The country has also emerged as one of the top destinations for Indian students. The United States was the most preferred destination for university while Australia and the United Kingdom followed, ahead of Canada and Germany, according to the report titled “Value of Education, Higher and Higher” based on a survey by HSBC bank last year.

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