The Immigration Act for Skilled Workers
Good skilled workers are an asset for Germany: The new Immigration Act for Skilled Workers (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz – FEG) is a milestone of the Federal Government when it comes to boosting the immigration of qualified individuals from abroad. The Act came into force on 1 March 2020.
This leads to changes in the legal provisions governing the residence and immigration of skilled workers from third countries. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees is involved in the process in a variety of ways, and thus also plays an important role here as a centre of excellence on migration.
Under the heading Migration & residence, the Federal Office’s homepage offers an overview of the legal requirements for entry to and residence in Germany in accordance with the Immigration Act for Skilled Workers. In addition to immigrants, companies and authorities can also obtain advice on the new provisions regarding entry and residence, professional recognition and language training from the Working and Living in Germany hotline (ALiD).
With regard to the law on residence, the Federal Office is operationally active as the National Contact Point for EU Mobility with regard to the EU Blue Card, ICT (intra-corporate transfer), REST (researchers and students), and long-term EU residence. With the entry into force of the Act, the tasks within the framework of ICT and REST will be expanded to include the determination of the prerequisites for mobility, which previously were the responsibility of the immigration authorities. Within the context of research migration, the Federal Office acts as the secretariat of the Advisory Board for Research Migration, and as an office for the recognition of research institutions.
As a central player in integration, the Federal Office provides a wide range of support opportunities for the period after entry into the country.
For instance, the Migration Advice Service for Adults (MBE), which is managed by the Federal Office, offers free advice on issues such as finding accommodation or health insurance. The MBE Advice Centres can be found in many cities in Germany (http://webgis.bamf.de), and can also be reached online at www.mbeon.de. The aim is to expand the MBE’s services to include skilled workers and family members travelling with them. In terms of labour market integration, the “Integration through Skill-Building” (IQ) support programme managed by the Federal Office helps to mobilise the potential of skilled workers. People with a foreign vocational qualification are advised, guided, and if necessary (re)qualified, on issues relating to the recognition of their qualifications. Regional “skilled workers’ networks” are being set up with the support of the Act, and these also include advising employers on how to attract skilled workers.
Moreover, the BAMF also runs the nationwide regulatory instrument for vocational German language promotion, that is the vocational language courses. These courses improve the chances on the labour market of people with a migration background. The target group includes people who are going through the recognition procedure for the vocational or training qualification that they have acquired abroad. The Act is extending the tasks relating to admission to include the vocational language course for people who are preparing for vocational training. Applications from abroad are also made possible for this new target group. You can find information on this in the article entitled “The vocational language courses of the Federal Office”. Family members relocating with them, as well as the skilled workers themselves if required, can also take advantage of language courses from level A1 to level B1 (CEFR) as part of the integration courses. In addition, people who already have language skills at level B1 (CEFR) may attend the orientation course.
The operational tasks of the Federal Office are supplemented by a variety of studies carried out by the Research Centre in which, amongst other things, topics are analysed that are relevant to the immigration of skilled workers. The Federal Government’s annual Migration Report, as well as various monitoring reports, also comprehensively monitor educational and labour migration to Germany. A study entitled Non-academic foreign skilled workers on the German labour market was published in February 2020. A stock-taking exercise carried out prior to the entry into force of the Immigration Act for Skilled Workers considers how the employment of this group of individuals had developed under the previous legal provisions, and what role the vocational training of migrants can play when it comes to attracting skilled workers. It also presents the new provisions contained in the Act, as well as the analyses and forecasts available to date on the demand for skilled workers in Germany.