international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

Germany: Changes to the German Immigration Act for Skilled Workers have come into Force

Authors: Verena Braeckeler-Kogel, MAES (Basel) and Meike Christine Rehner

The second stage of the new Immigration Act for Skilled Workers came into force on 1 March 2024. The new regulations make it easier to employ skilled workers with professional experience from outside the EU. Furthermore, short-term employment of foreign workers is possible in sectors with high demand.

These new regulations concern, among other things, residence for the recognition of a foreign professional qualification. Even if their qualification is not formally recognized in Germany, foreign skilled workers are permitted to work in non-regulated professions in Germany. Prerequisites are at least two years of professional experience and a vocational or university degree recognized by the state in the country of origin. In these cases, the employer must comply with a salary threshold or be bound by a collective agreement. For those with professional experience, the foreign professional qualification no longer has to be recognized in Germany.

If the professional qualification still needs to be officially acknowledged—for example, in many healthcare and nursing professions – the procedure can now only be started after entry into Germany. Employees and employers conclude an agreement on this, the so-called recognition partnership. As part of the recognition partnership, employers and employees undertake to carry out the recognition procedure quickly when a visa is issued. In addition to an employment contract, a professional qualification of at least two years is required.

Moreover, there is now the possibility of contingent short-term employment for sectors with particularly high demand. The quota is set by the Federal Employment Agency and amounts to 25,000 foreign workers for 2024. Prerequisites include employment in Germany of at least 30 hours per week, the company’s commitment to a collective agreement and remuneration in line with the applicable collective agreement provisions, as well as the assumption of travel expenses by the company.

Practical Points

  • The new regulations on professional experience and foreign qualifications mean significant simplifications and therefore shorter procedures.
  • The recognition partnership offers advantages for both sides: The employee can obtain additional qualifications, work from day one and thus gain professional experience and job-related German language skills. The employer can employ a pre-qualified skilled worker faster.