Germany has announced the easing of the immigration processes, something that would facilitate the entry of non-European skilled individuals seeking to develop their professional careers. On January 17th, at a press conference held at the Federal Office for Foreign Affairs, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stated that streamlining the visa process would mean “turning it upside down”.
One of the government’s goals is to pare down bureaucracy, as well as to improve the efficiency of the system. The new immigration process will be done through a points system comparable to the US Green Card. The great novelty is that it will enable non-European citizens to enter Germany to look for work without the need to have an endorsement from a German employer. “The efficiency of our economy and the efficiency of our social security systems can only be guaranteed if we have enough skilled workers at our disposal,” said Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
The permit, known as “Opportunity Card” or chancenkarte, is intended for those who have a technical or professional degree with experience, are under 35 years of age and have knowledge of the German language. It is not expected to be available until at least the end of 2023.
We know that we can only guarantee our future if we have enough skilled workers.Olaf Scholz, Germany’s Federal Chancellor
In order to obtain the permit, it is necessary to be able to demonstrate sufficient funds to cover the job search period, which is one full year. During this time and while looking for a permanent job, it is possible to do temporary and occasional work. According to Euronews, three out of four of the following criteria must be met to apply for the scheme:
- A degree or vocational training recognized by Germany
- Three years’ professional experience
- Language skills or a previous stay in Germany
- 35 years old or younger
German companies’ need for a new workforce is urgent, according to data from the country’s business associations. About 56% of German companies see their business endangered by a shortage of human resources, so the country is looking to add about 250,000 employees.
“For many companies, the search for skilled labor is an existential question,” stressed German Labor Minister Hubertus Heil. German authorities drew up a document stating that Germany must be seen as “an attractive immigration country in the international competition for skilled workers,” according to Radio France Internationale.
To attract foreigners, Germany would offer through this program an authorization of multiple citizenship and the simplification of naturalization. Non-EU citizens could become a naturalized German citizen “after only five years of residence and three years in cases of particularly successful integration”.
There are experts, however, who criticize the proposed system for still being too bureaucratic, and for emphasizing degrees and certificates and not the practical skills of the applicants, given that the country’s economy is in a critical situation due to the labor shortage it needs to solve.
According to data from the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich (IFO), the hospitality and event industries have been particularly affected. Euronews reports that warehousing and storage, service providers, and manufacturing have also suffered from staff shortages.