Key issues paper on a modern immigration act


German employers to be able to recruit staff from non-EU countries more easily in future

Germany is experiencing a growing demand for skilled workers. In order to tackle this shortage, there are plans to make labour migration for non-EU citizens easier and to attract qualified skilled workers to the German labour market. The German government has now submitted a paper outlining the key points for a modern immigration act to the cabinet for approval. Once the details have been drawn up, the act is expected to be adopted in spring 2023.

How does the paper intend to make recruiting non-EU citizens easier for German companies?

The new strategy is to be based on three pillars – the skilled-labour pillar, experience pillar and potential pillar.

Skilled-labour pillar (1st pillar)

The EU Blue Card, which is already granted to graduates of higher education institutions from abroad if they present an employment contract with an employer (based in Germany) promising gross annual earnings of currently €56,400 is to continue to exist. The Federal Employment Agency does not have to be involved in the process, which speeds up the application procedure. The privileged treatment when employing non-EU citizens in STEM professions, for which a lower salary is sufficient, is also to remain in place. In addition, the intention is that skilled workers with a German vocational qualification or a foreign vocational qualification recognised in Germany will in future be able to obtain a residence permit allowing them to take up “suitable” employment.

What is new is that these skilled workers will no longer need higher education or professional qualifications that are “suitable” for a particular job in Germany. Instead, they will be able to work in any occupation, regardless of what field they are qualified in. The contents of their qualifications no longer have to match their intended employment. A trained teacher will then also be able to work as a financial analyst or a chemist as an HR manager.

Experience pillar (2nd pillar)

The plan is that non-EU foreigners with at least two years’ professional experience and professional qualifications recognised in their home country should be able to obtain a residence permit more easily in future. For IT workers, who already do not need recognised professional qualifications, the threshold for gross salary will be lowered in future (at the moment IT workers must have a gross yearly salary of at least €50,760). They will also no longer have to prove their German language skills.

Potential pillar (3rd pillar)

In future, it will also be possible for any foreigners who are interested in doing so to migrate to Germany with a “Chancenkarte” (opportunity card) in order to be able to look for a job here. The criteria for acquiring an opportunity card will include a foreign (higher education) qualification, professional experience, language skills or a previous stay in Germany. The specific requirements will only be finalised once the cabinet has approved the key issues paper in the subsequent legislative process.


It is to be hoped that the specific features of these measures designed to simplify the immigration process will also lead to faster decisions being made by the authorities in practice during the application process. A welcome development would be shorter procedures, especially bearing in mind that personnel planning often happens at short notice. In view of the current staff shortages (also at the authorities handling the applications), a simplified process would certainly mean that things would be speeded up and administrative staff’s workloads would be reduced.