Skilled or Ready to Learn? Germany Wants You
A 25-year-old Nigerian economics graduate left his job to study for his Master’s degree in Germany. No one, including him, had any doubts about what would happen next. He would finish the Master’s degree in flying colours and immediately proceed to do a PhD, just like his boss whom he really admired. As it turned out, he learnt to write computer programmes while surfing the internet in his free time. He got a job and a 4-year residence permit even before completing his Master’s. He was lured by Germany’s need for skilled labour. Why spend four years on a PhD programme when you can immediately start earning almost as much as a General Manager in a Nigerian bank while working as a fully legitimate immigrant? Germany has now, with the Skilled Immigration Act, made this route to legitimate immigration much easier. Aspiring immigrants to Germany from Non-EU countries like Nigeria don’t even need a university degree; they can emigrate to Germany through the programme once they have basic qualifications such as a minimum of two years Vocational Training and are ready to learn a skill when they arrive in Germany.
Germany, with a GDP of $4.04 trillion, is by far Europe’s largest economy (the United Kingdom, France and Italy occupying the next three spots with GDPs of $2.91 trillion, $2.89 trillion and $2.03 trillion respectively) but it has, at 8.221 births per thousand people per year, the lowest birthrate in Europe (the three highest being Ireland with 16.876, France with 13.013 and Norway with 12.20). The low birthrate has led to a shortage of workers which the German industry leaders and government agree poses a threat to economic growth.
According to the DIHK (Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce), “Labor shortages are threatening to undermine Germany’s economic recovery as companies struggle to fill around 1.6 million vacancies”. A research conducted by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research shows that this skill shortage could result in businesses losing out on £27 billion in revenue. And the only solution would be to close the labour gap by moving in half a million skilled workers into Germany every year.
The new Skilled Immigration Act, “Fachkräftezuwanderungsgesetz”, will allow foreigners with specific skills to apply for work visas and migrate to Germany using legal channels.
Despite being relatively straightforward, the application process can be a bit time-consuming, ranging from a duration of 10 to 12 months. Applicants are advised to seek the guidance of a consultant with first-hand experience in the process and deep knowledge of Germany’s immigration rules.
For a thorough look at the new policy, Arbiterz sat with Adedamola Oloketuyi, CEO, AOC Schengen, who is a study-in-Germany expert. He also runs a school search engine that allows students to submit applications to schools directly across different countries.
Who is regarded as a Skilled Worker?
Based on the new legislation, the category “skilled worker” would not be restricted to individuals with a University or College degree but would also accommodate individuals who have acquired a minimum of two years Vocational Training which is recognised as equal to a German degree. Interested applicants can visit the German offical website, to check their eligibility status.
What Does the Law Entail?
- The Skilled Immigration Act by the German government aims to exploit the possibilities for workers with relevant vocational and non-vocational trainings from non-EU countries to migrate to Germany and pick up high-demand jobs such as IT consultants, software developers, electrical engineers, nurses, telecommunications agents, geriatric nurses, etc.
- The law stipulates that any person who is able to secure an employment in Germany would be issued a four-year work permit or the duration of their contract and after four years can proceed to apply for a permanent residence.
- Those without a job contract would be given a six-month jobseekers’ visa, as long as their professional skills are relevant to areas urgently needed by the German labour market and can meet the eligibility requirements – proof of funds to support themselves in the country and proficiency in the German language.
- Foreigners seeking to gain professional qualifications or a University degree in Germany would be awarded 2-year working visas after successful completion of their studies. After working for two years they can apply for permanent residence.
- Skilled professionals in the low-skill industries (medicine, IT, Engineering, etc) don’t necessarily need their certificates recognised by the German authorities as long as they can provide proof of a minimum of five years’ working experience.
- The new legislation also allows employers by-pass the Vorrangprüfung (priority check) rule that gives job placement priority to German or EU nationals on the skilled job levels. However, employers are obliged to take on financial responsibility for up to one year, including repatriation costs, for an employee whose contract has expired and who refuses to leave Germany voluntarily.
- Foreign skilled workers above 45 years in age have to prove they can earn a minimum of €3,685 every month in their new German job or possess enough retirement funds to be eligible for a work visa.
- Qualified foreign workers would be allowed to bring along with them their spouses and children below eighteen years of age to Germany, with the additional clause that they show proof of financial support for each family mmeber as they would not be entitled to receive any state benefits like social welfare payments.
This new Legislative Act will create the avenue for skilled workers from non-EU countries with non-EU academic/vocational training to migrate to Germany with their families in search of better job opportunities.