In the future, the federal government wants to fill the growing gap in skilled workers in Germany with many more workers from abroad. Unlike today, more non-EU citizens should be allowed to enter the country without a recognized qualification. Selection criteria should be professional experience or a connection to Germany. The Federal Cabinet decided on the relevant key points.
Four cabinet members campaigned insistently for the planned law - especially in the Union, which had recently strongly criticized the traffic light's migration policy. Business and trade unions welcomed the plans.
Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) said: "We want specialists to be able to come to Germany and get started quickly." Germany should get the most modern law of its kind in all of Europe. Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) emphasized: "We must want qualified specialists to immigrate, otherwise we will not be guaranteed prosperity and social security in the long term." Heil announced a corresponding campaign.
According to Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens), it should be a law "that points forward, that aggressively promotes a society of many". His FDP colleague Bettina Stark-Watzinger, who is responsible for education, said: "To integrate and stay in Germany permanently - that must be our goal."
The new points system
Probably the biggest change is to make it possible for "third-country nationals with good potential" to enter the country to look for a job. A chance card is to be awarded for this. According to Heil, anyone who meets three out of five criteria should get it. The criteria are: qualifications, language skills, professional experience, connection to Germany and age. But what exactly such a reference should be and how many points there are for which language level is still open. It is considered that multiple trips to Germany, a job with a German employer abroad or relatives in Germany could count.
Non-EU citizens with an opportunity card should be allowed to do a trial job for two weeks while looking for a job. A part-time job with 20 hours a week should also be allowed. Easier immigration to look for a training place should also be examined.
In the future, recognized foreign skilled workers should also be able to work in occupations that have little or nothing to do with their training. For example, a mechanic could be hired as a warehouse clerk or a policewoman as a waitress. Work experience should be given more consideration when issuing a work visa. The qualifications acquired in the country of origin should not necessarily be recognized before entry. Employers should be able to have a greater say in deciding whether they need someone and whether they can stay.
There has been a Skilled Immigration Act since 2020. Skilled workers with foreign vocational training are given the right to stay in Germany for six months to look for a job. An amended EU directive for a "blue card" for highly qualified workers is also about to be implemented. University graduates receive this card. Below the legal level, many things should become faster and easier: More applications should be possible digitally, the Federal Foreign Office wants to make it easier to issue visas. Germany should also become more attractive for students and trainees, as Federal Education Minister Stark-Watzinger announced.
The growing skills gap
In restaurants and pubs, in childcare, in nursing, in crafts, in public administration - according to Heil, skilled workers are desperately needed everywhere. According to Habeck, there are 100,000 vacancies in the IT sector and over 200,000 in the solar and wind energy sector. According to the Institute for Labor Market and Vocational Research, there will be a shortage of seven million skilled workers by 2035. Heil not only warned of a loss of prosperity, but also of gaps in the pension fund if no more people came.
The government intends to introduce its draft law to the Bundestag at the beginning of the year. It is still unclear whether the law requires the approval of the Bundesrat, but it probably will. The Union would have a blocking option via the state chamber, as was the case last time with citizen income. The Union had massively criticized the entire migration course of the traffic light, especially plans to facilitate the naturalization of foreigners already integrated in the country. The parliamentary director Thorsten Frei (CDU) had also rejected the targeted point system. Heil replied: "It is the path of economic reason that we enable qualified immigration to Germany, and I am counting on the fact that the remaining economic expertise of the Union will also help that the other large people's party will go along with it."
reactions to the plans
Employer President Rainer Dulger attested that politicians were setting "the right course". The Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) also welcomed the plans, but called for detailed improvements. Craft President Hans Peter Wollseifer demanded: "The immigration authorities must become "Welcome Centers." IG Metall chairman Jörg Hofmann also said: "Bureaucratic hurdles are hindering immigration today." Anja Piel from the DGB board also rated the points system as "a good idea".