German immigration law targets skilled workers
13 January 2005
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New rules in Germany effective from January 1 will make entering and staying in Germany easier for skilled migrants, while keeping tight restrictions on unskilled immigration, the broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DE) reports
According to DE, the new law is the result of a compromise between the German government and opposition, and tries to address two conflicting economic issues. On the one hand, it continues a process of liberalizing migration for skilled workers who are needed due to Germany's ageing population and shortage of skilled workers, especially in information technology. On the other hand, with one of the highest unemployment rates in the EU, many politicians don't want to allow unrestricted access for immigrants.
Accordingly, life will be easier for highly qualified immigrants. Under German green card rules introduced in 2000, foreign IT experts had to leave Germany after five years, but now they will be allowed to remain permanently. Also, foreigners graduating from German universities will be able to look for work over one year if they wish to remain. Another innovation is allowing immigration for persons investing at least 1 million euros and employing ten workers. And to reduce bureaucracy, potential immigrants will be able to obtain their work and residence permits at one location, such as the German embassy in their home country.
On the other hand, citizens of countries from outside the European Union will still not be allowed to perform simple jobs, unless they are subject to special regulations such as seasonal contracts. And the seven-year restriction on the free movement of labour for the ten countries that joined the EU in May 2004 will remain in place.
In response to claims that newcomers are not integrating into Germany, the government has allocated 200 million euros for state-funded German language courses for all immigrants. This service was previously available only to ethnic Germans emigrating from the former Soviet Union. But this group will now have to pass a language test before being allowed to settle in Germany.