Germany – Delays to New Immigration Law
01 December 2002
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Germany’s Constitutional Court on 23 December 2002 declared void a German Parliament Upper House vote of early 2002, stopping the implementation of the new German immigration law. Germany’s new Immigration Act had been due to come into force on 1 January 2003. The new law would have allowed the entry of thousands more high-skilled workers that are desperately needed by the German economy to fill skill shortage areas.
Six of Germany's conservative-run states had challenged the bill's legality in an appeal to the Constitutional Court. They successfully claimed that one disputed vote in favour of the law in the Bundesrat (Parliament Upper House) should not have counted when the bill was narrowly accepted in March 2002. Officials of the opposition conservative CDU who hold a Bundesrat majority have now declared they would want to see major changes in the law before they will consider it further. Although there is a general consensus among political parties, business and other groups about the necessity of a reformed immigration policy, it is now unlikely that agreement over the reform package will be reached quickly, as the opposition conservatives have argued that Germany should not be encouraging further immigration with an unemployment rate of ten percent.
The new immigration law would have made the German immigration system probably the most liberal in Europe. However, the German Green Card system is still in place, and permits entry of highly skilled IT professionals into Germany very quickly. It is hoped that there will still be significant reforms to the German system and we will keep you informed of future developments.