New regulations on working in Germany
Germany has a shortage of skilled workers. According to figures provided by the Centre of Excellence on Securing Skilled Labour, there are currently 1.2 million job vacancies and 57,000 unfilled apprenticeships in Germany. Demographic development shows that this trend will increase, with 3.9 million fewer workers on the labour market in 2030 than today.
The German Government is therefore taking a multi-pronged approach. In addition to increasing the percentage of women in employment and doing more to include older workers, it has introduced the Skilled Immigration Act to counter the shortage of workers.
The Skilled Immigration Act defines for the first time what is meant by skilled labour (people who hold a university degree or a vocational training qualification) and allows people to work in Germany if their qualifications are recognised and they have a job offer. Answers to the most frequently asked questions on the Skilled Immigration Act are available here.
A faster source of information
A new visa information system was launched at the same time as the entry into force of the Skilled Immigration Act. By asking a few questions, the visa navigator (http://visa.diplo.de) guides users to the type of visa they need. It also provides information on the main requirements for being granted a visa and a link to the correct application form. A further aim of the new system is to speed up the process by providing applicants with better information, thus reducing the number of incomplete applications and time-consuming enquiries.
The visa navigator is the first step towards an entirely online visa application system. The aim is to base this system on an international web portal to be developed in close cooperation with the relevant German authorities. The system will also be used to provide services such as passport applications to Germans resident abroad.
Processing of visa applications in Germany
The number of visa applications has increased significantly in recent years. It is expected that the Skilled Immigration Act will lead to a further increase of 52,000 applications. The Federal Foreign Office has adopted a new course in order to meet this challenge. For the first time, visas are also being processed in Germany, and not only abroad. A new visa unit has been set up in Berlin to this end.
However, the process for applicants initially remains the same. They submit their visa application to the German mission in their country. The applications are then scanned and sent via a secure IT system to Germany, where they are processed digitally. As before, the visa is then handed to the applicant by the German mission abroad.
Shorter waiting times
In the run-up to the entry into force of the Skilled Immigration Act, the Federal Foreign Office intensified its work with visa application centres. This allows people to get an appointment sooner to submit their visa application. Applications from qualified skilled workers are given priority.
The Skilled Immigration Act also creates a fast-track application process for skilled workers in which German employers submit a request for an application to be reviewed by the foreigners authority. During this process, all the requirements under German law are reviewed and preliminary approval is granted. After the applicant presents this preliminary approval, the German mission abroad gives them an appointment within three weeks to submit their visa application. The mission then generally decides whether or not to grant the visa within three weeks of receiving the completed visa application.