Working in Germany: New Rules for Non-EU Nationals

Working in Germany: New Rules for Non-EU Nationals


Non-EU nationals wishing to work in Germany will now be subject to easier procedures and facilitated rules due to the new German Skilled Immigration Act, which has taken effect on March 2, 2020.

The new regulation, which among others makes it possible to gain employment in Germany even in jobs that could be filled by Germans or EU nationals, and permits foreigners to come to Germany for up to half a year to seek work, intends to provide easier access to the German labour market for qualified workers from non-EU countries.

It also aims to increase the numbers of the workforce in Germany, as many positions remain vacant due to lack of skills and workers.

Below, we have listed and explained the main changes to the rules related to working in Germany as a qualified non-EU national.

Qualified Professionals According to the New Law

The newly implemented law has expanded the list of those that are now considered as qualified professionals for moving to Germany for work.

Under the new law, in addition to those with a tertiary education degree, non-EU nationals holding a vocational training qualification, obtained after a training course that lasted at least two years, are also considered as qualified professionals, and as such are eligible to seek for work in Germany.

In addition, the worker must meet the following conditions in order to be able to legally work in Germany:

  • He/she must have their foreign qualification officially recognised by the relevant authority in Germany.
  • He/she should have a job contract/offer from an employer in Germany, in their field of professionalism.

As per the last conditions, through previously non-EU workers were not permitted to get a job that a German or EU national worker could fill, this is not the case anymore. The Federal Employment Agency no longer carries out priority checks in this regard.

Moreover, the new rules expand the fields of employment for foreign workers, permitting them to work in an occupation related to their profession that is not necessarily their field of study.

They can also work in jobs for which a tertiary education degree is not compulsory (qualified professionals with academic degrees only), as well as in other professions related to their qualification, for which a vocational, non-academic qualification is usually required, excluding auxiliary and semi-skilled occupations.

As per qualified professionals with vocational qualifications, i.e. non-academic training, their employment is no longer restricted to occupations for which there is a lack of skilled EU nationals.

Six-Month Visas to Search for Work in Germany

Moving to Germany for a maximum of six months to seek for a job is now possible for non-EU nationals that have their qualifications recognized by the relevant body in Germany.

Foreign workers that have enough funds to support themselves for the duration of their stay and German knowledge of at least B1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages can apply for Germany Jobseeker Visa.

The visa permits its holder to work for a maximum of 10 hours within a week, so a potential he/she and their potential employer can find out if they are suited to each other.

Training and Skill Development in Germany

Persons who required from a relevant body in Germany to undertake the recognition procedure whilst abroad, and they received a negative answer that their qualification does not completely meet the requirements of a German qualification now have a choice.

They can come to Germany with a visa for Training and Skill Development, under the condition that they have the necessary German language skills, A2 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

A visa as this one, leads to a residence permit valid of 18 months, extendable for another 4 months, and the possibility to apply for a residence permit for training, study or work, by the end of its validity.

Coming to Germany as a Trainee

Non-EU students younger than 25, with a B2 level of German language knowledge and the ability to financially support themselves can seek a training place in Germany due to the new rules.

Though, they must present a school-leaving certificate from a German school abroad or a school leaving certificate which grants a person with the right to receive higher education.

With a residence permit for a vocational training course, a foreigner can also attend a German language course, either general or occupation-related.

Students Can Now Change Residence Status More Easily

Students in Germany wishing to switch their residence status, have the chance to do so easier than before.

These students can begin a vocational training and get a residence permit to attend a vocational training course, instead of continuing studies.

Or they can get a job as a qualified professional whilst still studying or receiving vocational training (under certain preconditions).

As per foreigners who have successfully completed a vocational training course in Germany, they can apply to receive a permanent settlement permit upon a period of two years in the country, the same period as applies to graduates.

What Changes for Companies Hiring Non-EU Workers?

Companies hiring workers outside the EU can now follow facilitated procedures and rules after the new law came into effect on Monday. The facilitations created include expedited procedures for qualified professionals through the relevant foreigner’s registration office in Germany.

Firstly, the hiring company and the foreigner’s registration office reach an agreement. This agreement must include the procedures, parties, deadlines, and powers of attorney. It should also state the obligations for the employer, the qualified professional and the relevant authorities.

Secondly, the foreigner’s registration office gets the approval of the Federal Employment Agency, within certain deadlines.

The office then issues to the employer an advance approval if all conditions are met. The employer then passes approval on to the qualified professional.

The qualified person shall then follow the procedures for getting an employment visa for Germany from their country of residence.

E-Sports Visa

Athletes and coaches of esports can also apply for a visa, according to the new rules, which visa will permit them to come to Germany and obtain residence permits for employment.

The approval of the German Federal Employment Agency will not be required in this case either. Applicants will need to meet several conditions, as they must be above 16 and have a salary of at least 50 per cent of the income threshold of the statutory pension insurance.

In addition, the German Sports Federation and the responsible central association for the sport, by mutual agreement confirm the athlete’s athletic qualification or the coach’s professional competence.


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