Expanded Skilled-Workers Act – Nov 23

(will gradually come into force & effect commencing from November 2023)

Brief overview of the planned changes to the new Skilled Workers Act. It provides for a 3-pillar model: Skilled Worker Column, Experience Pillar and Potential Pillar. The central element is to remain the pillar of skilled workers.

  • Lowered salary limits for the EU Blue Card in regular and bottleneck occupations. In the future, a minimum salary of 39,682.80 euros (2023) will apply to bottleneck occupations and young professionals. For all other professions, a minimum salary of 43,800.00 euros applies.


  • Extended group of people: For example, foreign academics who have obtained a university degree within the last 3 years can receive an EU Blue Card if they achieve a minimum salary of 39,682.80 euros with the job in Germany. This applies to bottleneck as well as regular occupations. A specifically offered employment contract only has to be at least 6 months and not 12 months.


  •   IT specialists: Another new feature is that IT specialists will be able to obtain an EU Blue Card in the future if they do not have a university degree but can prove at least 2 years of comparable professional experience and special knowledge. In this case, the lower salary threshold for bottleneck occupations (39,682.80 euros) also applies. Knowledge of German is not required. This regulation allows programmers without an IT degree to find employment.


  • Pillar of experience: Even without their degree being formally recognized in Germany, foreign skilled workers will be allowed to work in non-regulated professions in Germany in the future. This means significant simplifications and thus shorter procedures. However, a salary threshold must be adhered to or there must be a collective bargaining agreement. (This is to prevent qualified specialists from working in the low-wage sector). The prerequisite is at least 2 years of professional  experience as well as a professional qualification recognized in the country of origin with at least 2 years of training. As an alternative to a state-recognized professional qualification, a degree from a German Chamber of Commerce Abroad is sufficient under certain conditions.


  • Skilled workers with vocational training: In the future, they will be entitled to a residence permit if all requirements are met.


  • The list of bottleneck occupations will be significantly expanded. In addition to the current bottleneck occupations (mathematics, computer science, natural sciences, engineering and human medicine), skilled workers in other occupational groups will also be able to  obtain an EU Blue Card in the future if the other requirements are met.


  • The opportunity card (Chancenkarte) is expected to be available around the first half of 2024 and focuses on human potential. The opportunity card is based on a points system and the following selection criteria: qualifications, German and English language skills, professional experience, connection to Germany, age and the potential of the spouse or partner involved. It allows entry for  an initial period of up to one year in order to look for a job locally. Even during the job search, employment of up to 20 hours per week is permitted, as is trial employment with a future employer for up to 2 weeks. Once you have found a job, you can get the appropriate residence permit to work and receive an extension of the opportunity card for up to 2 more years if the Federal Employment Agency agrees. Skilled workers with full recognition receive the opportunity card without any further requirements. All others must provide proof of a qualified professional or university degree recognized by the state in the country of training. Alternatively, under certain conditions, it is possible to obtain a degree from a German Chamber of Commerce Abroad. In addition, either basic knowledge of German at level A1 CEFR or English language skills at level A2 CEFR are required. In addition, at least 6 points must be achieved according to a point system.


  • Quota-based short-term employment is created for sectors with particularly high demand (healthcare, childcare, IT professions, construction and finishing occupations and many other production and service occupations). Anyone who comes via this route is allowed to work in Germany for 8 months, regardless of their qualifications. The prerequisite is an employer bound by collective bargaining agreements. Employment will be subject to compulsory insurance from day one and the weekly working time will be at least 30 hours. In addition, the employee undertakes to pay the necessary travel costs in full.


  • The possibilities for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications will also be expanded.  It remains important to note that professional recognition is still required for employment in regulated professions. New from spring 2024 for the stay for  professional recognition: Anyone who takes part in an adaptation qualification or compensatory measure in Germany can enter the country for this purpose and stay for up to a maximum of 3 years in the future. If the competent authority proposes a qualification analysis in the recognition procedure, the prospective skilled worker will be able to enter the country in the future and stay for up to 6 months.  The prerequisite here is that the specialist can prove German language skills at least at level A2.


  • Recognition partnership with regard to professional recognition: The recognition partnership is an agreement under private law (concluded in written or text form) between employer and foreign employee, and there must also be a concrete job offer or an employment contract. As a result, persons from third countries can first enter the country and then carry out the entire recognition procedure in Germany. The future skilled worker can then take up employment in Germany from day one, even though their professional qualification has not yet been recognized, insofar as this is permitted by professional law. The prerequisite is that the foreign skilled worker must have state-recognized  vocational training of at least 2 years in the respective home country or a state-recognized foreign university degree. The specialist must also be proficient in German language skills at A2 level. The mentioned above also applies if qualification measures are still necessary. Employees and employers undertake  to apply for the recognition procedure after entry and to carry out the procedure, including qualification, quickly and actively. In addition, the employer must have sufficient up-to-date experience with training and post-qualification.


  • Training and employment no longer have to be related:  skilled workers with a qualified vocational qualification or university degree  recognized in Germany  are now  allowed to pursue any qualified employment in the non-regulated sector. The restriction to the profession of one’s own qualification does not apply. (a physicist can work as a programmer, for example).


  • Settlement permit: Skilled workers who are in possession of a residence permit for the purpose of qualified employment can usually be granted a settlement permit after 3 years . Holders of an EU Blue Card can be granted permanent residence after only 27 months. This period is shortened if the foreign skilled worker has knowledge of the German language at B1 level.