German Parliament Passes Skilled Work Immigration Law Reform

 


The German parliament has approved a new immigration law reform aimed at creating more opportunities for job seekers from non-EU countries and refugees residing in Germany. Conservative lawmakers have expressed opposition to the reform.

On Friday (June 23), the Bundestag finally passed a legislation to encourage individuals from outside the European Union to come to Germany for employment.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) presented the government's plan, emphasizing that the draft law would secure prosperity in Germany. However, Faeser acknowledged that the successful implementation of the law would require dismantling bureaucratic hurdles.

Faeser cited the excessive administrative burden, such as having to fill in 17 different applications to bring a new care worker into the country, as unacceptable and in need of improvement.

While the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) alliance welcomed some of the government's proposals, they criticized plans to lower the qualification requirements for foreign workers. According to Andrea Lindholz of the CSU, reducing the level of German language skills required would attract low-skilled workers.

Lindholz argued that the new law failed to address the main problem of bureaucratic bottlenecks, such as lengthy procedures at foreign consulates.

Moreover, Lindholz expressed concerns about the potential of turning the asylum process into a state-funded job-seeking opportunity in Germany by opening opportunities for asylum seekers already in the country.

The far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) member, Norbert Kleinwächter, strongly opposed the draft law, suggesting that it would degrade Germany into a "junk country" (Ramschland). He criticized the government's plan, claiming that it essentially allowed everyone to enter the country without any checks or restrictions.

In response to the AfD's criticisms, Lamya Kaddor of the Green Party dismissed the importance of German language skills as the primary prerequisite for working in Germany. She sarcastically addressed the right-wing ranks in the house, highlighting that integration is best achieved when individuals have to speak German at work. Kaddor expressed enthusiasm about the new law, stating that it represented positive progress for Germany in competition with other successful immigration countries like the US and Canada.

The Free Democratic Party (FDP), representing the neoliberal part of the German government's three-party coalition, underscored the economic benefits anticipated from the new law. They criticized the current situation where it is easier to immigrate into the asylum system rather than the job market in Germany. The FDP believes the new law will rectify this issue.

One significant innovation introduced by the law is the "opportunity card" and associated points system, allowing foreigners without a confirmed job to come to Germany for a year to seek employment. The card requires applicants to have a vocational qualification or university degree. Points will be awarded based on criteria such as language skills in German and/or English, ties to Germany, and the potential inclusion of life partners or spouses in the German labor market. The opportunity card also permits part-time work for up to 20 hours a week while searching for a qualified job, as well as probationary employment.

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