Expanding skilled labor immigration - implementing immigration law in a more practical way
Securing skilled workers and the workforce is one of the key challenges of the coming years and decades. In order to maintain Germany's competitiveness in the future, we are dependent on more skilled workers and employees from abroad. We must tackle the structural challenges of labor immigration now.
The future of Germany as a business location depends to a decisive degree on a well-qualified workforce. A coherent and balanced overall strategy is also necessary to secure skilled workers in the medium to long term, which must include the development of all domestic potential and, as a further component, also the recruitment of qualified foreign skilled workers. For companies operating internationally, it is also of central importance that they can deploy their personnel flexibly and unbureaucratically across national borders.
EU internal migration dominant so far
To date, the majority of immigration into the labor market has taken place within the framework of internal EU mobility (approx. 55% in 2020). A downward trend has already been observed in this area in recent years. In the future, the potential for EU immigration will continue to decline, as many EU countries are facing similar demographic challenges. There, too, there is a decline in the working-age population. Therefore, the focus and recruitment efforts must increasingly be directed to third countries, i.e., countries outside the EU.
Focus more strongly on skilled workers from third countries
The Skilled Workers Immigration Act, which came into force in March 2020, has created improvements and new immigration opportunities for persons from third countries. Further developments are planned for this legislative period. The BDA has made concrete proposals in its "Ten-Point Plan for Labor Migration." It is important to send a signal both internally and externally that Germany wants to attract foreign skilled workers to the labor market. Despite the many reforms to immigration law in recent years, however, comparatively few skilled workers from non-EU countries still come to Germany. In the task of creating and maintaining a welcoming culture that makes immigration to Germany even more attractive for particularly qualified skilled workers, German industry also sees itself as having a responsibility.
Improve practical implementation of immigration law regulations
Any law is only as good as its practical implementation. For some years now, it has been apparent that it is above all the practical problems in the administrative implementation of immigration law that at least impede, and in some cases even prevent, more skilled workers from immigrating to Germany.
Long waiting times at foreign missions, complicated and lengthy procedures, and suboptimal cooperation between the various authorities and agencies mean that the legal immigration regulations cannot fully achieve their intended effect in practice. The complexity and lack of transparency of the immigration procedure becomes particularly clear when one considers the 195 pages of application instructions for the Skilled Workers Immigration Act issued by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the 390 pages of administrative regulations for the Residence Act, the 669-page visa manual issued by the Federal Foreign Office, and the 182 pages of technical instructions issued by the Federal Employment Agency on the Residence Act and the Employment Ordinance. Here, it is necessary to create free capacities in the authorities through simplifications in order to administer the significantly larger application volume that we have to expect with the targeted increase in labor migration.
The introduction of an electronic file in communication between foreign missions, foreigners authorities and the Federal Employment Agency, as well as the introduction of a comprehensive inter-agency IT system for employment migration, are also irreplaceable prerequisites for accelerated and smooth processes. In order to facilitate the immigration of skilled workers and create fast decision-making processes, the bundling of the tasks of the approximately 600 municipal foreigners authorities of the federal states in the area of skilled labor migration into specialized, supraregional central foreigners authorities, as provided for in the Skilled Workers Immigration Act, is necessary.
PDFs and links on the topic
Facts and figures
Facilitate skilled labor immigration from third countries; source: Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, 2019