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DW: Germany to change immigration laws to attract skilled labor

28-3-2023 |

Germany's dearth of skilled laborers has forced Berlin to look hard at existing immigration policies, and the government's new plan designed to attract more with greater easek put forth jointly by the Interior and Labor Ministries cleared the Cabinet on Wednesday. It will still need to go through both houses of parliament.

The new bill is part of a comprehensive migration package the ruling coalition says will modernize the country's immigration, residency and citizenship laws. Existing skilled labor immigration rules were established in March 2020, when Germany was governed by the so-called grand coalition headed by Angela Merkel.

The draft law estimates that it could increase skilled labor migration from non-EU countries by around 60,000 per year, roughly doubling the pre-COVID pandemic figures of 2019. 

The policy would be based on a new points system that considers attributes in five categories.

These are qualifications, German language skills, career experience, connections to Germany (for instance relatives already living in the country), and age.

Labor Minister Hubertus Heil said in December when first unveiling the plans that people deemed to meet three or more of these criteria would be eligible for closer consideration.

Changes include a lowering of various hurdles that have made it difficult for the country to attract workers from abroad, something Germany must do if it is to fill the historically high number of job openings in its labor market. Berlin said the number of vacant jobs reached 1.98 million in the fourth quarter of 2022, the highest ever recorded.