Breakdown of Germany’s 2023 Skilled Immigration Act I All You Need to Know

For a while now my briefings have been about relocation opportunities in Germany and that is for very good reasons, most of which is that this Europe’s biggest economy seriously means business about opening her doors to immigrants from around the world who wish to relocate to live and work in Germany.

In furtherance to this resolve, the German parliament, which is referred to in German language as Bundestag has just passed a new law to further expand the immigration space for immigrants. This is exactly what we shall try to breakdown in this article. Particularly, we shall be discussing what this new immigration law is all about, and the opportunities it has created for those who wish to relocate to Germany or any other part of Europe.


First thing you should note is that this new law was passed by the German parliament, the Bundestag with the objective of reforming the existing law, which is called the Skilled Immigration Act. However, it is important to understand that even before this new law, Germany already had one of the most liberal skilled worker visas in Europe, which some may even consider friendlier than what is obtainable in the United Kingdom.

One thing Germany and most of the other major European countries are desperately scheming to outdo each other right now is how to attract skilled workers from all over the world, especially from outside the European Union. They are targeting about 25,000 workers each year from non-EU states such as African and Asian countries. This is exactly the motive that has paved the way for this new skilled immigration act.

The bill that led to this law has been before the German parliament for over a year and was long fought before it was passed. The bill’s adoption means Germany now has one of “the world’s most modern immigration law” and will significantly remove some of the existing difficulties that intending immigrants to Germany are currently facing under the current regime.

This moves to liberalise the immigration space in Germany does not even end with this new Immigration Act. There is ongoing move to loosing up the requirements for acquiring German citizenship too.

During the parliamentary debate, a German politician named Martin Rosemann from same SPD as Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s captured the desperation of the German government in the following words: “The well-qualified young people from around the world are not exactly queuing up to come to work in Germany.”

Speaking further he said. “We have to woo them and must give them a long-term perspective. That is why we will reform the citizenship law, too.” That cannot be further from the truth.

Therefore, this new skilled immigration law is part of an initiative from Scholz’s government to liberalize the conditions for non-Germans in the country to find it easier to have dual citizenship from non-EU countries — something that will be particularly welcomed by citizens from African countries who are longing for a second nationality.


The new law has indeed changed the face of German immigration and has made things a lot easier for intending migrants who wish to relocate to settle in Germany. These new changes will now be discussed as simple as possible.

Opportunity Card

This is the most significant new introduction into the German immigration regime that the new law has made. The Opportunity Card is based on a points system, just like you have it in the UK and Canada and perhaps Australia.

The criteria for which points are allocated into the opportunity card includes factors such as language skills, academic or vocational qualification, work or professional experience, age and existing ties to Germany, potentials of your accompanying partner or spouse.

The opportunity card allows you to come to Germany to live and search for job with more liberties than before. Note that while all the above criteria are all important, the major prerequisite for receiving the opportunity card will be a vocational qualification or university degree.

I will throw more light to the meaning of all these factors shortly in other to break them further down, so you understand how easier it is for you to now relocate to live and work in Germany. But first, there are 2 very significant changes, (in fact very positive changes) the Opportunity Card have made that needs to be highlighted here:

  1. First, is the possibility of people from non – EU countries to get a German visa, come to Germany and live for up to one whole year even without a job offer from a German employer. Before this law you were only allowed to stay for only 6 months. No more than that.
  2. Secondly, the opportunity card now allows you to work officially in Germany even without resident permit. While still looking for a major job offer for the purpose of getting your resident permit, you are allowed to work casually. This was previously not allowed under the job seeker visa policy.

With the card you are permitted to take up casual work for up to 20 hours a week, just like students are allowed to work in the UK. So, in Germany with the opportunity card, while looking for a qualified job, as well as probationary employment, you are still allowed to work officially throughout the whole year.

Silled Worker Requirement

Now, it is very important to understand that reference to the word, “skilled” does not necessarily mean any exceptional qualification. Reference to “skilled workers” only means people with something to offer the German economy. This could be in the form of academic degree or vocational training.

People with academic degree would include computer scientists, nurses, doctors, engineers, teachers, and midwives, etc. Then people with vocational training would include artisans such as welders, carpenters, chefs, electricians, bricklayers and their likes. This will also include computer programmers and IT professionals without university degrees.

So, the law is intended to make it easier for university graduates and those with vocational qualifications to immigrate to Germany. This includes skilled workers from mostly non-EU countries who wish to migrate to Germany with their families to live and  to work.

No Priority Check

No priority check means that the new Act has removed the need to first check if there is a German or EU citizen interested in the same job before it is offered to a non-EU applicant. In other words, if there is a job opening in any company, the company is no longer required to offer it to a German citizen first.

Jobs can be offered to a foreigner who is applying from abroad without checking locally if there are available candidates to take up the job. This is contrary to what you have in the United Kingdom where employers are required to show evidence of how they have tried to fill the vacancy with UK based workers before they are allowed to sponsor a worker from abroad.

So, effectively the priority check abolishment means there will be more job vacancies that will become available for African candidates very soon in Germany.

Unlimited Option for Vocational Workers

It is also important to mention that the new law has now made it possible for skilled workers with vocational training to work in all areas of their expertise, and not only in areas on the shortage occupation list. The employment of qualified professionals from outside the EU with vocations, i.e. non-academic training, is no longer restricted to occupations where there is shortage of skills locally.

If someone has a vocational training qualification recognised in Germany, their residence permit allowing them to work in a specific occupation will also allow them to work in Germany in all occupations covered by their qualification.

Training & Skill Development

The new Act has now created the possibility of coming to Germany to live for up to 2 years and receive training and skill development. Under the new law, where the basic precondition for recognition of foreign degree still applies, this has now been improved.

For instance, for an applicant from abroad, if the procedure finds that the person’s foreign qualification does not fully meet the requirements of a German qualification the applicant can still get a visa to Germany. This is if the applicant has the necessary German language skills.

This visa was initially possible with 18-month residence permit for this purpose, but it can now be extended for at least six months up to a maximum period of two years. After the maximum period of the residence permit has expired, a residence permit for the purpose of training, study or work can be issued.

Financial Requirement

This is where it gets more interesting. The proof of fund requirement under the job seeker visa has now been abolished under this new law. You are no longer required to show you have the financial capacity to provide for your needs while in Germany looking for job.

With the opportunity card, which has been introduced under the new law, you are now allowed to work for 20hours a week, while searching for a major job. Therefore, you can get any job at all to earn some money to take care of yourself. You can also start a paid job on probation with an employer who wants to test your capability before offering you fulltime employment.

Visitors & Tourists

The changes made by the new Act also holds for those who are in Germany on a tourist visa. That is for some persons who have just arrived in Germany on a visit, may be for the purpose of holiday or any other pleasure trip, they could apply for any available job vacancy during their visit.

If they get accepted, then they can convert their tourist visa to resident permit and stay permanently in Germany if they so wish. They will not be required to first leave the country, back to their country of origin to go and apply for work visa before returning to Germany.

Degree Recorgnition 

Anyone who has been following stories from intending immigrants from Africa to Germany will understand that this is a very sour point that fractured the dreams of very many. The requirement for positive recognition of foreign degrees by German authorities has been a major obstacle for getting a job and immigrating to the country because of the obvious high standard of academic degrees in Germany compared to that of African countries.

The new immigration law will be changing this in the future when it becomes fully operational. You will no longer need to have degrees recognized in Germany before you can get a job offer with it. You will only need to meet two much easier conditions:

  1. First, you will simply show that your degree is recognised in your home country. What that means is that you must have attended a recognised educational or vocational institution and have been awarded a degree which is officially recognised by government.
  2. Secondly you will need to have at least two years of professional or vocational experience post qualification.

With these two conditions, you can get a job offer in Germany, get a visa, and relocate to start your work in Germany while your degree is still being accessed for recognition where this process is still considered necessary at all.

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