Virginia, US

Dec 19 2018

Draft Bill Proposes to Reform Labor Migration Processes and Ease Medium-Skilled Migration


The situation

The German federal government has approved a draft bill to reform skilled labor migration to Germany.

A closer look

The draft bill includes the following key changes, among others:

  • Broader access to work permits.
    • Vocational degree holders. The draft law would introduce a new visa category for foreign nationals with foreign vocational training. Additionally, applicants with a vocational degree would be eligible for any occupation, where they are currently restricted to shortage occupations. Such applicants would not be subject to a labor market test.
    • Applicants without a formal degree. Under the draft law, applicants with five years of professional experience in the last seven years, but without a formal degree, would be eligible for a permit in shortage occupations such as information technology and engineering. For other occupations, employers would have to guarantee coverage for public costs (such as medical bills and deportation costs) for 12 months following the end of employment.
    • Impact. The proposed changes would offer more opportunities for employers to recruit foreign workers in medium- and low-skilled positions, where recruitment is currently largely restricted to highly-skilled positions.


  • Streamlined processing.
    • New central agency. The draft law would require German states to create a Central Immigration Office to process initial visa and work permit applications for skilled migrants, where these are currently handled by local immigration offices.
    • Fast-tracking. A new expedited approval process would be developed in which the new central offices would obtain approvals from the Federal Employment Agency (FEA) and the relevant degree recognition authorities, and would send a consolidated approval to German consular posts, which would then schedule a visa appointment within two weeks of the approval.
    • Impact. Although the new process would reduce processing times, it would increase the number of authorities involved and interaction with and between those authorities, reducing the predictability of outcomes.

  • Increased FEA involvement. Under the draft law, the FEA would review sponsoring employers’ overall tax, social security and labor law compliance, as well as their solvency. This would apply to all applications where an approval by the FEA is included in the process.
    • Impact. Increased involvement of the FEA would likely increase reporting and compliance obligations for employers.

  • New notification. Sponsoring employers would be required to notify immigration authorities if a foreign worker’s assignment or employment ends earlier than planned, where this is currently not required.
    • Impact. Increased reporting requirements signal an increase in the German government’s compliance checks on employers hiring foreign workers.


The draft bill is a part of the coalition government’s strategy to improve Germany’s overall immigration policies as described in the government paper published in October.

Looking ahead

The draft bill will be submitted to parliament for review in the coming weeks and is expected to be adopted by parliament by May 2019. Fragomen expects parliament to amend the draft on some points in the coming months. Once adopted, the law will enter into force after a six-month transition period. Fragomen will report on any relevant developments as they occur.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].