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IMMIGRATION

Germany ‘missed its chance’ to attract skilled eastern Europeans

Germany is not attracting enough immigrants, despite lifting work restrictions in May, latest figures show, leading to criticism of a chance wasted in 2004 when other European countries opened their borders to eastern neighbours.

Germany 'missed its chance' to attract skilled eastern Europeans
Photo: DPA

The initial fear was of low-wage workers flooding the employment market, so Germany maintained employment restrictions back in 2004, diverting the stream of young eastern Europeans looking for work, to other countries.

This May those restrictions were lifted, and figures show that the chance of attracting enthusiastic young workers may have been lost. Although there was a spike of 10,324 immigrants arriving from countries such as Poland, Lithuania and Slovenia, in May, it was not as big an increase as had been expected.

Even before immigration restrictions were lifted, between 4,500 and 6,500 eastern Europeans were moving to Germany on a monthly basis, according to statistics from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

And after the initial rush, the trend is heading back down to where it was before: In June just 7,342 people immigrated to Germany from eastern Europe.

Now some experts suggest the fear of immigrants led to a damaging loss of opportunity, with the valuable, skilled workers going elsewhere.

Technicians and engineers have bypassed the country, said Herbert Brücker, a migration expert at the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) in Nuremberg.

“Germany is not as attractive for skilled workers from abroad as, for example Great Britain or Ireland,” Brücker said, adding that Germany might end up becoming home to only 60,000 to 70,000 additional workers from eastern Europe this year. Hundreds of thousands had been anticipated.

More than 200,000 of eastern Europe’s most attractive workers have already gone to those countries which lifted European labour restrictions in 2004.

Non-English-speaking countries have long struggled to compete with places like Britain and Ireland, since many migrants believe English is easier to learn than other languages. Another attraction is the idea that working in Britain or Ireland may open doors to working in the rest of the English-speaking world, including the United States.

There is no doubt that Germany needs new immigrants to take up skilled positions such as engineering jobs for which there are simply not enough trained domestic workers.

And although efforts are now being made to attract skilled workers from western European countries such as Spain, Greece and Portugal where the economy is faltering, to some extent industry is throwing up its hands.

“We see today that the full freedom of movement of workers with eastern Europe is at best a small help,” said the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) in a statement.

Brücker also seemed at a loss, simply saying, “The economy must put in place a better recruitment strategy than in the past.”

The Local/DAPD/mdm

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RESIDENCY PERMITS

What to do if you lose your residence permit in Germany

Third-country nationals with the right to live and work in Germany are generally issued a residence permit in their passport or in the form of an ID card. But what do you if you happen to lose this vital document - or if it gets stolen? Here's a step-by-step guide.

What to do if you lose your residence permit in Germany

Losing an important document can be a nightmare scenario for foreigners in Germany – especially if it’s the one you rely on to live and work in the country. So if you search for your residence permit one day and suddenly realise it’s missing, you may feel the urge to panic. 

Luckily, there’s a process to follow to get a replacement and ensure nobody else can misuse your residence permit in the meantime. This being Germany, it may take a little time, but rest assured you will be able to replace the document. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Different types of permit

If you’re a non-EU national in Germany, you’re likely to have one of two documents proving your rights and status in the country: 

  • a residence permit that’s placed on a page in your passport (Zusatzblatt zum Aufenthaltstitel), or
  • an electronic ID, or eID, card (electronischer Aufenthaltstitel) for permanent residents. 

Some third-country nationals who’ve been in Germany for less than five years on a visa will have their residence permit in their passport, while others will have been issued an eID card. Permanent residents will generally have an eID card. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to prove you’re a resident in Germany

Brits who lived in Germany before the Brexit cut-off date are likely to have a special type of electronic ID card known as an Aufenthaltstitel-GB. This looks pretty similar to a permanent residence card and basically signifies that the holder is entitled to the same rights as EU citizens living in Germany. 

You’ll need to do things slightly differently depending on which type of residence permit you have, so we’ll cover each in turn. 

In either case, if you suspect you’ve been a victim of theft, it’s a good idea to file a police report so they can be on the lookout for any potential fraud. 

What to do you if you lose your electronic ID card

1. Call the cancellation hotline 

If you’ve mislaid your eID card or it’s been stolen, the first thing to do is call up a national hotline on 01801 33 33 33 and put a block on the card.

To do this, you’ll need to have your Sperrkennwort (blocking passport) handy. The way you’ll have received this can differ from state to state, but usually it is sent out in a letter along with the PIN and PUK for your electronic ID card around the time that the eID was issued. 

This will block anyone from using your eID function. If you find your card again, you can unblock it by visiting the Ausländerbehörde. 

If you haven’t activated the eID function or happen to have mislaid your blocking password as well, then move straight to the second step below. 

READ ALSO: What is Germany’s electronic ID card and how do you use it?

2. Get in touch with the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Office)

Once you’ve put a block on your card, you’ll need to get in touch with the Ausländerbehörde to let them know what’s happened and arrange a replacement card.

You can do this via email or telephone but may also have to book an in-person appointment if they need to see certain documents for issuing the replacement. If you need to block the eID function and don’t have your Sperrkennwort, you’ll need to take your passport to the Ausländerbehörde to do this.

Bear in mind that you won’t get your new ID card straight away. Depending on the state, it can take a up to three months to be issued. You’ll also need to pay a fee for the replacement card, which can vary from state to state and is normally paid with cash or EC card at the Ausländerbehörde. 

Also, once an order for a new card has been sent off, you’ll no longer be able to reactivate your old card should you find it again. 

Ausländerbehörde Berlin

People go in and out of the Ausländerbehörde in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance / Kay Nietfeld/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

What to do if you lose your passport and visa 

1. Order a new passport 

It probably goes without saying, but if you lose your passport with your residence permit in it, the first thing you’ll need to do is get hold of a new passport. This should be done via the government of your home country. 

2. Book an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde

Once you’ve got your new passport, make an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde to get a replacement printed out. If you’re unsure what documentation to bring with you to the appointment, check on their website or send them an email beforehand.

Once again, you’ll need to pay a fee for the replacement, which is normally done on-site with cash or an EC card. 

What if I’m travelling out of the country soon? 

If you’re leaving Germany and don’t have time to get a replacement eID card or residence permit, contact the Ausländerbehörde straight away. They should be able to assist you with emergency proof of residence, which is normally done in the form of a Fiktionsbescheinigung (a certificate confirming your status and rights before the official proof has been issued).

Obviously, if you’ve lost your passport, your first port of call will be your home country’s embassy, who can normally issue emergency travel documents within a matter of days. 

For Brits covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, bringing other proof of residence in Germany such as your registration (Anmeldung) with you or a work contract should suffice to avoid getting a stamp in your passport when you re-enter. But even if you do, it won’t affect your rights.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that there are no hard borders in Schengen, so if you’re travelling around the EU, you’ll generally be fine without your visa. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: How can I re-enter Germany without my post-Brexit residence card?

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