New law eases job market for immigrants

A new law designed to force German employers to recognize foreign qualifications passed its final hurdle in the German parliament, the Bundesrat, on Friday.

New law eases job market for immigrants
Photo: DPA

The law, drawn up by Education Minister Annette Schavan, means that as of March 1, 2012, immigrants have the right to have their qualifications assessed within three months. If their certificates do not match German standards, they must be informed what they need to do to close the gaps.

In a government statement, Schavan called the law “an important sign with a view to the shortage of skilled labour,” and a “milestone in integration policy.”

The law has endured an arduous process in coming to fruition. Although there was cross-party agreement that red tape had to be cut, opposition parties wanted to provide more help for foreigners than the government.

Schavan was opposed to the Social Democratic Party’s suggestion that immigrants should have the automatic right to study for further vocational qualifications in Germany. Schavan told Die Welt newspaper ahead of Friday’s vote that Germans “would rightly feel themselves discriminated against” if that were allowed.

The row briefly threatened to derail the new law, because the government coalition of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) does not have a majority in the upper house of Germany’s parliament.

The government-affiliated Institute for Employment Research (IAB) says there are 2.8 million immigrants in Germany with qualifications, including 800,000 with university degrees. Many of them are forced to work in jobs they are over-qualified for because Germany does not recognize their academic certificates.

Many economists believe that this means Germany is depriving itself of valuable labour and expertise sorely needed in industry.

According to a government statement, up to 300,000 people could benefit directly from the law passed Friday.

DPA/The Local/bk

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Foreigners resident in Germany ‘not covered by new EES passport rules’

The European Commission has confirmed that non-EU nationals living in Germany won't be covered by EES - the major overhaul of passport rules and systems that's due to come into force next year.

Foreigners resident in Germany 'not covered by new EES passport rules'

The EU’s new entry and exit system (EES) is due to come into effect in May 2023, followed by the new ETIAS system in November, and between them they will have a major effect on travel in and out of the EU and Schengen zone.

EES means automated passport scans at EU external borders, which will increase security and tighten up controls of the 90-day rule. 

But the system is aimed at tourists and those making short visits to Germany – not non-EU citizens who live in Germany with a visa or permanent residency card – and there had been questions around how those groups would use the new system.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What the EU’s new EES system means for travel to Germany

The European Commission has now confirmed that EES does not apply for non-EU citizens who are living in Germany, telling The Local: “Non-EU nationals holders of residence permits are not in the scope of the Entry/Exit System and ETIAS. More about exceptions can be found on the website.

“When crossing the borders, holders of EU residence permits should be able to present to the border authorities their valid travel documents and residence permits.”

What this means in practice is that foreigners living in Germany cannot use the new automated passport gates that will be introduced with EES in May 2023.

The reason for this is that the automated passport gates only give the option to show a passport – it is not possible to also show a residence permit or permanent residency card. 

The automated system also counts how long people have stayed in Germany or Schengen, and whether they have exceeded their 90-day limit for short-term or visa-free stays.

Since residents are naturally exempt from the 90-day rule, they need to avoid the 90-day ‘clock’ beginning when they enter the EU. The best way to do this is to ensure that someone sees sees your residence permit upon entry. 

According to German immigration authorities, a stamp given out in error should not have an impact on residency rights. However, if the entry checks are conducted electronically, your passport could erroneously record an overstay, which could cause headaches later on. 

READ ALSO: British residents of EU told not to worry about ‘souvenir’ passport stamps

A Commission spokesman said: “EES is an automated IT system for registering non-EU nationals travelling for a short stay, each time they cross the external borders of European countries using the system (exemptions apply, see FAQ section).

“This concerns travellers who require a short-stay visa and those who do not need a visa. Refusals of entry are also recorded in the system. Non-EU citizens residing in the EU are not in the scope of the EES and will not be subject to pre-enrollment of data in the EES via self-service systems. The use of automation remains under the responsibility of the Member States and its availability in border crossing points is not mandatory.”

According to the French Interior Ministry, residents from non-EU countries should go to a manned gate and present their passport and residency papers together, instead of using the electronic gates. 

The Local has contacted the German Interior Ministry to confirm whether similar guidance applies in Germany.