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IMMIGRATION

Europeans try their luck in Germany

As the financial crisis in Europe continues to put pressure on job-seekers, thousands of Greeks, Spaniards and Portuguese are coming to Germany – to escape economic problems in their native countries.

Europeans try their luck in Germany
Photo: DPA

In Frankfurt, young Spanish academics apply for jobs at the Spanish language institute Instituto Cervantes. And at an association for Greek academics, founder Gregorius Thomaidis is flooded with registrations almost every day from people who are looking for new opportunities in the Rhine-Main area.

Community colleges and Goethe Institutes all over the country are reporting an influx of well-educated Southern and Eastern Europeans for German language courses.

The financial crisis in Southern Europe as well as the possibility of establishing oneself and being able to work in other EU countries is what attracts increasing numbers of Europeans to Germany.

According to the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden, in the first half of 2012, 306,000 foreigners from other EU countries moved to Germany – 24 percent more than the first half of the previous year. Experts consider this to be a success.

“We should be happy about this immigration,” said social scientist Steffen Kröhnert from the Institute for Population and Development.

Between 2002 and 2010, Germany’s population decreased by about 800,000 people. Moreover, there is a need for young and qualified professional newcomers in the ageing German society. “This is the gap that the immigrants are filling,” said Kröhnert.

Many industries are on the lookout for trainees including those in trades as well as small and medium sized businesses in rural areas. “Young people from Spain and Greece could be specifically recruited for these positions,” she said.

“The rising number of immigrants most notably from the crisis-hit Southern European countries shows that the EU freedom of movement has been successful,” said Gunilla Fincke, director of the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration, in Berlin.

Unemployed people from countries hit by the financial crisis make use of the opportunity to work in the economically better off nations of the EU. “This benefits everyone: Germany can do away with the shortage of skilled workers, while the EU citizens find work and unburden the job market in their home countries,” said Fincke.

People from the crisis-countries are mostly well-educated professionals and young, ambitious, high school graduates. They should, however, be systematically supported, she said.

Professor Herbert Brücker from the Federal Employment Agency in Nuremberg said this of the immigrating hopefuls: “We can absorb this workforce well.”

In 2011, immigrants were much better integrated into the job market than the earlier surges of foreigners. The new immigrants – Southern Europeans as well as the biggest immigrant group, the Poles – are also well qualified. But owing to their high qualifications, both Kröhnert and Brücker are sceptical about whether they will help solve the shortage of nurses facing the country.

Last summer, at least three or four fellow Greeks registered themselves at Thomaidis’ association for Greek academics. They all want to either move to Germany or are already living in the country with relatives.

“They come from all kinds of fields, but there are especially a lot of scientists,” he remarked.

Most immigrants fall in the 24 to 40 year age group: people who have lost their jobs in their home country or don’t have any prospects there.

Thomaidis, a retired surgeon, concluded, “If the situation in Greece doesn’t improve, there will be many more people moving to Germany.”

DPA/The Local/mb

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BREXIT

EXPLAINED: How can Brits visit or move to Germany post-Brexit?

Many Brits may be considering spending time in Germany or even moving for work or to study. Here's a look at the rules.

EXPLAINED: How can Brits visit or move to Germany post-Brexit?

The Brexit transition period ended on January 1st 2021, but it’s been a turbulent few years with Covid-related restrictions, which mean many people may not have travelled abroad since then. Here’s what you should know about the rules for travelling and moving to Germany post-Brexit. 

Can I visit Germany from the UK on holiday?

Absolutely. But you do have to stick to certain rules on how long you can stay in Germany (and other EU countries) without a visa.

“British citizens do not require a visa for the Schengen Member States, if the duration of their stay does not exceed 90 days within any 180-day period,” says the German Missions consular service in the UK. 

You can find a full explanation of the 90-day rule from our sister site, The Local France, HERE, along with the Schengen calculator that allows you to work out your allowance.

READ ALSO: Passport scans and €7 fees: What will change for EU travel in 2022 and 2023

Note that if you were living in Germany before January 1st 2021, different rules apply. People in this scenario should have received a residence permit – known as the Aufenthaltstitel-GB – from the German authorities, which proves their right to remain in Germany with the same rights as they had before Brexit. 

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

Can I move to Germany from the UK after the Brexit transition period?

Yes. But if you are coming to Germany to live and work, you will need to apply for the right documents, like other so-called ‘third country nationals’. All foreigners from outside the EU who want to to stay in Germany for more than three months have to get a residence permit (Aufenthaltstitel). 

As we touched on above, citizens from some countries (including the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Israel, New Zealand and Switzerland) are allowed entry into Germany without a visa and can apply for a residence permit while in the country. You can contact the Foreigners Office (Ausländerbehörde) in your area to find out how to get a residence permit.

You’ll need various official documents, such as a valid passport, proof of health insurance and proof that you can support yourself. You usually receive your residence permit as a sticker in your passport.

Passengers wait at Hamburg airport.

Passengers at Hamburg airport. Brits coming to Germany have more things to consider after Brexit. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Markus Scholz

Germany has a well-documented skilled worker shortage at the moment so there are work permit options to consider that may suit your circumstances. 

For the work visa for qualified professionals, for instance, your qualifications have to be either recognised in Germany or comparable to those from a German higher education facility. 

You may also be able to get an EU Blue Card. This residence permit is aimed at attracting and enabling highly qualified third-country nationals to live in the EU. 

It comes with benefits, including the right to to request and bring family members to the country, and shortcuts for applying for permanent residency. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How German citizenship differs from permanent residency

When applying for a Blue Card in Germany this year, you have to earn a minimum gross salary (before tax) of €56,400 – down from €56,800 in 2021. 

In so-called shortage occupations (Mangelberufe), where there is a high number of unfilled positions, the minimum gross salary is €43,992 – down from €44,304 in 2021.

Shortage occupations include employees in the sectors of mathematics, IT, natural sciences, engineering and medicine.

If you want to come to Germany from the UK to study then you also need to apply for a visa. For this you may need proof of acceptance to the university or higher education institution of your choice and possibly proof of your German language skills.

Check out the useful government website Make it in Germany for more detailed information, as well as the German Missions in the UK site, which has lots of info on travel after Brexit, and on visas.  

What else should I know?

The German government plans to reform the immigration system, although it’s not clear at this stage when this will happen. 

It will move to a points-based system, inspired by countries like Canada, where foreigners will have to score above a certain threshold of points to get a residence or work permit.

This scoring system will be set by the government, but it will include factors like language skills, family connections to the country, specific qualifications or work-related skills, or the amount of money in your bank account.

Keep an eye on The Local’s home page for updates on the changes to immigration laws. 

Have you moved to Germany – or are thinking about moving – after the Brexit transition period and want to share your experiences? Please get in touch by emailing [email protected] 

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