December 8, 2022

Major Change in German Immigration Law in 2023


Germany aims to open its labour market to foreign skilled workers and other foreign workers in line with local demand, with the rollout of significant changes to its immigration system. The implementation of these changes will further develop and modernise German immigration law and, along with other labour market strategies, will help address the current shortfall in skilled workers across all sectors.


What has changed?

In response to Germany’s urgent need for skilled workers to fill workforce gaps across all sectors, the Federal Government have proposed significant upcoming changes to the legal framework of the German immigration system. Implementation of these changes is expected in early 2023 and will create a more open system giving employers in Germany the possibility of filling positions from a wider pool of foreign candidates. The system will focus on a concept of 3 immigration “pillars”: Skilled workers, Experienced workers and Potential. 

Some of the key proposed changes are as follows: 

1st Pillar - Skilled Pillar

    • In future, a recognised qualification will in principle entitle the holder to any qualified employment in non-regulated professions.
    • The salary limits for the EU Blue Card will be lowered to 1.25 times the average annual gross salary (regular salary limit) and 1.0 times the average annual gross salary (lowered salary limit) 
    • Advantages associated with an EU Blue Card will be transferred to skilled workers with qualified vocational training.
    • For professionals who are unable to submit documents relating to their professional qualification for reasons for which they are not responsible, or who are only able to submit such documents in part, or for whom the submission of the relevant documents would involve an unreasonable expenditure of time and material, there will be the opportunity to enter and reside in country during the qualification analysis in order to be able to check their competences in Germany.
    • Holder of permits based on §18c (1) AufenthG will be able to apply for a permanent residence permit earlier
    • There will no longer be a requirement for “Vorrangprüfung” (local labour market checks) for entry and residence to take up vocational training
    • The regulations on employment alongside study preparation and alongside studies will be reviewed to allow more flexibility.

2nd Pillar – Experience Pillar

    • There will be a new regulation to add possibilities to pursue employment in non-regulated professions. Required will be at least two years of proven professional experience in the profession to be exercised and a vocational or higher education qualification (for at least two years duration) recognised by the state in the country in which it was obtained.
    • The minimum salary limit for IT specialists will be adjusted to the lowered EU Blue Card level. Also, the language requirement is left to the discretion of the employer
    • There will be a recognition partnership between the German government, employer, and employee. On that basis, qualified third-country nationals will have the opportunity to be employed in Germany in the occupational context of the anticipated target occupation, even before a recognition procedure is initiated. Employees and employers undertake to carry out the recognition procedure and any necessary qualifications quickly, following commencement of the job in country.

3rd Pillar – Potential Pillar

    • A job search opportunity card based on a transparent points-based system will be introduced. Selection criteria may include qualifications, language skills, work experience, reference to Germany and age. Applicants with a qualification recognised as having a German equivalent can receive such card without further requirements. While holding the opportunity card, individuals can complete a two-week trial period of full-time employment during the job search and are permitted to take on part time employment of 20hrs a week. 
    • They will enable quota and temporary entry for all third-country nationals for employment regardless of qualification, considering the capacities available for this purpose. The 
      labour authority can set quotas for certain sectors by sub-law. Working conditions should not fall below collectively agreed working conditions. Employment must be with employers covered by collective agreements or in sectors with a generally binding collective agreement. Within this category employment should be possible for up to six months within a twelve-month period. For entries of 90 days within a period of 180 days, nationals from so-called positive states will only require a work permit approval from the labour authority. 
    • The time limit on the Western Balkans regulation will be removed and the quota will at least be significantly increased. Also, they strive to extend it to other countries. 
    • In future, the national visa will be issued for a period of one year for qualified employment, whereas it is currently limited to three or six months. 
    • Certain bans on changing purposes will be abolished in order to make it easier to switch between educational and employment residence titles within the country. 

Who is affected?

Employers who intend to localise foreign national employees in Germany and/or send employees on assignment to Germany will be impacted by these changes. In particular, those employers who were not previously able to fill positions with foreign workers at varying job levels, now have further immigration options to use. 

What to expect /impact?

The upcoming changes will enable easier access to the German labour market for foreign workers at all levels of employment and skill. 

What you need to do

For further information on the changes and what opportunities this may open up for your company, please contact the Sterling Lexicon immigration team at


Christian Lentzsch

Christian Lentzsch

Christian studied Business Law in Frankfurt am Main focusing on HR Management and Labour Law. During his 10 year journey through various areas within the Global Mobility industry, he mainly focused on German Immigration Law. In his current role, Client Solutions Manager, he is providing strategic and consultative support for Global Mobility solutions to multinational organisations.

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