Bundestag passes major reform to German immigration laws

Bundestag passes major reform to German immigration laws

A new law which will make it easier for non-EU citizens to look for work while living in Germany has passed through the German parliament.

New points-based immigration law passes through German parliament

A law designed to encourage more non-EU skilled workers to move to Germany has passed through the Bundestag this Friday, June 23. The new law includes the introduction of a points-based Chancenkarte (Opportunity Card).

For people looking to move to Germany to work, this is perhaps the most significant and exciting change. Currently, only non-EU citizens with a concrete job offer from an employer in Germany are granted a visa to work.

With the new Chancenkarte, jobseekers who can financially support themselves will be able to live in Germany for up to a year while they look for work. Unlike current work visas, which bind applicants to certain positions, the Chancenkarte will also allow holders to switch jobs and engage in temporary or part-time work while they are looking for more long-term employment.

However, there are some further requirements. Chancenkarten will be issued to people who have a vocational qualification or university degree. These qualifications can be from anywhere in the world and the new law will also simplify the process of having foreign qualifications recognised in Germany. Applications will also be scored using a points system, where candidates are awarded points based on age, their connection to Germany, work experience and German language skills.

Refugees awaiting asylum approval and those in Germany on a tourist visa will also see the working regulations attached to their immigration status become slightly more relaxed.

Conservative politicians oppose the change

Speaking in the Bundestag on Friday, SDP Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said that the draft law “secures prosperity in Germany”, but pressed that further bureaucratic hurdles must be removed so that more people are able to move to Germany with ease and help the country deal with its dire worker shortage. “It's unacceptable that you have to fill in 17 different applications to bring a new care worker into the country,” Faeser said.

Germany’s worker shortage recently reached record highs, and the director of Germany’s Federal Employment Agency, Andrea Nahles, has stressed that “even if [Germany] leverage[s] all domestic potential, [filling vacant jobs] will not be possible without further immigration, also for demographic reasons. We need both labourers and skilled workers.”

The greatest opposition to the law came from conservative and right-wing parties. Andrea Lindholz of the CSU said that lowering language requirements would mean encouraging more “low-skilled” workers to arrive in Germany. Norbert Kleinwächter of the AfD proffered the most cutting criticism, suggesting that the new law would turn Germany into a “junk country”.

Lamya Kaddor of the Green Party defended the coalition's decision to lower German language requirements, rebutting Kleinwächter’s comments by saying that the working environment was the best possible place to learn and improve German skills.

"This is finally, finally, really good news for this country. In the competition with other successful countries of immigration like the US or Canada, we have made some crucial steps forward," Kaddor concluded.

Thumb image credit: Juergen Nowak /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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eddieedmond2 00:24 | 2 July 2023

So you’ve passed all these laws, congratulations! Now a third country national will have to go through the humiliating, stringent, doubtful, Germany embassy workers in their home countries and if they make it, their spouses and families might wait up to a year to join them in Germany. Good luck attracting all those needed workers!