Chancenkarte: Germany releases details of new points-based immigration system
As Germany gears up to present its new overhauled immigration strategy in the autumn, details of the policies it is likely to contain are beginning to be released. As well as making it easier to get German citizenship, the federal republic is working on a new points-based immigration system that would allow migrants to come to Germany even without a firm offer of a job. Here’s what we know so far.
New points-based immigration system in Germany to be unveiled in autumn
This week, Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil unveiled the first details of his new points-based immigration system, which he intends to present to the cabinet this autumn. The new system is designed to alleviate Germany’s skilled worker shortage by making it easier for people to come to the country to work.
“We need more immigration,” the minister said in an interview with Bild am Sonntag. “The traffic light [coalition] will present a modern immigration law for this in the autumn.” Under the new system, the government will introduce its own version of America’s “green card”, dubbed the “opportunity card” (Chancenkarte), which will use a points system to target immigration towards sectors that are most in need of workers.
How will the Chancenkarte scheme work?
Heil told Bild am Sonntag that the card would work like this: “Every year, depending on our needs, we set a quota for how many people can come to Germany with the Chancenkarte to look for a job or training here for a certain period of time. During this time they have to be able to secure their own livelihood.”
Applicants for the scheme will have to fulfil at least three of the following four criteria:
- They have a recognised degree or professional qualification
- They have at least three years of professional experience
- They can demonstrate German proficiency or previous residence in Germany
- They are younger than 35
The criteria make the German system similar to the points-based system used in Canada, although the latter has a more complex weighting system. Heil said that the four factors would be equally weighted, but that limits and conditions will be set each year according to which industries are most in need of workers.
Isn’t there already a jobseeker’s visa for Germany?
Currently, most workers coming to Germany from outside the EU need a firm job offer to get their visa accepted. They can apply for a visa for jobseekers, but the process is often long and laden with bureaucracy. Citizens of certain countries like the US and Australia can come to Germany for up to 90 days without a visa, but they aren’t permitted to enter into a long-term work contract.
The Chancenkarte is therefore expected to make it easier and quicker for non-EU citizens to come to Germany to find work and get a residence permit, rather than having to apply from abroad.
“This is about qualified immigration, an unbureaucratic process, and that’s why it’s important that we say that those who have the opportunity card can earn a living while they are here,” Heil told WDR Radio.
Germany’s worker woes
Germany is facing the mammoth task of plugging its growing worker shortage while also overhauling bureaucratic and typically paper-based systems that slow down immigration processes - for instance by making it tricky to get foreign qualifications officially recognised in Germany - or even put people off from applying altogether.
In June 2022, a German Economic Institute report found that 44 percent of businesses feel that worker shortages are holding them back, with significant consequences for the economy. This is the highest proportion recorded since the survey began in 2011.