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In 2020, we have seen many unexpected changes to all aspects of life including regulations for immigration to Germany. The developments of regulations have a direct impact on those currently immigrating to the country and those who are considering relocating in 2021. We will look at these developments closely in this article that may or may not affect your immigration process to Germany in the following years.
New rules for the immigration of skilled workers were put into place early in 2020.
The new law extends the possibilities for qualified professionals from outside the European Union to come to work in Germany. Before applying for a visa under the new rules, interested candidates need to obtain official recognition of their professional qualification from the relevant German authorities. Information about the procedures can be found on www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de. Interested professionals should start these procedures early.
Children must be vaccinated against measles to attend school.
Children who have not been vaccinated against measles will not be allowed to enroll in daycare or school. This went into effect on March 1st, 2020. Before a school can admit them, parents must be able to prove that their children have received the appropriate vaccinations. Since school attendance is mandatory in Germany (homeschooling has been illegal here since 1919, with exceptions to rare circumstances), parents who do not send their children to community facilities will be considered to have committed an administrative offense and may face a fine of up to 2.500 euros. Children who already attend either kindergarten or school in Germany have until July 31, 2021, to either get vaccinated against measles or prove that they have already been. The same applies to the faculty of educational facilities.
More tax relief for employees who relocate.
Since March 1st, anyone who changes homes for professional reasons can look forward to receiving higher compensation when it comes to their tax return. The amount you can claim as relocation costs tax-free will rise to 1,639 euros for married or single parents, 820 euros for single persons, and 361 euros for each additional member of the household. The flat rate covers all costs apart from transportation and travel costs, as well as double rental payments.
Six-Month Visas to search for work in Germany.
Moving to Germany for a maximum of six months to look for a job is now possible for many non-EU nationals that have their qualifications recognized by the relevant authority in Germany.
Foreign applicants that have enough funds to take care of themselves for the time of their stay and can prove to have a B1 level of understanding of the German language of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages can apply for a Germany Jobseeker Visa.
The visa permits its holder to work a maximum of 10 hours a week, so a potential candidate and their potential employer can find out if they are suited to each other.
Students can now change their residence status more easily.
Students in Germany who want to switch their residential status have the chance to do it more easily than before. Skilled students interested in vocational training, can get a residence permit to attend a vocational training course. Or they can get a job as a qualified professional whilst still studying or receiving vocational training (under certain preconditions). Those foreigners who have successfully completed a vocational training course in Germany can apply to receive a permanent settlement permit upon a period of two years in the country, the same period as applies to graduates.
What changes for companies hiring Non-EU workers?
Companies hiring employees outside the EU can now follow facilitated procedures and rules after the new law came into effect. These facilitations include expedited procedures for qualified professionals through the foreigner’s registration (Ausländeramt) office in Germany.
Firstly, the hiring company and the foreigner’s registration office must reach an agreement. This agreement should include the procedures, parties, deadlines, and powers of attorney. It should also state the obligations for the employer, the qualified professional, and the relevant authorities.
Secondly, the foreigner’s registration office gets the approval of the Federal Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit), within certain deadlines.
The office then issues to the employer an advance approval if all conditions are met. The employer then passes approval on to the qualified professional.
The qualified person shall then follow the procedures for getting an employment visa for Germany from their country of residence.
Introduction of Esports Visa
Athletes and coaches of esports can also apply for a visa, according to the new guidelines. This visa will allow them to come to Germany and obtain residence permits for employment.
The approval of the German Federal Employment Agency will not be required in this case either. Applicants will need to meet several conditions, as they must be above 16 years of age and have a salary of at least 50 percent of the income threshold of the statutory pension insurance.
In addition, the German Sports Federation and the responsible central association for the sport, by mutual agreement confirm the athlete’s athletic qualification or the coach’s professional competence.
The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has changed its policy of accepting applications in person in order to comply with the need to avoid contact and is currently only accepting applications in writing. These are not “written asylum applications” in accordance with section 14 subsection (2) of the Asylum Act (AsylG), which are intended for example for unaccompanied minors or for applicants who are in detention or in hospital but continue to be regarded as personal applications with “form applications”, which are now permissible as part of a controlled procedure.
A prerequisite for applying by means of a “form application” is that applicants must have registered in an initial reception facility of the Federal Länder, where proof of arrival (Ankunftsnachweis – AKN) is also issued. The “form application” is then completed, signed by the applicant in person, and then sent to the Federal Office, together with a copy of the proof of arrival. Once it has arrived, the Federal Office issues permissions to reside (Aufenthaltsgestattungen) and sends them to the applicant together with written instructions on the asylum procedure.
The Federal Office is currently concentrating its asylum efforts on making decisions, if possible without conducting interviews. The office has already maken 11,000 decisions in March 2020 alone. Interviews are still also being held in special cases, particularly those relating to security. Mobile teams are being deployed for this purpose.
The Federal Office is currently creating interview facilities in the branch offices that comply with the regulations on infection protection. This is however not possible at all locations due to the space available. Within this framework, the BAMF plans to recommence interviews after Easter, prioritizing urgent cases.
The personal interviews of all applicants concerning their individual reasons for flight, and the associated further processing of all asylum applications, will take place as soon as this is possible again due to the Corona pandemic.
These measures were taken in order to protect all those concerned and to break the chain of infection. The Federal Office is awaiting the further development of the stipulations on infection protection, and will adapt its interview practice accordingly should this be necessary. In the light of current developments relating to coronavirus, asylum procedure counselling by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has been temporarily suspended.
**Note: Original statement from the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF).
The effects of Brexit on the legal status of British citizens.
As an EU citizen, you continue to have the right to freedom of movement, that is to move and reside freely anywhere in the European Union, regardless of Brexit. You will also be able to keep your British citizenship.
If you have not yet done so, ensure that the German authorities, in particular the residents’ registration office, are notified of your other citizenship. Provide evidence of this in the form of a passport or official ID card. Otherwise, the authority will not be aware that you have an ongoing right to freedom of movement, and will immediately assume that you are subject to the special provisions for British citizens.
Entry restrictions and quarantine regulations in Germany.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions are in place for entry into Germany from a large number of countries. Moreover, persons arriving from many countries are obliged to self-isolate for a period of 14 days.
These regulations are issued by the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI). Please check with the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) prior to your trip to find out what regulations apply specifically with regard to the country from which you plan to enter Germany. In principle, entry is possible from:
- EU member states
- States associated with Schengen: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein
- United Kingdom
- Other countries, from which entry is possible due to the epidemiological situation assessment by the EU
- Entry from other countries not mentioned above is only possible in exceptional cases and is conditional on there being an urgent Need
For more information and up-to-date changes visit the website of the Federal Foreign Office.
The rules for immigration are constantly evolving and we hope that you will find this information useful if you are planning on relocating to Germany. Many cities in Germany have large expat populations and it is easy to integrate into the local culture.
For more information on relocating to Germany and helpful advice make sure to enroll our exclusive Welcome Program.
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