On 23 June 2023, the German parliament approved a new law which reforms the Skilled Immigration Act.
The new Skilled Immigration Act aims to attract more skilled workers with the following major changes:
- Highly skilled workers will qualify for an EU Blue Card with a lower minimum salary of EUR 49,581.60 (or EUR 39,682.80 in shortage occupations).
- The reduced-salary Blue Card will be available to a broader range of occupations, including:
- Manufacturing and distribution managers;
- Professional services managers, such as childcare professionals;
- Teaching professionals;
- Various health professionals (e.g., nurses, veterinarians, dentists, pharmacists, etc.);
- All academics who have graduated within the last three years;
- IT specialists who have vocational qualifications instead of a university degree;
- Those with protected status.
- The EU Blue Card will allow a change of employer with only a declaration instead of an application and will require employment of at least 12 months (rather than 24 as currently).
- Highly skilled workers will no longer require their degree to be in a subject relevant to their job. Workers with vocational training in any field will be able to take a job in any qualified field.
- Certain skilled foreign workers (earning above a certain salary threshold and with at least two years of professional experience) will no longer be required to have their qualifications and experience recognized in Germany if they are recognized in their home country.
- If qualifications need to be recognized in Germany, a foreign worker with a job offer can go to Germany and start working during the recognition process.
- In industries experiencing acute labour shortages, workers will be able to enter Germany and work for up to eight months regardless of their qualifications, with a collective bargaining agreement.
- Qualified foreign nationals who do not have a job will be able to spend up to a year in Germany seeking work if they qualify under a points system for a new “Opportunity Card”. Points will be awarded for German and/or English language skills, existing ties to Germany and age. An opportunity card allows part-time work of up to 20 hours a week while looking for a skilled job, and trial employment is also permitted.
- Students will more easily be able to take on secondary work while completing their studies.
- Asylum seekers with pending applications submitted by 29 March 2023, who have the relevant qualifications and a job offer, will also be allowed to seek work or undertake vocational training while their asylum application is in progress.
- Tourist visa holders will no longer be required to leave Germany before returning for work.
- The quota for nationals of Western Balkans countries is to be doubled. Up to 50,000 nationals from the six Western Balkan states of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia will be allowed to migrate to Germany every year.
- The parents of a specialist foreign worker will also be eligible for a residence permit for family reunification. The same applies to the in-laws of the foreign worker if their spouse is permanently resident in Germany.
On 26 June 2023, the Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail launched a review of the occupations on the Critical Skills Occupation List and Ineligible Occupations List for employment permits and called for employers and stakeholders to make a submission.
Submissions are invited from representative bodies, Government Departments, Agencies, and other interested parties to a public consultation to review the eligibility of occupations appearing on the Critical Skills Occupations List and the Ineligible Occupations List for employment permits.
Interested parties who feel that there are skills/labour shortages or surpluses in relation to occupations in their sector and that these are adversely affecting their industry, are invited to make a submission.
Stakeholders should include in their submission any relevant actors that they consider are impacting on their sector so that consideration can be given to making adjustments to the lists, for example, data on the skills or labour shortages, information on recruitment efforts undertaken, retention difficulties, relevant training incentives, impact on business, expansion plans etc., and any other evidence or data such as industry surveys or reports and views within their sector.
Submissions will only be accepted using the form made available on the department’s website and will be open from 26 June 2023 until 18 August 2023.
Effective immediately, all applications made in Morocco for UK visa must be paid online rather than in cash.
All customers wishing to apply for a UK visa must make an online payment on the official UK government website before submitting their passport and biometrics at their designated Visa Application Centre.
Effective 29 June 2023, the age limit for New Zealanders going to the UK under the UK-New Zealand Youth Mobility and Working Holiday visa schemes rose from 30 to 35, and the maximum stay increased to three years.
The same changes will apply to British nationals going to New Zealand on the scheme from 1 July 2023.