Skilled Workers Immigration Act 2.0 opens new doors

On 18th November, the first stage of the new “Skilled Workers Immigration Act” takes effect. It means that a lower salary threshold will apply to workers who enter the country via the “Blue Card” scheme. Skilled workers from non-regulated occupations whose foreign qualifications are recognized in Germany are now allowed to work in other fields as well.

16 Nov 2023 | Press release no.50

The “Blue card” thresholds for minimum annual salaries are falling

Several changes have been introduced which have the goal of opening the doors further for foreign skilled workers in Germany. This applies, for example, to the previous salary threshold on which the EU Blue Card scheme was based. The EU Blue Card is a residence permit for citizens of non-EU member states which allows people to take up gainful employment in the EU. The salary threshold is falling from 58,400 to 43,800 euros from 2023, and will be 39,682.80 euros for new entrants and persons hoping to work in shortage occupations. The list of “shortage occupations” is also being expanded. These are occupations in which there are currently shortages of labour in Germany. Occupations such as construction managers and teachers have now been added. This means that more applicants are now able to enter Germany via the Blue Card scheme.

Changing sector now possible for certain occupations

Skilled workers in non-regulated occupations who have completed a course of vocational training abroad which is recognized in Germany were previously only able to work in the same occupational field. These skilled workers are now allowed to work in other sectors. This means that a baker from abroad is now allowed to take up a position in the kitchen of a catering business, for example. This will provide new opportunities to both applicants and companies and help make the labour market more flexible.

Welcoming more workers from the Western Balkan countries is now possible

In the first stage, what is known as the “Western Balkans regulation” is also being amended. This regulation allows the citizens of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia easier access to the German labour market. From next June, the quota under the Western Balkans regulation, i.e. the upper limit for labour market approvals, is being increased from 25,000 to 50,000.

Increasing numbers of workers from the Western Balkans have been contributing to employment in Germany in recent years. In March 2016, when the Western Balkans regulation came into force, there were approximately 219,000 employees in roles paying social security contributions in Germany who were citizens of one of the Western Balkan countries, of whom some 31,000 were working in the construction industry. In March 2023, with their number having risen steadily, there were 462,000 employees in roles paying social security contributions, of whom 87,000 were working in the construction industry.

If you have any questions about immigration, please contact the Customer Center of the International Placement Services (available in German) of the of the BA.

If you have any questions about the recognition of foreign qualifications, the Central Service Center for Professional Recognition (ZSBA) of the BA (available in German) can provide you with help.