Germany has presented its coveted new immigration law but the initial reviews have been mixed. A draft law had been long demanded and previously promised in the coalition agreement. The new regulations reform the current immigration law of 2004 as well as labor market integration beyond asylum policy but refugees are only briefly mentioned there.
The focus of the new law is on bringing skilled workers to Germany. The country is facing a shortage of nurses, technicians and craftsmen against the backdrop of its aging population. The German Chamber of Industry and Commerce estimates that the country lacks around 1.6 million qualified workers. It is in this context that the new immigration proposal has garnered a lot of appraisal from economists.
The Federal Association of German small- and medium-sized enterprises would like to see a fast implementation of the planned law including a liberal design of the immigration rules. “We are very pleased that the government parties now finally want to create a reasonable immigration law, which SMEs have long been demanding,” Association President Hermann Sturm commented. “In the competition for qualified employees or junior staff, small and medium-sized companies almost always have the disadvantage compared to large companies.”
While the details still need to be flashed out, the proposal hints that the criteria for residence permits will be based on the professional qualifications, age, language skills, and evidence of having a concrete job offer. The new law, however, also seeks to prevent immigrants from exploiting the generosity of the welfare system in Germany. As Wolfgang Steiger pointed out, “successful integration does not take place through welfare systems but only through the labor market. On the contrary, the abundant social care even promotes parallel societies and inhibits integration.”