FRANKFURT — Germany has started implementing a new law that relaxes the visa rules for nurses, information technology (IT) specialists, workers with vocational training certificates and other technical jobs badly needed by Europe’s richest country.
Under the new law, called Fachkraefteeinwanderungsgesetz (or “Skilled Workers Immigration Law”) and implemented since March, anyone who is qualified and speaks good German can get a six-months visa to look for a job. Anyone who has passed vocational training that meets German standards will be given a working visa, provided the worker has passed at least B1-level German language tests administered by the Goethe Institut.
German critics said the language requirement should be scrapped because it means a prospective worker must fork out a small fortune to be able to study German in a local Goethe Institut.
The new law also created a new agency to speed up the visa processing, which had previously taken up to six months. The goal now is three weeks.
Agency board member Daniel Terzenbach said workers from South America, the Balkan states and Asia, particularly Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines were of particular interest.
Germany lacks about 1.2 million skilled workers mainly in construction, health and nursing, gastronomy and IT sectors. The nursing branch has been pinpointed as the most critical sector because the elderly population is growing.
A survey jointly conducted by trade union Verdi and three associations of nursing agencies revealed that as of December 2019, more than 50,000 nurses were needed by German hospitals.
A study by the German Economic Institute has calculated that up to around 307,000 nurses and caregivers are need by 2035. It expects around 4.53 million people would be in need of care by 2060. The number of those age over 60 and above is steadily rising because of good medical care in Germany plus the low birth rate.
Digital industry lobby group Bitkom estimates that Germany currently lacks around 124,000 IT experts. “We expect that foreign IT specialists can now be employed in a more simple and faster way,” said spokesperson Andreas Streim, adding his group has been seeking to scrap the German language requirement for the IT sector.