Legal framework

Since 2011, the German International Placement Service has been responsible for the admission of foreign skilled workers and apprentices. If you want to hire a foreign skilled worker in Germany, you have to consider numerous legal aspects. These vary depending on the nationality of the person. Skilled workers from the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland have free access to the German labour market. They have the same legal status as German skilled workers.

However, you should always check that the professional qualification is recognised. Indeed, this check is an essential prerequisite for the “regulated professions” in Germany. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy defines these as: “Professions for which the take-up and pursuit requires ownership of a specific professional qualification by law, legislation or administrative provisions.” These include, for example, doctors, nurses, teachers and public service officials.

What special aspects do we need to consider in respect of third-country nationals?

Third-country nationals have to apply for a visa in their country of origin for entry into Germany for the purposes of employment and then have to apply to the relevant foreigners’ registration office for a residence permit for the purposes of employment.

For this special residence permit to be issued, the foreign skilled worker needs, amongst other things, approval from the Federal Employment Agency. This is obtained by the foreigners’ registration office during application for the residence permit. However, you also have the option of initiating an “advance approval procedure”. That way, you can check, before your skilled worker enters Germany, whether your job offer and the employment contract meet all the requirements.

You can take advantage of this procedure if you already have a particular skilled worker in mind or if you want to be sure before starting to look for one that recruitment of a third-country national is possible.

When do we need approval from the Federal Employment Agency?

You do not need approval in the following cases:

  • EU Blue Card holders
  • Highly qualified individuals who have a) a settlement permit b) a German university degree appropriate to the post to be filled.
  • Executives a) with general power of attorney or commercial power of attorney b) on the executive board, the board of directors or the senior management of a company that operates inside and outside Germany.
  • Shareholders of commercial companies.
  • Teachers, research assistants, guest researchers, engineers and technicians who belong to a foreign research team, but are working in Germany.
  • School leavers from German schools abroad who possess the qualifications necessary for the post to be filled.

You do need approval in the following cases:

  • Skilled workers in a “shortage occupation” with a salary of a least 37,752 euros (as at 2015).
  • Graduates with a foreign university degree.
  • Specialists and executives whose companies are headquartered in Germany and who are being relocated to Germany.
  • Foreigners that have acquired professional vocational training in Germany in an officially recognised or similarly regulated training occupation.
  • Skilled workers with foreign professional qualifications.