Germany as a country of immigration
Germany has nothing to fear from comparisons with “traditional countries of immigration” such as the United States and Canada.
Currently, some 100 young men and women from Vietnam are being trained as carers for the elderly in Germany. If they are taken on after their training and work here for two to three years they will be granted a right to unlimited residence in the country. This is a win-win situation because there are far too few people qualified to look after the elderly in Germany while in Vietnam by contrast unemployment is very high, particularly among young people.
This pilot project was developed by the German Federal Government in cooperation with the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and Germany’s Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) – in the hope that residential homes for the elderly will put the model into practice. It is an example of just how creative and flexible Germany has become in its immigration policies. In its annual report for 2015, the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR) notes that “Germany is now considered one of the progressive countries of immigration.”
This is an opinion that surprises many people. “We are better than we think,” states SVR chair Christine Langenfeld. Since unification, Germany has become more diverse and more open. Today, Germany’s laws and regulations are increasingly taking account of the fact that the country needs highly-qualified immigrants. Often, public debate does not reflect this – one of the reasons for this being that many people simply do not know how much has changed over the past 25 years. Freedom of movement has long been a reality within the European Union: Everybody here can work wherever they wish. And academics from foreign, non-European countries can accept positions or come in search of work with something known as a “blue card” which greatly simplifies the bureaucracy involved. Moreover, in certain circumstances skilled workers such as plumbers, fitters and carers, are head-hunted and welcome, independent of their country of origin.
According to the experts, Germany has nothing to fear from comparisons with traditional countries of immigration such as the United States and Canada. Back in 2013 a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development noted that Germany is one of the OECD member states with the fewest obstacles to immigration for highly-qualified workers – there are no fixed annual limits, as is the case in the United States, for example; the requisite procedures are short and cheap. Additionally, it is now the case that Canada and Germany in particular have “seen considerable rapprochement” in their immigration policies, as the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration has noted.
Whereas, in the past, Canada regulated immigration entirely on the basis of the relevant applicant’s qualifications, today, as in Germany, an employment contract is the most important criterion. However, Germany now allows academics from non-EU countries to enter the country even if they do not have a firm job offer. They currently have a period of six months to find employment. And this trend will continue because the more the population ages, the less the focus is on the requirements made of job seekers. It has become increasingly important for the regulations to be presented in such a way as to make Germany an attractive option.