Germany wants to further expand digitization and facilitates visa proceedings for IT specialists

The Covid 19 pandemic has shown that Germany needs to catch up in terms of digitization. It is obvious that the importance of information technology (IT) will continue to grow: Virtual work, machine learning (“artificial intelligence”), and digital communication are the future in all major economic sectors. Therefore, the German labor market offers foreign IT security experts and programmers steadily growing opportunities, for example in the field of application development and the FinTech sector.

The federal government wants to expand the information sectors

Germany wants to make massive upgrades in the IT sector. However, there is a shortage of specialists. Since 2010, the number of specialists presumed to be lacking in the IT sector has continued to rise every year. Currently, Germany has a shortage of approximately 96,000 IT specialists, according to estimates by certain interest groups. Also, two-thirds of the surveyed companies noted an internal shortage of IT experts. To solve this issue, one frequently discussed option is to recruit IT specialists from third countries: Already in 2019, 11% of employees in IT professions had a foreign nationality, of which 64% of those who entered originally came from outside Europe, whereby migrants from India, China, Russia, and Turkey made up the largest share of employees.

IT specialist immigration from e. g. China, India, Russia, and Turkey favored by law

To further encourage such immigration, German lawmakers have created special migration regulations for IT professionals. In this respect, IT professionals from third countries have a more favorable legal position than other foreign professionals with regard to entry to and residence in Germany. What does this mean for Chinese, Indian, Russian, or Turkish IT specialists?

The EU Blue Card for IT professionals with a university degree

For example, the EU Blue Card, which is preferred for academically educated specialists, has lower salary requirements for the so-called “MINT” subjects. This applies, for example, to all computer scientists, engineers, and doctors (except dentistry). If a salary of around 56,000 euros is normally required for the Blue Card, an income of around 44,000 euros is already sufficient in the case of mathematics and science subjects. Also, the recognition of degrees is a lot easier in the IT sector. For example, the Central Office for Foreign Education of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany has determined that many Indian (e.g., from IIT Kharagpur, IIT Bombay, or IIT Delhi) and Chinese (e.g., from Peking University and Tsinghua University) degrees are comparable to German educational requirements. Therefore, two of the biggest hurdles are eliminated for IT professionals from India and China. This means that Chinese, Indian, Russian, or Turkish IT specialists will faster be able to successfully complete an immigration procedure for Germany.

Residence Permits for IT Professionals without University Degrees

Another advantage for IT-Professionals is that a special form of a residence permit has been established (“employment in selected occupations with pronounced practical professional knowledge”). While normally a recognized university degree or vocational qualification is required for entry and residence for the immigration of skilled workers, it is sufficient for IT specialists if they have gained at least three years of professional experience in the IT sector in the last seven years. In addition, a minimum gross annual salary of around 50,000 euros is required. In certain cases, sufficient German language skills (CEFRL B1 certificate from the Goethe Institute in China, India, Russia, and Turkey) are also expected. In case of doubt, a lawyer for migration and immigration law can answer whether the language skills are necessary in the individual case.

What are the first steps?

If the above-mentioned requirements are met, the first step is to apply for a visa. For Indian professionals, the German embassy in New Delhi is responsible, and for Chinese immigrants, the embassy in Beijing. The embassy will receive and check the documents in coordination with the foreigners’ authority and then inform about the further procedure. Since some of the requirements may differ in individual cases, it is advisable to consult a lawyer for migration law during the process.

After successful immigration, IT specialists from China, India, Russia, and Turkey can apply for the so-called family reunification and the permanent settlement permit under eased conditions. As a long-term perspective, even obtaining German citizenship (naturalization) will be realistic for Chinese, Indian, Russian, or Turkish IT specialists.