The head of Germany’s Christian Social Union, Horst Seehofer, has indicated that he might support a position where asylum seekers are allowed to settle in the country if they are able to gain employment and learn the language. He is currently Germany’s Minister for the Interior, and a member of Chancellor Merkel’s coalition government. The coalition is due to discuss a new immigration law, and this position raises hopes that a compromise position may be possible between the parties.
The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been supportive of letting more skilled migrants enter Germany from non-EEA countries, as the German job market has continued to experience shortages. However, some disagreements within the coalition have revolved around whether asylum seekers already in the country should be allowed to stay if they demonstrate employability and the ability to integrate with the society.
Reuters’ reporting of this story can be found here.
The German government is considering a review of its visa and immigration system in the light of the current climate of low unemployment and an ageing population, which is making it difficult for employers to fill medium skilled roles. The current system in Germany allows people to come into the country if they have formal qualifications and a highly skilled job. It also allows people to enter Germany to look for highly skilled job on a job-seekers visa and then secure a job in-country. What it does not provide for is for migrants to access jobs which require vocational as opposed to academic qualifications. Yet, this category accounts for 60 percent of available jobs in Germany.
The proposed new system is yet to be fleshed out. What is known is that it is to take into consideration such things as a person’s qualifications, age, language skills and financial situation. Yet, is it not to be a points based system. The UK, Australia and Canada by contrast currently operate points based systems, allocating points to migrants based on such criteria as their formal qualifications, age, availability of a job offer, etc. If a person scores enough points, they get the visa, and there is little or no discretion in the application of the rules. It will be interesting to see what Germany comes up with as an alternative to the points based system favoured by others, and whether it will achieve the aim of attracting medium skilled workers to their economy while reasonably restricting migrant access to social welfare packages.