Important Updates on Germany's Rules for International Students, Job Seekers, and Families

Discover the latest changes in Germany's regulations that affect international students, job seekers, and families. Learn about increased working hours for students, shorter paths to citizenship, opportunities for parents, and more.

Sep 22, 2023 - 18:32
Important Updates on Germany's Rules for International Students, Job Seekers, and Families

In recent times, Germany has rolled out a series of new regulations that have far-reaching implications for international students, families, and job seekers. These changes have been introduced to make life more accommodating for international individuals looking to pursue opportunities in Germany. This comprehensive blog post will delve into seven critical updates, six of which are positive and one not-so-good news for those planning to come to Germany. Let's start with the good news, particularly relevant to students.

1. Extended Working Hours for Students

One of the most exciting updates for international students in Germany is the increase in allowed working hours. As of now, students can work for 120 full days or 240 half days in a year. However, there's a new law under consideration that would boost these limits to 140 full days or 280 half days annually. This means students would have 20 more full days to work each year, potentially earning an extra 2000 euros, assuming minimum wage rates. For most students, the hourly rate tends to be higher, making this change even more advantageous.

The increase in working hours not only means extra income for students but also provides them with more work experience, contributing to both personal and economic growth.

2. 5-Year Path to Citizenship

Germany's federal cabinet has approved a significant change in the citizenship law. Now, individuals can apply for citizenship after just five years of legal residence in Germany, as opposed to the previous requirement of 7 to 8 years. Furthermore, if you possess extraordinary German skills and achievements, this duration can be further reduced to just 3 years. An additional advantage is that dual citizenship is now permitted, allowing you to retain your original nationality.

These changes make obtaining German citizenship more accessible and appealing for foreigners, fostering a more inclusive environment.

3. Long-Term Stay for Parents

Previously, the rules for bringing parents to Germany were restrictive, allowing a maximum stay of only 3 months on a visit visa. However, a new rule is set to make reuniting with your parents in Germany easier. While the details still need to be fully clarified, it's expected that people who arrive with a Blue Card after March 2024 will be able to take advantage of this opportunity.

The potential to have parents stay in Germany for an extended period is a significant benefit for families, as it facilitates family reunification.

4. Changes in Blue Card Eligibility

Like a work permit, the Blue Card has seen some noteworthy changes. Previously, the salary threshold for non-STEM fields was 58,000 euros annually; for STEM fields, it was 45,000 euros. These thresholds have been lowered, with non-STEM fields now requiring around 43,000 euros annually and STEM fields around 39,000 euros annually. Additionally, more fields have been added to the list of bottleneck professions, widening the eligibility criteria.

Learning Point for Your Audience: Lower salary thresholds make it easier for professionals to obtain the coveted Blue Card, ultimately benefiting both individuals and the German economy.

5. Emphasis on Professional Experience

In a significant shift, Germany places less emphasis on degrees and more on professional experience. This change comes with three sub-news updates:

  1. Individuals will be able to seek jobs in fields unrelated to their degree.
  2. IT-related professionals with sufficient experience will no longer require formal degrees to qualify for the Blue Card.
  3. A foreign degree equivalent to German standards is expected to become more convenient, provided you have relevant work experience.

These changes create more flexible pathways for career growth in Germany, particularly for those with valuable professional experience.

6. Opportunity Card for Job Seekers

Introducing the "Opportunity Card," a job search visa that allows individuals to search for employment in Germany for up to 1 year, extendable as needed. During this time, job seekers can work part-time for up to 20 hours per week, helping cover living expenses. The Opportunity Card operates on a points-based system, where you need to accumulate 6 points based on various criteria.

The Opportunity Card provides a practical alternative for job seekers, reducing the constraints of location and allowing for a more relaxed job search experience.

7. The Bad News: Tuition Fees in Public Universities

While most of the updates are positive, there is one significant downside. The number-one public university in Germany, the Technical University of Munich (TUM), has introduced tuition fees. This is a stark departure from Germany's reputation for offering free education. TUM will charge international students from third-world countries, while European Union students will still enjoy free education.

While some universities have introduced tuition fees, free education in Germany is not entirely eradicated. Germany continues to invest in education to address its skilled labor shortage.

In conclusion, these recent changes in Germany's regulations have opened new opportunities and eased pathways for international students, job seekers, and families. While some hurdles still need clarification, these developments indicate Germany's commitment to remaining an attractive destination for global talent.