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An expert explains the fast-track procedure for skilled workers

22 September 2020 – Even in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses in particular industries in Germany have an ongoing need for qualified professionals. If these skilled workers come from non-EU states, they need a visa before they can migrate here. Since the Skilled Immigration Act came into force, employers have been able to initiate the visa process for their future workers under the fast-track procedure for skilled workers. We put together key aspects of the procedure in a brief conversation with Gerald Heinrich Menche, head of department for a Foreigners' Authority in Hesse and consultant and trainer for seminars and workshops on asylum and immigration law.

1. The fast-track procedure for skilled workers (section 81a AufenthG) gives employers the opportunity to accelerate the visa process for a particular qualified professional from a third country. In what cases is a fast-track procedure possible?

The fast-track procedure for skilled workers is an option for all people from abroad who require a visa and who want to migrate to Germany for the purposes of taking up employment or vocational training under the terms of the Skilled Immigration Act (FEG). The procedure is also applicable to the visa process for spouses and minor unmarried children travelling with them.

2. A fee of 411 euros is charged at the start of the procedure. What benefits does the fast-track procedure for skilled workers give employers?

With a power of attorney for the prospective worker, the future employer or training provider acts as the point of contact with the Foreigners' Authority. He or she enters into an agreement with the Foreigners' Authority on all the necessary steps and the documents to be presented. The aim is for the authority to ultimately reach a positive decision in the form of preliminary approval for the visa. Within three weeks of receipt of the preliminary approval, the German mission abroad will offer the qualified professional an appointment to apply for the visa. A decision on the visa application should be made within three weeks after completing the application.

3. According to the law, the central Foreigners' Authority is the point of contact for the procedure. What are the tasks of the Foreigners' Authority in the fast-track procedure for skilled workers?

According to the law, in each federal state at least one Foreigners' Authority is to handle the immigration procedure for migrants under the FEG. In Hesse, the Ministry of the Interior has transferred this task to every Foreigners' Authority that already exists.

In contrast with other official acts, the Foreigners' Authority takes on additional tasks that are generally to be performed by the applicant in application processes, which is why higher fees are charged. Thus, for instance, the Foreigners' Authority is also to be involved in the procedure for assessing the equivalence of professional qualifications.

4. What happens if the results of the professional recognition do not turn out positive?

If the equivalence of a qualification with German professional qualifications cannot be established under any circumstances, it is not possible to grant preliminary approval for the visa. If shortcomings can be overcome, however, it is possible to switch to the corresponding residence permit and the visa process required to that end.

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