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The Integration through Qualification (IQ) department for advice and training services about its experience with Section 17a of the Residence Act

17 January 2018 - People who come from abroad and are interested in acquiring or enhancing their professional skills to be able to enter the German labour market can choose between a number of options. Section 17a of the Residence Act regulates, for example, the possibility for people who have acquired their professional qualifications abroad to have these recognised in Germany by means of attending a training programme. The Integration through Qualification (IQ) support programme offers such training programmes for many occupations in order to bridge major differences between a given occupation in Germany and abroad. The training programmes are financed by funds from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) and the European Social Fund (ESF).

An interview with Lea Bohn, academic research assistant at the Integration through Qualification (IQ) department for advice and training services, provides insights into the status of implementation of Section 17a of the Residence Act. For all enquiries relating to this topic, please contact Ms Lea Bohn, email:; phone:  +49 0911 27779-26 


Ms Bohn, can you give us more details about the application and administrative procedure within the scope of Section 17a of the Residence Act?

The application procedure according to Section 17a of the Residence Act is based on a recognition certificate, which determines whether an applicant seeking recognition of his/her professional qualifications needs to complete a training programme following an assessment of equivalence. An equivalence assessment may be applied for from abroad. Applications for the recognition of professional qualifications are to be submitted together with supporting documents, such as certificates of attendance from the respective training providers, and evidence of language skills and financing documents from the German representation abroad. Applicants who are already in Germany, (e.g. to attend a German language course as permitted under Section 16b of the Residence Act) can also contact the Foreigners Authority directly. Training measures that are predominantly carried out in a company additionally require the approval of the Federal Employment Agency. As for visas, these can be issued for a maximum period of 18 months to allow an applicant to attend a training programme.

How many applications relating to Section 17a of the Residence Act have been processed so far?

There is no information available on the number of applications processed so far.  However, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has been carrying out a quarterly analysis of the number of residence permits issued since June 2016. From June to December 2016, a total of 350 residence permits were issued in accordance with Section 17a(1) and (5) of the Residence Act. In the first quarter of 2017, this figure rose to 283. According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, as at 31 October 2017, a total of 929 persons had obtained residence permits under Section 17a subsections (1) and (2) of the Residence Act. 

As regards the training courses provided under the IQ support programme, a total of 247 persons with a residence status under Section 17a of the Residence Act participated in a training programme between August 2015 and October 2017.

In which countries have the skilled workers who through the IQ support programme are undertaking additional training in order to obtain full recognition of their professional qualifications under Section 17a of the Residence Act completed their professional training and in which occupation do they intend to work in Germany?

If we look at the participants of the IQ support programme, most people - namely 17 per cent - have acquired their professional qualifications in the Philippines, 11 per cent in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and another 10 per cent in China. Some 98 per cent of the participants are seeking an occupation in the healthcare sector. The occupations of physician and nurse rank among the top professions at 46 and 45 per cent respectively.

What assistance does the IQ support programme offer to help implement Section 17a of the Residence Act? 

Together with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the IQ department for advice and training services and the IQ department for immigration organised an expert discussion on the subject of Section 17a of the Residence Act in September 2016 as part of the visa offices’ further training weeks.  The event marked the kick-off for the process of drawing up guidelines which describe the administrative implementation of Section 17a of the Residence Act with a focus on practical application, whilst taking into account the perspectives of all stakeholders. Virtual training courses and other exchange formats on this topic are planned for 2018. The IQ departments will use these formats to support stakeholders in implementing Section 17a of the Residence Act. The guidelines on Section 17a of the Residence Act and additional information will be published on the website of the IQ department for advice and training services in the near future.  

Ms Bohn, thank you very much for the interview!

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