Germany: Options for British nationals post-Brexit

Germany: Options For British Nationals Post-Brexit

What are the options for British nationals post-Brexit in Germany?
Jun 07, 2021

What are the options for British nationals post-Brexit in Germany?


As per the Withdrawal Agreement aka Brexit Deal, all British citizens after January 1st, 2021 who are not in possession of a Residence Permit in Germany can enter Germany only for a maximum of 90 days within the 180-day period. These short stays are meant only for a purpose of travel or business trips. No other economic activities are permitted.


If however British citizens are willing to relocate to Germany for work purposes or residency, they are in need of a residence permit that might be applied for directly from Germany or through a German consulate abroad. In case the latter option is preferred, a D-type visa for long-term residency is required. Demand for entry visas is high post-Brexit and pre-approval must usually be obtained from the Employment Agency in Germany prior to applying for the entry visa at the Embassy. Candidates must meet various criteria and provide substantiating documents.


The rules outlined by the Federal Republic of Germany state that acceptance for foreign nationals in general employment depends on Germany’s economic needs. Both a vocational qualification and a detailed offer of employment are required. British citizens can also make the most of the Skilled Immigration Act, which came into force in March 2020 and simplifies the immigration procedure for specialists that are in short supply in Germany. These include mathematicians, scientists, engineers, doctors, as well as many other vocations where demand exceeds supply.


Are there any compliance risks that companies need to consider?


It is of key importance that companies are well informed of various compliance issues and keep them in mind at all times. One common issue results from the fact that UK and US citizens amongst several other nationalities that are considered best friends to Germany are allowed to enter Germany and then apply for a residence or work permit from within Germany. While this is the case, these citizens are not permitted to commence work until the permit has been issued. Some companies may not be aware that it is not permissible to start work immediately after application. The employer has to wait until the employee actually receives their respective permit or visa before starting work.


Intra-company transfers can also present compliance risks for companies. For one thing, it is critical that the visa is applied for before the transferee moves to Germany. This even applies to those countries that are usually given preferential treatment, such as the UK and the US amongst others. For intra-company transfers, it is also important that the branch in Germany belongs to the same company or group of companies as the branch where the employee is coming from. Additionally, the employee needs to be employed by the entity abroad at least six months prior to the assignment to Germany.


Are you aware of any legal changes to immigration rules and policies that might benefit people?


On March 1st, 2020, a new immigration law came into force in Germany, simplifying the procedure for people coming from outside the EU to work in Germany. This Skilled Immigration Act evolved as a result of a lack of qualified candidates such as engineers and nurses, and opened the labour market, meaning that visas that were previously reserved for EU members are now available for employees from outside the EU with recognised vocational training. It has also made searching for employment easier, as potential applicants can live in Germany for up to six months while searching, as long as they have the necessary professional qualifications, basic knowledge of German, and a secure livelihood. 


The visa procedure has also been simplified, with easy communication between local immigration authorities and employers, considerably speeding up the entire process. This new immigration law ensures that persons who have obtained a German university degree or vocational training in Germany have the possibility of permanent residence after two years as well as the possibility of residence after four years for qualified workers with a foreign degree.


Furthermore, there are some special deals for British citizens. For one, there are special arrangements that make it easier for British citizens to live in Germany post Brexit. The United Kingdom is also given special privileges along with some other countries including the United States, Israel, South Korea, Canada, and Japan. These privileges include the option of moving to Germany for residence purposes without having to obtain an entry immigrant visa. Citizens from these countries also profit from the fact that priority is no longer given to EU member countries when it comes to approving positions. Each of these rules can benefit people in the immigration process.


How does the EU card benefit people - can they work in other countries if they have a German EU card?


“Labour migration into Europe boosts our competitiveness and therefore our economic growth. It also helps tackle demographic problems resulting from our aging population.”


José Manuel Barroso, who served as European Commission President between 2004 and 2014, explains the motivation behind the EU Blue Card scheme. The EU Blue Card enables highly qualified residents of non-EU countries to work in Germany. It must be applied for before entering Germany and requires both a high level of education or professional experience and an employment contract or a binding offer of employment. There is a minimum earning threshold, which is lowered for jobs for which there is a shortage of workers, such as doctors, scientists, and mathematicians.


The EU Blue Card not only provides a path towards permanent residence and EU citizenship, its benefits also include working and salary conditions equal to nationals, access to certain rights such as unemployment benefits, good prospects for family reunifications, and free movement within the Schengen area (unless issued in Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus or Croatia).


Those who hold an EU Blue Card have the right to move to another EU country after having lived in Germany for 18 months. This is almost always possible without having to apply for an additional visa. However, in order to be able to work, you still need to apply for a work permit in this country. The difference is that this can be applied directly from the new country rather than through an embassy or a consulate. In some cases, the path to the work permit is also easier, but it is still necessary to get this permit!

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