Without immigration, many job positions in European countries remain vacant. The pandemic has not only made immigration even more difficult, it also slowed down the efforts of the German government to attract nurses and other skilled workers.
According to Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly slowed down the much-needed immigration of skilled workers from outside the European Union.
"We are not seeing the development we had hoped for, but also not a complete abatement," a BAMF employee said. After a slump in the spring of 2020 the numbers slowly picked up in the second half of 2020 -- this shows that "processes are underway," the employee added.
Major reasons for the slowdown, BAMF said, were travel bans by some countries and closed or only partially working embassies. Moreover, according to BAMF, some countries were trying to keep workers at home, among them those who work in the health and care sectors.
Nevertheless, some nurses and other health workers were still immigrating to Germany: 4,500 visas were issued in these areas from January to September 2020. Yet BAMF said it was still far away from running the accelerated skilled worker program at full capacity.
BAMF stressed that the interest for skilled foreign workers among German employers remains high. Among other things, a hotline set up for this purpose has seen an increased number of calls lately.
Even though in the spring the government had to postpone a campaign to attract staff from abroad, BAMF said it was nevertheless preparing to support immigration to Germany, for example by means of an exchange platform between the central foreigners' offices that have been installed in some German states.
Germany's Skilled Immigration Act, or "Fachkräftezuwanderungsgesetz," came into force in March of last year. It allows foreigners from non-EU countries and with certain skills to apply for work permits, and move to Germany using legal channels.
•••• ➤ On the website Make it in Germany, you can check whether you qualify for immigration, search current job openings, and find more information about visa regulations and other bureaucratic procedures.