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German government to focus on attracting skilled migrants

German government to focus on attracting skilled migrants

Germany's coalition government has reached an agreement on immigration reform, which Berlin hopes will make the country more attractive to skilled workers from around the world.

In future, skilled workers from outside the European Union will be given six months to come to Germany to try and find work, provided they have a professional qualification and knowledge of German.

During their period of looking for work, the job-seekers will have to support themselves financially, according to the agreement, which was formalized by the cabinet.

There are currently rules allowing specially qualified people with a university degree to migrate to Germany.

The deal would not allow people to access Germany's welfare system or have the legal right to enter the country: the final say remains with the visa-issuing German embassy in the person's country of origin, and there is no right of appeal.

The Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Andrea Nahles made the announcement following a six-hour meeting with the leaders of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic party (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

The new legislation puts industry shortages and immigrants' qualifications at the centre of immigration policy. Additionally, the process for recognizing foreign qualifications will be speeded up.

It will also be made easier for would-be immigrants to learn German before they arrive.

Germany has an ageing population and needs immigrants to prop up its economy, however Merkel's opening of the borders to refugees in 2015 has complicated the issue, with many voters objecting to the influx.

The SPD had wanted asylum seekers who had found work but who had their asylum applications rejected to be able to remain, but the CSU had pushed back against the idea, arguing it would encourage unskilled migration.

"In the right of residence, we will define clear criteria for a reliable status for those who have leave to remain and who through gainful employment have secured their livelihood and are well integrated," the white paper says.

The aim is to give those with the leave to remain greater opportunities.

Labour Minister Hubertus Heil said: "A reliable status, in my reading of it, means that they can work here and not face repatriation."

Interior Minister Seehofer, an immigration hardliner, says that people from the list of countries the German government deems "safe" should not have the opportunity to work and should be deported.

The SPD had been pushing for rejected asylum seekers who are well integrated and who have a job to be taken out of the asylum process altogether, a so-called "lane change" in immigration policy.

When asked by reporters on Tuesday whether the "lane change" idea was still possible, Seehofer, who is also leader of the CSU, said: "What is all this theoretical discussion about terminology?"

(The news was first published at www.dpa-news.de)


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