The earlier Green Card scheme in Germany which was mainly targeted at attracting IT professionals had attracted a large number of Indians to live and work there. However, now Germany’s new Immigration Act, which has replaced the Green Card scheme, too is focused on attracting more skilled workers to Germany in areas such as natural sciences, engineering, technology, academicians and scientists. In fact, the new immigration policy does not limit itself to IT and addresses the broader issue of huge skills shortages across the economy and an ageing workforce. Germany has been easing rules for highly skilled workers to move to the country and gain permanent residence status.
In fact, the new immigration Act, provides for highly qualified persons to be granted permanent residence and permission to work from the beginning, rather than five-year work permits as was previously the case. For this, the applicants have to have a job offer and get permission from the German employment agency. The new rules have also removed a lot of red tape and applicants can now get their papers including work and residence permits processed at one central place which is the German embassy in their home country.
Another big advantage is that family members of highly skilled workers, too, can now work in Germany, thus making it simpler for families to relocate. Self-employed Indians, too, will be able to move to Germany now under the new law, provided they invest one million euros and create ten new German jobs.
Over last 2-3 years the number of Indians applying for permanent residence permits seems to be increasing.
With the number of Indian students going to study in Germany is steadily increasing over the years, the new scheme to allow foreign graduates of German universities an extra year to look for jobs after they finish their courses is seen as a huge advantage. Previously it was difficult for foreign students to remain in Germany upon completion of their studies.
Germany has always been a very popular destination for Indian students in the fields of technology and sciences. Exchanges of students and young researchers are a pillar of the Indo-German academic partnership which paves the way for research co-operation.
Over the last decade, the number of Indian students in Germany has grown five times. For a certain segment of students from India, Germany is the most preferred foreign campus destination with its top class research facilities. For international students, the choice of courses is wide and varied. There are 376 higher education institutions including 102 universities, 170 universities of applied sciences with a strong practical orientation, 69 private colleges working closely with industry and 53 state recognized colleges of art, music and film. Also, there are at present around 1000 programs where the medium of instruction is English.
The cost of education in Germany is very low compared to various other countries. German universities have affordable tuition fees as they are subsidised by public funds. Indian students would pay around Rs 4.5 lakh per year for higher studies in Germany. They are also allowed to work part-time for 180 half days off-campus per year. The language barrier is not a problem for international degree programs where the language of choice is almost always English. For all other programs, proof of German language proficiency needs to be provided for which there are two options: the TestDaF and the DSH. Both test writing, reading and listening skills and have an oral exam as well. Germany needs IT specialists and engineers for research projects, thus making it easy for students to find employment after they finish their courses. Today, Indians account for the highest incomes among immigrants and most of them are professionals in fields such as medicine, science and business.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) facilitates scholarships and has been actively helping Indian students to study in Germany. A new milestone is the agreement signed between IIT Chennai and Germany to jointly promote education and research.
Studies or research are the best way to get in touch with German companies who prefer highly skilled individuals. Highly qualified persons such as scientists, and chief executives don’t face a problem in taking up job in Germany. But for individuals seeking jobs in the private sector, a minimum annual income of EUR 85,000 is a must to get a work permit.
An area where the German immigration authorities have become more strict is in making it necessary for the spouses of work permit holders to have knowledge of German. Spouses of work permit holders working in Germany for a temporary period may get exemption from the condition of having knowledge of German language. However, if the work permit holder and the spouse are willing to stay in Germany for a longer period, it makes sense and it is also helpful for integration in the German society if at least them is able to speak basic German.
Indians generally possess qualifications and experience good enough to get top jobs in Germany. The presence of skilled Indians is seen across sectors such as business, banking and IT. Business is another area where Indians have done well in Germany.