German authorities simplify visa process for skilled Russian workers

Sanctions against Russia have led to a spike in skilled workers looking to emigrate - and Germany is giving some of them a helping hand.

Basilius Cathedral Moscow
The towers of the Basilius Cathedral in Moscow. Photo: picture alliance / Thomas Hodel/KEYSTONE/dpa | Thomas Hodel

According to reports by DPA, German authorities have stepped in to remove bureaucratic hurdles for Russian visa applications amid a spike in migration since the war. 

Under the new conditions, Russian workers who who earn at least €43,992 a year and who want to transfer to Germany with their current employer will be granted “global access to the labour market”. 

This special status means they can be automatically granted a long-term visa rather than applying for one through Germany’s Federal Employment Agency. The scheme will provisionally run until September but can be extended if necessary. 

Along with the fast-track visas, German authorities have also taken steps to make the application process easier for Russians who could face difficulties in getting appointments or providing documents.

According to media reports, embassies are now accepting documents submitted via email rather than requesting original copies by post. This is because no postal services are currently running between Germany and Russia.

In addition, embassies are offering group visa appointments for multiple employees within the same company, since many firms are deciding to transfer whole departments to Germany in the wake of the war. 

EU visas have been in the spotlight recently as the Commission is examining whether their “golden passport” schemes for wealthy individuals have allowed Russian oligarchs to launder their ill-gotten gains. 

However, there’s also been speculation that the bloc will offer easier routes for skilled Russians to emigrate as a means of worsening the country’s brain drain and benefiting from the skills of well-qualified Russian immigrants.

READ ALSO: ‘Shady characters’: Will EU countries now put an end to ‘golden passport’ schemes?

Russian emigration

Since the beginning of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, hundreds of skilled workers from Russia have decided to move to Germany – the vast majority of whom already work for a German company.

Russian employees of international companies have been particularly hard hit by the sanctions, with many facing an uncertain professional future after the invasion.  

“In April, around 350 visas for the purpose of gainful employment were issued to Russian nationals in Moscow,” the Foreign Office has stated.

In St. Petersburg, the German Consulate General reportedly issued 190 work visas in the same month.

German immigration attorneys have also reported a spike in the number of visa application cases they have supported Russians with in recent months. 

“We have assisted with more than 400 applications for work visas from Russian citizens who want to come to Germany in the weeks since the war began,” said Katharina Vorländer, a lawyer at Fragomen Global LLP in Frankfurt am Main, a law firm specialising in labour migration. 

According to Vorländer, around 30 percent of these applicants have already made it to Germany. This was only possible due to the support of the German authorities, she said. 

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany has taken in around 600,000 Ukrainian refugees. People who were living in Ukraine at the date of Russia’s invasion on February 24th are currently entitled to live and work anywhere in the EU without a visa. 

READ ALSO: EU countries agree to lift visa rules for Ukrainians fleeing war

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Germany could have 86 million people by 2030, report claims

Deutsche Bank Research has revealed that Germany is experiencing its highest influx of newcomers since 1990.

Germany could have 86 million people by 2030, report claims

If researchers are right, Germany’s population in 2030 will be 86 million, an increase of about five million over 2011 numbers. Although the country’s low birth rate has risen slightly in recent years, immigration and newcomers make up for most of that bump.

Around 329,000 people moved to Germany last year. That’s similar to the numbers seen before the pandemic. In the last few months of 2021, refugees from Syria and Afghanistan made up a considerable part of the total, according to researchers.

Deutsche Bank projects that number will be much higher this year, and are already predicting that 1.3 million Ukrainians will have come to Germany over the course of 2022 as Russia wages war on their homeland.

Analysts also reckon that a smaller, but still significant number of Ukrainians—about 260,000—will come to Germany in 2023.

That brings up two big questions: firstly, how long the war will last and secondly, whether Ukrainians who fled to Germany will end up staying long-term.

Report authors say Ukrainians in particular are well-placed to find jobs in Germany due to their relatively high qualifications and the country’s skilled labour shortage. About half a million skilled labour jobs in Germany are unfilled in everything from social work to education and information technology.

READ ALSO: Germany looks to foreign workers to ease ‘dramatic’ labour shortage

The Deutschland Monitor, as the report is called, also highlighted a few other notable findings.

Arrivals from Syria, Romania, and Afghanistan made up the top three in 2021.

In fourth spot, almost 24,000 new arrivals in Germany in 2021 came from India. Researchers say Berlin’s largely English-speaking start-up scene is particularly attractive to skilled technology jobseekers.

Researchers say that, in general, the report is a positive news story—with economic boosts expected that could help to address Germany’s skilled labour shortage.

However, the report cautions of the risk that an increasing population will put further pressure on the housing market.

READ ALSO: Energy crisis to labour shortage: Five challenges facing Germany right now