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New rules for labor immigration to the EU in 2023: information by country

How have the rules for labor immigration to the European Union changed in 2023? Many countries have liberalized entry conditions in order to attract valuable professionals from around the world and eliminate the shortage of qualified personnel. Consider the key innovations.

Member states of the European Union are facing labor shortages. Particularly acute shortages of personnel are observed in a number of areas that require skilled labor, including health care and information technology. The lack of workers is also characteristic of agriculture and construction.

To address this problem, the authorities of individual EU Member States are taking new measures at the national level, in addition to those taken at the EU level as a whole. Since January 1, 2023, there have been more such measures. Some countries have either already implemented innovations in terms of the rules for entering their national territory and working in certain areas, or have warned about the imminent implementation of new rules.

The relevant list includes the simplification of the rules for filing applications for a residence permit and the extension of the validity of a residence permit. The key changes are listed below, followed by a brief description.

The German government changes the law on skilled workers

The German government has been working on reforming its immigration policy for some time now, aiming to make it easier for foreign workers to move to German territory. The priority is to intensify the influx of specialists with extensive experience in targeted areas that Germany desperately needs to maintain a strong economy.

In 2023, the reform of the law “On Immigration of Qualified Persons” adopted in 2020 accelerated, thanks to which 50,000 educated foreigners arrived in the country within only the first year after the implementation of the document. Officials have already warned about the changes that will affect the Blue Card. This document will become more accessible to a greater number of specialists with higher education.

The innovations will also allow non-EU citizens to move to Germany to work without having to go through formal recognition procedures for their diplomas and professional qualifications. If necessary, this procedure can be carried out after arrival in Germany, and not abroad.

Foreigners who have not concluded contracts with employers in Germany will be able to obtain a one-year residence permit in the future, allowing them to come to German territory to look for work. A similar visa for looking for work in 2022 was introduced by the Portuguese authorities.

Slovenia urgently corrects legislation on the employment of foreigners

Another European country planning facilitation for foreign workers is Slovenia. At the beginning of March 2023, the Slovenian government submitted a relevant bill for urgent consideration in the National Assembly.

With the proposed amendments, the government wants to make it possible for third-country nationals (hereinafter referred to as non-EU states) to obtain residence permits and registration certificates through faster procedures. It is also planned to provide foreigners who are going to move to Slovenia with free language courses.

The plans of Slovenian officials include the issuance of residence permits and their renewal by mail. The Slovenian authorities want to store biometrics (fingerprints) of immigrants for five years so that they can be used to renew residence permits.

Several more simplifications will be introduced, including the removal of the requirement to provide written confirmation from local governments when changing employers.

Denmark updates lists of in-demand specialists and country quotas

On January 1, 2023, Denmark updated the lists of specialists that the island country needs to fill existing vacancies. There are two lists. The first concerns people with higher education and currently contains 40 professions. The second list, which includes 36 in-demand professions, concerns skilled workers.

The Danish government has also announced the granting of 75 residence permits under the Working Holiday program to citizens of Chile and Argentina, which will run from March 1 to August 31, 2023. Residence permits will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis.

Italy raises work permit quota for 2023 and simplifies employment rules for foreigners

Italy has increased the work permit quota for foreign unskilled workers and applicants from third countries applying for a start-up visa. The quota for 2023 has reached 82,705. This is 7,000 more than last year and also 12,000 more than in 2021. The Italian government has announced the end of the practice of setting such quotas annually. From now on, threshold levels will be set every three years.

Local officials have made a number of changes to the laws on foreign workers. In particular, the procedure for initiating labor relations between foreigners and Italian companies has been simplified. The procedure for providing a document on the absence of obstacles to hiring seasonal workers has been accelerated.

From now on, companies operating in the agricultural sector will have priority in hiring workers over companies from other industries.

Finland speeds up processing of residence permit applications for foreign workers

Finland has reduced the processing time for residence permit applications submitted by foreign workers. The duration of the procedure is now approximately 1 month. The innovation will affect all applications, including those submitted before the entry into force of the relevant amendments to the legislation at the end of February 2023.

The authorities have automated the application procedures for both workers and employers. The latter will be responsible for checking the professional skills of workers, which means that foreign specialists will have to submit much less documents on professional skills.

The validity of the country of origin identification document submitted by the labor immigrant will no longer affect the validity of the residency permit. Therefore, if a foreign worker has an identification document recognized as valid at the time of application, the Finnish authorities will accept his application for processing.

Estonia changes own financial requirements for foreign workers

In March 2023, the Estonian government announced an increase in the own funds threshold for foreigners registering for the first time for short-term work on a national “D” visa.

Proof of funds of at least €1,200 in savings per month or monthly salary of the same amount is now required. Persons wishing to move to Estonia to work in new companies or as seasonal workers, when applying for a visa, will need to prove the presence of one and a half times less (from 800 euros).

From July 2023, a requirement for knowledge of the Estonian language at a level not lower than A2 (a basic level sufficient to communicate on everyday topics) is introduced for labor migrants. There is an exemption for applicants for an EU Blue Card or a residence permit to work as an academic staff, as well as for immigrants using the intra-corporate transfer mechanism.

Bulgaria simplifies the rules for obtaining a Blue Card

Bulgaria has relieved applicants for a Blue Card to work in this country from the need to confirm their higher education. The changes were approved by the Bulgarian National Assembly in the second reading in January 2023. The decision was made to support local companies from the information technology sector, which are experiencing an acute shortage of IT specialists. Appropriate employers require about 50,000 specialists.

Changes for foreign workers introduced by other EU countries

Many other EU countries have also introduced similar changes in an effort to make it easier for skilled third-country nationals to move and work on their territory.

On January 27, 2023, the Irish authorities signed a memorandum of intent with their US counterparts to extend the US-Irish Work Holiday/Intern Work and Travel Program for another five years. The program allows Irish students and recent graduates to spend up to a year in the US living and working on US soil. American students and recent graduates, in turn, have the right to move to Ireland to work there for up to a year.

Spain has announced that 100 people from Senegal will be able to move to Spanish territory and work there during the harvest season starting in April 2023. If the scheme is successful, the Spanish also hope to conclude a similar agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco. The latter annually sends about 15,000 seasonal workers to Spain. In the future, it is possible to expand the list of signatory countries.

Assistance with labor immigration to the European Union

Today, many doors are open to highly qualified specialists, start-up creators and experienced entrepreneurs in a united Europe. The benefits listed above are just a small selection of the options available.

Our team continues to monitor the situation and is ready to offer the most relevant recommendations, as well as competent assistance in solving specific immigration problems. Find out more by signing up for an online consultation.

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