Immigration to Germany in 2021: What's Changed? What Can You Expect? | Life in Düsseldorf (2023)

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In 2020, we have seen many unexpected changes to all aspects of life including regulations for immigration to Germany. The developments of regulations have a direct impact on those currently immigrating to the country and those who are considering relocating in 2021. We will look at these developments closely in this article that may or may not affect your immigration process to Germany in the following years.

Immigration to Germany in 2021: What's Changed? What Can You Expect? | Life in Düsseldorf (1)

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New rules for the immigration of skilled workers were put into place early in 2020.

The new law extends the possibilities for qualified professionals from outside the European Union to come to work in Germany. Before applying for a visa under the new rules, interested candidates need to obtain official recognition of their professional qualification from the relevant German authorities. Information about the procedures can be found on Interested professionals should start these procedures early.

If you haven’t applied for a visa to come to Germany yet, and you’re in need of support, try checking out an online visa service platform like iVisa – they will deal with all the paperwork and embassy communication for you.

Children must be vaccinated against measles to attend school.

Children who have not been vaccinated against measles will not be allowed to enroll in daycare or school. This went into effect on March 1st, 2020. Before a school can admit them, parents must be able to prove that their children have received the appropriate vaccinations. Since school attendance is mandatory in Germany (homeschooling has been illegal here since 1919, with exceptions to rare circumstances), parents who do not send their children to community facilities will be considered to have committed an administrative offense and may face a fine of up to 2.500 euros. Children who already attend either kindergarten or school in Germany have until July 31, 2021, to either get vaccinated against measles or prove that they have already been. The same applies to the faculty of educational facilities.

More tax relief for employees who relocate.

Since March 1st, anyone who changes homes for professional reasons can look forward to receiving higher compensation when it comes to their tax return. The amount you can claim as relocation costs tax-free will rise to 1,639 euros for married or single parents, 820 euros for single persons, and 361 euros for each additional member of the household. The flat rate covers all costs apart from transportation and travel costs, as well as double rental payments.

Six-Month Visas to search for work in Germany.

Moving to Germany for a maximum of six months to look for a job is now possible for many non-EU nationals that have their qualifications recognized by the relevant authority in Germany.

Foreign applicants that have enough funds to take care of themselves for the time of their stay and can prove to have a B1 level of understanding of the German language of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages can apply for a Germany Jobseeker Visa.

The visa permits its holder to work a maximum of 10 hours a week, so a potential candidate and their potential employer can find out if they are suited to each other.


Students can now change their residence status more easily.

Students in Germany who want to switch their residential status have the chance to do it more easily than before. Skilled students interested in vocational training, can get a residence permit to attend a vocational training course. Or they can get a job as a qualified professional whilst still studying or receiving vocational training (under certain preconditions). Those foreigners who have successfully completed a vocational training course in Germany can apply to receive a permanent settlement permit upon a period of two years in the country, the same period as applies to graduates.

What changes for companies hiring Non-EU workers?

Companies hiring employees outside the EU can now follow facilitated procedures and rules after the new law came into effect. These facilitations include expedited procedures for qualified professionals through the foreigner’s registration (Ausländeramt) office in Germany.

Firstly, the hiring company and the foreigner’s registration office must reach an agreement. This agreement should include the procedures, parties, deadlines, and powers of attorney. It should also state the obligations for the employer, the qualified professional, and the relevant authorities.

Secondly, the foreigner’s registration office gets the approval of the Federal Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit), within certain deadlines.

The office then issues to the employer an advance approval if all conditions are met. The employer then passes approval on to the qualified professional.

The qualified person shall then follow the procedures for getting an employment visa for Germany from their country of residence.

Introduction of Esports Visa

Athletes and coaches of esports can also apply for a visa, according to the new guidelines. This visa will allow them to come to Germany and obtain residence permits for employment.

The approval of the German Federal Employment Agency will not be required in this case either. Applicants will need to meet several conditions, as they must be above 16 years of age and have a salary of at least 50 percent of the income threshold of the statutory pension insurance.


In addition, the German Sports Federation and the responsible central association for the sport, by mutual agreement confirm the athlete’s athletic qualification or the coach’s professional competence.

Asylum processes.

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has changed its policy of accepting applications in person in order to comply with the need to avoid contact and is currently only accepting applications in writing. These are not “written asylum applications” in accordance with section 14 subsection (2) of the Asylum Act (AsylG), which are intended for example for unaccompanied minors or for applicants who are in detention or in hospital but continue to be regarded as personal applications with “form applications”, which are now permissible as part of a controlled procedure.

A prerequisite for applying by means of a “form application” is that applicants must have registered in an initial reception facility of the Federal Länder, where proof of arrival (Ankunftsnachweis – AKN) is also issued. The “form application” is then completed, signed by the applicant in person, and then sent to the Federal Office, together with a copy of the proof of arrival. Once it has arrived, the Federal Office issues permissions to reside (Aufenthaltsgestattungen) and sends them to the applicant together with written instructions on the asylum procedure.

The Federal Office is currently concentrating its asylum efforts on making decisions, if possible without conducting interviews. The office has already maken 11,000 decisions in March 2020 alone. Interviews are still also being held in special cases, particularly those relating to security. Mobile teams are being deployed for this purpose.

The Federal Office is currently creating interview facilities in the branch offices that comply with the regulations on infection protection. This is however not possible at all locations due to the space available. Within this framework, the BAMF plans to recommence interviews after Easter, prioritizing urgent cases.

The personal interviews of all applicants concerning their individual reasons for flight, and the associated further processing of all asylum applications, will take place as soon as this is possible again due to the Corona pandemic.

These measures were taken in order to protect all those concerned and to break the chain of infection. The Federal Office is awaiting the further development of the stipulations on infection protection, and will adapt its interview practice accordingly should this be necessary. In the light of current developments relating to coronavirus, asylum procedure counselling by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has been temporarily suspended.

**Note: Original statement from the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF).

(Video) Walking Video - Düsseldorf, Germany | Ajay Bamel

The effects of Brexit on the legal status of British citizens.

As an EU citizen, you continue to have the right to freedom of movement, that is to move and reside freely anywhere in the European Union, regardless of Brexit. You will also be able to keep your British citizenship.

If you have not yet done so, ensure that the German authorities, in particular the residents’ registration office, are notified of your other citizenship. Provide evidence of this in the form of a passport or official ID card. Otherwise, the authority will not be aware that you have an ongoing right to freedom of movement, and will immediately assume that you are subject to the special provisions for British citizens.

Entry restrictions and quarantine regulations in Germany.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions are in place for entry into Germany from a large number of countries. Moreover, persons arriving from many countries are obliged to self-isolate for a period of 14 days.

These regulations are issued by the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI). Please check with the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) prior to your trip to find out what regulations apply specifically with regard to the country from which you plan to enter Germany. In principle, entry is possible from:

  • EU member states
  • States associated with Schengen: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein
  • United Kingdom
  • Other countries, from which entry is possible due to the epidemiological situation assessment by the EU
  • Entry from other countries not mentioned above is only possible in exceptional cases and is conditional on there being an urgent Need

For more information and up-to-date changes visit the website of the Federal Foreign Office.

The rules for immigration are constantly evolving and we hope that you will find this information useful if you are planning on relocating to Germany. Many cities in Germany have large expat populations and it is easy to integrate into the local culture.

For more information on relocating to Germany and helpful advice make sure to enroll our exclusive Welcome Program.

New to Germany? Join our Welcome Program! Want to join our author team? Send us an email!Join our Life in Düsseldorf | Expats & Locals Community group and register for our newsletter (packed with the hottest events, seasonal activities, upcoming job opportunities and more)!

(Video) How to Move to Germany? (4 Possible Ways for Non-EU Citizens)


How does immigration affect Germany? ›

To high- light its impact on the German economy, four different immigration scenarios are distinguished. The simulation results show higher immigration lowers wage rates and increases GDP. Whereas disposable income and private con- sumption rise, earnings and consumption per capita decline.

What is the new immigration law in Germany 2021? ›

The draft law introduces a one-year residence permit aimed at those who have possessed “tolerated” status for an extended period of time: they then have the chance to meet the necessary requirements to obtain a permanent right of residence in Germany.

Which city of Germany is the best for immigration? ›

Overall, Germany is a top pick because of a wide range of jobs and great salaries, but also relatively low crime rates, clean environment, excellent public transport and many cultural and leisure attractions. The German city which has most immigrants is Frankfurt.

What is the new law for refugees in Germany 2022? ›

What will change? From now on, such migrants who have lived in Germany for more than 5 years as of January 1, 2022, have not committed crimes and are well integrated into society can apply for and receive a residence permit in the country for one year.

Is Germany good for immigrants? ›

Germany's population is growing due to immigration

Germany is known for being a good place to live and work in and therefore is more attractive for immigrants than ever. Since 1950 there have only been a few years in which more people emigrated from than immigrated to Germany.

Is immigration to Germany easy? ›

Germany has one of the world's most well organised and fastest immigration processes. The best way to migrate to Germany is through the Job Seeker Visa. The Job Seeker Visa is a long-term residence permit that allows you to look for a job for a period of 6 months.

Which city is good for refugees in Germany? ›

Refugees in Hamburg

Hamburg, a city-state in northern Germany with a population of 1.8 million people, has received more than 55,000 asylum seekers since the end of 2014.

How long can refugees stay in Germany? ›

When you have been recognised as entitled to asylum, you will receive a residence permit, which allows you to live in Germany for three years. If the situation in your country of origin does not change within this time, your residence permit will be renewed.

Is Germany a good place to live? ›

Overall, Germany is a great place to live. It has a high standard of living, a strong economy, and plenty of culture and entertainment options for a good work-life balance. The cost of living can be high in the major cities, but there are also many benefits to living in Germany.

What is the safest city in Germany? ›

Munich. Munich is probably the safest city to live in Germany. A survey conducted in 2020 found that the crime rate in Munich is pretty low compared to Berlin because out of 100,000, only 6,469 people experienced any criminal activity.

Which is the most English speaking city in Germany? ›

Berliners and Düsseldorfers speak the best English

Within Germany, the study found that the federal states home to Germany's big cities came out on top in terms of English proficiency. Unsurprisingly, Berlin ranked highest overall with a score of 65,51.

Which city has the most job opportunities in Germany? ›

The capital city of Germany offers some of the best employment opportunities in Berlin. It is one of the economic hubs of the world and attracts a growing number of expats each year that come in search of better career options.

Can I get German citizenship after 5 years? ›

To be eligible for naturalization, a person has to have lived legally in Germany for at least eight years and possess the appropriate residence permit. Foreigners who have successfully completed an integration course are eligible for naturalization after seven years.

What is tolerated stay in Germany? ›

A Tolerated Stay Permit or "Duldung" is not an actual residence permit, but rather a temporary residence document which enables you to stay in Germany for a limited period. Those who hold a tolerated stay permit can legally reside in Germany for the time, but their obligation to leave still stands.

Do refugees get citizenship in Germany? ›

By passing the naturalisation test you can prove that you have the knowledge of the legal and social system and living conditions in Germany that you need in order to be naturalised in Germany. You can apply to sit the test at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees' test centres.

What are the disadvantages of living in Germany? ›

The Cons:
  • You'll have to tackle a lot of bureaucracy. ...
  • Lack of digitalisation and modernisation. ...
  • High tax and insurance contributions. ...
  • Germans can seem unfriendly. ...
  • The language barrier can be a struggle. ...
  • It can be hard to find a place to live. ...
  • Not everyone is a fan of the weather. ...
  • Things have to be done a certain way.
5 Jul 2022

Does Germany have free healthcare? ›

Yes, all Germans and legal residents of Germany are entitled to free “medically necessary” public healthcare, which is funded by social security contributions. However, citizens must still have either state or private health insurance, covering at least hospital and outpatient medical treatment and pregnancy.

Is it worth moving to Germany? ›

All in all, Germany is a country where you can find both the fast city life or the quiet sub-urban experience, all from a position of safety, security and stability. In short, the country's safety, highly developed infrastructure and robust economy allow Germany to offer you a very stable reason to move to the country.

Is Germany better than Canada? ›

Canada vs Germany for Indian Students

Canada offers a quality system of healthcare, easier permanent residency applications and a great public health system. On the other hand, Germany offers superior education at a low cost, good healthcare, great weather and a low cost of living.

What is living in Germany like? ›

Quality of Life

Pros: Germany is a highly developed country that's clean and orderly. Things run on time, there is a respect for the environment, and the country's infrastructure is good. Cities are generally walkable, and you can easily get around using the country's well-organized mass transit network.

Can I live in Germany without a job? ›

You can move to Germany without a job if you intend to start your own business. You will need to apply for a residence permit and permission to start your business. You will need a self-employment visa if you are coming to Germany temporarily and for business purposes.

What is the best part of Germany to live in? ›

Best places to live in Germany
  • Munich. The capital of Germany's largest state, Bavaria, the southern German city of Munich, is often seen as the pinnacle of German culture and the German international identity. ...
  • Berlin. ...
  • Frankfurt. ...
  • Cologne. ...
  • Hamburg. ...
  • Dusseldorf. ...
  • Bonn. ...
  • Stuttgart.
18 Mar 2022

Which state of Germany is good for immigrants? ›

Bavaria: Champions of migrant employment

Of those that are of working age, almost 60 percent of migrants in Bavaria are working a job that is subject to social security contributions. In Baden-Württemberg, around 56 percent of migrants of working age have a job.

Where do refugees stay in Germany? ›

North Rhine-Westphalia: Bielefeld, Bonn, Mönchengladbach, Unna. Saxony: Chemnitz, Leipzig. Lower Saxony: Bad Fallingbostel, Bramsche. Saxony-Anhalt: Halberstadt.

What happens to refugees after 5 years? ›

After five years, he or she can apply for Refugee settlement: Indefinite Leave to Remain. A person with Humanitarian Protection has also fled their country because they are at risk of serious harm. He or she will be granted five years' leave to remain.

Are refugees allowed to work in Germany? ›

If your application for asylum has been accepted, i.e. you have been recognised as a refugee, or an individual entitled to asylum or subsidiary protection, you may work as an employee or a self-employed person without any restrictions. That means you have the same rights as a German citizen in the job market.

How can I get German citizenship in 3 years? ›

For such early naturalisation, you must meet the following requirements:
  1. You must have been legally residing in Germany for at least three years.
  2. You must have been married to a German citizen for at least two years.
  3. You must have a valid passport or passport substitute.
  4. You must have accommodation.

Can you survive in Germany with English? ›

There's no doubt that you can survive in Germany without knowing German. Every German usually studies English from the age of 5 and especially the younger generation watches British or American series.

Does Germany have good healthcare? ›

The public healthcare insurance in Germany is one of the world's best. Up to a certain level of net income, you have no choice but to register with one of the more than 150 public health insurers.

What are the pros and cons of living in Germany? ›

Cost of living in Germany
  • + PRO: Low cost of living. ...
  • - CON: Extreme tax deductions. ...
  • + PRO: Good work-life balance. ...
  • - CON: Rising through the ranks can be tough. ...
  • + PRO: Locals are disciplined and punctual. ...
  • - CON: Locals aren't particularly friendly. ...
  • - CON: Language barrier. ...
  • Lifestyle in Germany.

What is the highest crime in Germany? ›

The most dangerous city in Germany is Berlin, followed by Bremen. The index was last updated on January 27, 2022, by Statista, with data from 2020, and it shows that the crime level declined from 2015 to 2020. Property crimes, household burglaries, thefts, and car thefts are the most common types of crimes.

Is Dusseldorf a good place to live? ›

Is Dusseldorf a good place to live? Düsseldorf is the sixth most liveable city in the world. No wonder internationals feel so at home in Düsseldorf. Düsseldorf is home to mostly Asian internationals, so it's no surprise that even with English you'll quickly settle in as an international with no language barrier.

Is it safe to walk at night in Germany? ›

Is Germany safe at night? Yes, most of Germany is safe at night. While there are always some places that turn sketchier at night, you won't have to worry too much. If you're unsure, opt for a taxi to get around after dark and stick with a group of people.

Is English widely spoken in Dusseldorf? ›

There are 600.000 residents in Düsseldorf. About a quarter do not own a German passport. And most of them speak English.

Is living in Germany better than UK? ›

Work-life balance in Germany is vastly superior to the UK. Germans value their leisure time and tend to compartmentalise work time and free time.

What is the easiest job to get in Germany? ›

Engineers: There is a demand for engineers in various sectors. The sector offers good career opportunities and competitive salaries.
Top job openings in Germany:
  • Nurses.
  • Business managers.
  • Account managers.
  • Production assistants.
  • Sales managers, representatives.
  • Product managers.
  • Architects.
  • Civil engineers.
19 Oct 2019

Which city has highest salary in Germany? ›

Frankfurt am Main accounts for the largest average gross salary at €66,529, followed by Stuttgart (€66,174) and Munich (€65,164). What is the rationale behind this? Many major corporations have their headquarters in these federal states or cities.

Which is the cheapest place to live in Germany? ›

Top 5 Cheapest Cities to live in Germany
  • #1 Bielefeld City Germany.
  • #2 Frankfurt (Oder) City Germany.
  • #3 Halle City Germany.
  • #5 Passau City Germany.

Why does Germany have a lot of immigrants? ›

In modern Germany, immigration has generally risen and fallen with the country's economy. The economic boom of the 2010s, coupled with the elimination of working visa requirements for many EU citizens, brought a sustained inflow from elsewhere in Europe.

Why are there so many immigrants in Germany? ›

Good jobs and salaries, a clean environment, low crime rates, lots of leisure-time and cultural attractions, good public transport – that what makes Germany so attractive for foreigners. People migrate to Germany because of many reasons, but probably the most important ones are strong economic and welfare system.

How does Germany profit from migrants? ›

Therefore, the demand for German products increase.” Simply put, migrants buy and spend in the host country just as they would at home, which helps boost sales for German companies who can turn that around into increased production and higher wages and shareholder dividends.

Is it hard to immigrate to Germany? ›

It is not difficult to move to Germany from the US if you have a valid reason, such as a job offer, a letter of acceptance from a German university, or wishing to join your partner. However, generally speaking, everyone outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland needs a solid reason to receive a German residence permit.

Does Germany have free healthcare? ›

Yes, all Germans and legal residents of Germany are entitled to free “medically necessary” public healthcare, which is funded by social security contributions. However, citizens must still have either state or private health insurance, covering at least hospital and outpatient medical treatment and pregnancy.

How much do refugees get paid in Germany? ›

Life situationBenefit amount, in eurosBenefit amount, in US dollars *
Cohabiting spouses, partners330.00320.66
Adults without their own housing (living with family or in hospital)294.00285.68
Youth, from 14 to 17 years old326.00316.77
2 more rows

What countries immigrate to Germany the most? ›

The largest number of immigrants in Germany were from Romania, as of 2021. The top three origin countries were rounded up by Poland and Bulgaria. Immigrants are defined as having left a country, which may be their home country, to permanently reside in another.

Why do people leave Germany? ›

Career is the number one reason for Germans to move abroad, followed by a desire for a different way of life. Some 37% said their partner's career was the reason for their move. One in five moved to study.

How does Germany treat refugees? ›

Moreover, Germany is substantially involved in taking in refugees in need of particular protection within the framework of the EU Resettlement Programme. In 2022, Germany has provided up to 6000 places for resettlement, the humanitarian admission scheme with Turkey and refugee programmes run by the Länder.

Does Germany still accept refugees? ›

Asylum is a right that is protected by the Constitution in Germany. People who have been displaced from other parts of the world and are fleeing from violence war and terror are to find protection in our country.

Where do refugees stay in Germany? ›

North Rhine-Westphalia: Bielefeld, Bonn, Mönchengladbach, Unna. Saxony: Chemnitz, Leipzig. Lower Saxony: Bad Fallingbostel, Bramsche. Saxony-Anhalt: Halberstadt.

How many immigrants does Germany need? ›

Germany needs to attract about 400,000 foreign workers per year to mitigate the economic impact of its aging society, according to the caucus leader of the country's FDP party.

How many immigrants does Germany take in per year? ›

In 2021, around 1.32 million immigrants lived in Germany.
Number of immigrants in Germany from 1991 to 2021 (in millions)
CharacteristicNumber of immigrants in millions
9 more rows
15 Jul 2022

Does Germany allow dual citizenship? ›

In Germany, a person with foreign citizenship in addition to his/her German citizenship (a multiple national) has exactly the same rights as all other German citizens. Additional rights may result in relation to the other state whose nationality they have.

Can I live in Germany without a job? ›

You can move to Germany without a job if you intend to start your own business. You will need to apply for a residence permit and permission to start your business. You will need a self-employment visa if you are coming to Germany temporarily and for business purposes.


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