Germany: Minimum wage to increase on January 1

On or after January 1, 2017, due to a legal amendment, employers in Germany will have to pay foreign and local workers a minimum wage of EUR 8.84 per hour.

Other visa-specific minimum salary rules, such as that the salary has to be comparable to the salary of a German national working in the same position with the same qualifications and experience, will still apply.

Germany: Work permit application processing significantly delayed

Work and residence permit applicants and those seeking related appointments are experiencing delays of up to several weeks due to a case backlog at the immigration authority.

The delays will especially affect local hires, whose applications are processed by the Federal Employment Agency.

US: Global Entry program opens to all eligible citizens of Germany

Beginning February 16, 2016, qualified German citizens can apply for membership in the Global Entry trusted traveller program, according to a Federal Register notice slated for publication next week. Successful applicants benefit from expedited immigration and customs clearance when they enter the United States through a participating airport.

Global Entry membership was previously open to a limited number of German citizens who participated in ABG Plus, Germany’s former trusted traveller program, through a pilot conducted in 2013. 

Qualified U.S. citizens are now eligible to apply for membership in EasyPASS, Germany’s expedited entry program for pre-screened travellers.

Germany: Application process streamlined for employment and family reunion visas

The Federal Government has amended visa application procedures for work and family reunion entry visas in an effort to streamline applications for foreign workers and their families and to minimize the discrepancy in processing times between work and family reunion visas. The amended rules became effective December 29, 2015.

The Elimination of Local Approval Step

The new rules eliminate a local immigration authority approval step that has in the past increased processing times by many weeks.  Therefore, the following benefits should occur:

Germany: Expected salary limitations not implemented

The Federal Employment Agency has decided not to implement a rule that would have excluded non-cash benefits such as housing, cars and meals provided by the employer and travel expenses, among other allowances, from the calculation of the minimum salary when comparing the foreign national’s salary with a local salary.

Payments Eligible for Minimum Salary Calculation

Employers can include the following types of payment in the minimum salary calculation when comparing the foreign national’s salary with a local salary:

  • Actual take-home salary;
  • Allowances without conditions paid directly to the assignee for the entire duration of the assignment; and
  • Per diem allowances paid to reach the minimum salary, if paid as a lump sump.

Allowances (such as housing and transportation costs) still do not count toward the general minimum salary calculation, but will be taken into account when conducting a comparison with the local salary.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Employers hiring foreign workers can still take into account per diem payments provided by the company and paid as a lump sump for housing, meals and cars when comparing a foreign worker's salary with a local salary.

Germany: Eligible expenses to meet minimum salary limited

On or after January 1, 2016, non-cash benefits such as housing, cars and meals provided by the employer and travel expenses, among other allowances, will likely no longer be included in the minimum salary calculation for foreign workers in Germany, according to a published decision by the German Federal Employment Agency (FEA). The decision has not yet been fully interpreted and is subject to change.

Germany: Labour market rules relaxed for Western Balkan nationals

On or after January 1, 2016, nationals of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia with a job offer in Germany will be able to obtain a D-visa (long-term visa) as long as the applicant meets the position’s experience requirements.  This new exemption will be in effect until 2020.

Germany: Blue Card minimum salary increases on January 1 2016

Starting January 1, 2016, non-EEA nationals with valid job offers applying for work authorization under the EU Blue Card program will be subject to higher minimum salary levels in Germany.

The minimum salary for shortage occupations will be €38,688, up from €37,752; and for non-shortage occupations, the minimum will be €49,600, up from €48,400.

The German government re-evaluates the minimum salary requirements for the Blue Card program annually. The new salary thresholds apply to Blue Card applicants with employment contract start dates of January 1 or later.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Employers should ensure that all relevant teams and managers are aware of the salary increases and plan for the impact on corporate budgets.

Germany: New law clarifies residence registration requirements

The Federal Registration Act, effective November 1, 2015, replaces existing state residence registration laws, harmonizes registration deadlines and requires residents (including foreign nationals and citizens) to register at a local town hall within two weeks of taking up residence in Germany and to de-register within two weeks after leaving their accommodation. 

German minimum wage now considered in immigration applications

Although the Minimum Wage Act is not an immigration-specific requirement, labour authorities have started to consider whether foreign nationals are earning the general statutory minimum wage of €8.50 per hour.


The Minimum Wage Act was implemented in January 2015 and applies to all workers in Germany, including foreign nationals with a foreign employer and temporary assignees.

Significant visa, work & residence permit processing delays in Germany

While the German government deploys resources to aid increasing numbers of asylum seekers, foreign nationals with pending immigration appointments, pending applications filed with immigration offices, pending family reunion visas and work visa applications that require immigration office approval in Germany may experience delays up to several weeks.

Visa-exempt nationals, such as those from Australia, Israel and the United States, who can apply for a work and residence permit in Germany without an entry visa, should consider applying abroad for an entry work visa, which can be converted into a work permit after arrival in Germany. This way, the foreign national will not need to attend an appointment immediately upon arrival in Germany and will be able to work immediately upon arrival.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Employers and foreign nationals should account for significant processing and appointment delays in Germany, which could delay start dates and travel plans.


Courtesy of Fragomen.

Eligible business visitors to Germany benefit from new rule

As of August 1, 2015, non-EEA national business visitors conducting certain business activities will be able to stay in Germany up to 90 days cumulatively within a 180-day period instead of 90 days in a twelve-month period.  This change is in line with the rule for business stays in Schengen countries.

The business visitor activities affected by the change are the following:

  • Attending meetings and negotiations, preparing contract offers, signing contracts and supervising the implementation of contracts for an employer outside Germany;
  • Attending internal business meetings or discussions; and
  • Establishing, auditing, or overseeing an entity in Germany for an employer outside Germany.

Business visitors conducting the following activities are limited to the previous 90 days within a twelve-month period rule:

  • Attending or holding internal seminars or training;
  • Participating in expositions to present and sell company products; and
  • Testing or receiving training for use of equipment and facilities purchased by the employer with a commercial entity outside Germany.

Non-EEA visa nationals must still obtain a visa to enter Germany.

What This Means for Foreign Nationals

Eligible business visitors to Germany should benefit from the new rule as it will allow a longer stay in Germany, and should consult with their immigration professional to determine whether their upcoming business travel is affected by the change.

Courtesy of Fragomen