The European Union's member states are confronting a labour shortage, particularly in highly skilled industries such as healthcare and information technology, as well as in agriculture and construction.
To address this issue, each Member State's authorities are introducing new steps at the national level, in addition to actions implemented at the EU level.
From January 1, these countries have either announced or warned of new laws for entering their national territory and working in specified fields, including changes such as lowering application processes and extending the validity of residency permits.
We've listed and described these changes in each section below.
The German government plans to revise its skilled workers act.
For some time now, the German government has been striving to modify its immigration regulations in order to make it easier for foreign employees to migrate to Germany, particularly those with expertise in industries that Germany sorely needs to keep its economy healthy.
Germany is working hard to amend its three-year-old Skilled Workers Act in 2023 and has previously warned about the adjustments it intends to make to this law, under which 50,000 third-country nationals relocated to the country in 2021.
Among other things, the proposed revisions will make Germany's Blue Card more accessible to a greater number of university-educated specialists.
It will also allow non-EU citizens to migrate to Germany for job purposes without having to go through formal recognition procedures for their degree and professional qualification, and if they wish to do so, they will be allowed to do so upon arrival in Germany rather than from outside.
Also, foreigners who have not obtained a contract with a German employer may in the future be able to obtain a one-year valid residence visa in order to relocate to Germany and look for work.
Short-term work will also be allowed in certain situations, depending on the needs of German firms.
Slovenia To Change Its Immigration Act for Employees Using Urgent Process
Slovenia is another country that plans to make things easier for foreign workers. Last week, the Slovenian administration filed to the National Assembly an urgent draught law including proposed reforms to working conditions in this country.
The proposed revisions aim to make it easier for third-country citizens to get residence permits and registration certificates, as well as to provide free language classes to anyone planning to relocate to Slovenia.
Furthermore, the country intends to begin mailing residency permits and extensions, as well as to begin storing fingerprints for up to five years in order to use them for permit renewals.
Several further conveniences will be implemented, including the elimination of the requirement for administrative unit written confirmation when transferring employment.
Revised List of Professionals Wanted in Denmark, as well as a New Working Holiday Quota for Chile and Argentina
Denmark has amended the list of professionals it requires to occupy empty positions in the country since January 1, 2023.
There are two different listings. The first is the Positive List for Individuals with a Higher Degree, which includes 40 job titles for fields where competent workers are in low supply in the country. The Positive List for Skilled Employment is the second list, which includes 36 job titles.
Furthermore, Denmark has announced that it will offer 75 residence permits through the Danish Working Holiday programme to Chilean and Argentine citizens from March 1 to August 31, 2023.
Permits will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis.
Italy increases work permit quotas for 2023 and simplifies foreign worker employment rules
Italy has boosted the limit for foreign unskilled employees and startup visa applications from third countries to 82,705 for 2023, up 7,000 from last year and 12,000 from 2021.
This will be the last year that the government sets the quotas annually, as they will now be set every three years.
The Italian government has also made several changes to the country's laws regarding foreign workers, which have simplified the start of foreigners' employment relationships with Italian companies while also speeding up the procedure for granting the no impediment document for subordinate work for seasonal needs.
At the same time, the changes mandate that enterprises hiring agricultural workers have preference over new applications from other professions.
Finland will expedite the processing of foreign worker residence permit applications.
Finland has reduced the processing period for residence permit applications submitted by foreign employees who have accepted employment in the country to roughly a month. The new rule will apply to all applications, including those submitted before the law went into effect at the end of February.
The application procedures for both employees and employers have also been automated by the government.
The latter will be in charge of checking the employee's professional qualifications, as foreign workers will no longer be obliged to present as many documentation on their professional skills as they were previously.
Finally, the Immigration Service ruled that the validity time of a travel document will no longer affect the duration of the permit, which indicates that the authorities will make a decision on a foreign worker's application as long as they have a valid document.
Estonia: New Financial Means Minimum for Foreign Employees
The Estonian government stated last week that the minimum fund criterion for primary candidates enrolling for short-term employment under the national D Visa will be increased.
This means that applicants for short-term employment registration will need to produce proof of at least €1,200 in savings or a monthly wage of the same amount when applying for Estonia's D Visa.
While applying for a visa, those intending to move to Estonia to work in start-up enterprises or as seasonal workers will be asked to prove a lesser amount of money, of at least €800.
Beginning in July 2023, the country will additionally impose a minimum of at least A2 level Estonian language knowledge. Applicants for an EU Blue Card, applicants for a temporary residence visa for employment as academic staff, and applicants for intra-corporate transfers will be exempt from this requirement.
Bulgaria will make it easier to obtain a Blue Card.
Bulgaria no longer requires higher education qualifications to obtain a Blue Card and work in the nation. The amendments were accepted by the Bulgarian National Assembly on a second reading in January.
The decision was made after officials claimed that enterprises in the information technology sector are currently facing a shortfall of 40,000 to 50,000 IT workers.
Some EU countries have implemented changes for foreign workers.
Some EU countries have made reforms to allow third-country residents to work on their territory.
Ireland signed a letter of intent with the United States on January 27 to extend the US-Ireland Working Holiday/Intern Employment and Travel Programme for another five years.
The programme allows Irish students and recent graduates to spend up to a year living and working in the United States, while also allowing US students and recent graduates to travel to Ireland for up to a year of work.
Whereas Spain has announced that 100 Senegalese will be eligible to move and work in Spanish territory for the harvest season beginning in April 2023. If the scheme is successful, Spain hopes to strike a similar deal with Morocco. Every year, the latter sends approximately 15,000 seasonal employees to Spain.
By fLEXI tEAM