The accelerated skilled worker procedure – the fast lane of immigration to Germany


published on 9 May 2023 | reading time approx. 3 minutes


Workers from non-EU countries, require a work visa to take up employment in Ger­many. In practice, we have observed that due to the long processing times for visa ap­pli­cations at German missions abroad (embassy or consulate), it is often not pos­sible to meet the planned entry into German companies in terms of time. With the so-called “accelerated skilled worker procedure” the legislator has created an attractive pos­si­bi­lity to shorten the duration of the procedure. 



      The work visa for foreign workers must always be applied for in the country where the foreigner's center of life is located. Exempt from applying for a visa are EU citizens, i.e. persons who have citizenship of a EU member state. They can benefit from the so-called European basic freedoms, which make it possible to take up employ­ment without first applying for a residence title.


      It is not possible for foreigners to enter Germany and apply for a visa on site in Germany, with the exception of a few privileged countries (including the USA, Japan, Israel, South Korea). However, even for persons from these countries, the commencement of employment is only permitted after obtaining the corresponding residence ti­tle.


      If the foreigner is to be employed in Germany in a timely manner, the visa procedure must be initiated as soon as possible. Employment without a valid residence title permitting employment is subject to heavy fines, even in the case of a first-time violation.


      Against the background of the frequently long processing times at German missions abroad, the instruments of skilled worker immigration come into play. The AufenthG makes it possible to initiate a so-called accelerated procedure for skilled workers in accordance with Section 81a of the AufenthG. This is an effective procedure in which the local immigration office in Germany, which is locally responsible at the employer's headquarters, acts as the central procedural intermediary. Within this framework, the legal requirements for a work visa are checked “the short way” and finally a preliminary approval is granted - the foreign mission issues the work visa on this basis. Within the framework of the procedure, the residence titles for the family members can also be applied for.


      The processing time for the individual procedural steps is specified and should be a maximum of two months in Germany and six weeks abroad. In practice, we observe much shorter processing times depending on the au­tho­ri­ties, and provided that all required documents are available.

      The term “skilled worker” was redefined and expanded by the 2019 Skilled Worker Immigration Act. In the pro­cess, the existing system of demand-based labor migration was continued, which is fundamentally linked to the existence of a qualification recognized in Germany and a job offer. A uniform definition of skilled workers was introduced, which includes both academically and professionally qualified employees.


      Currently, the recognition of foreign training qualifications is still critical, as it is difficult in practice. In view of the labor shortage in non-academic professions, politicians are planning to simplify the procedure to close this gap.

      ​Accelerated skilled worker procedure ​
      • faster than visa procedure with regular application via embassy/consulate
      • possibility to influence the application process (dialogue with the authority, subsequent submission of documents)
      • pre-approval makes it only necessary for foreigners to “pick up” the visa at the embassy/consulate
      • family members can be processed in the same procedure
      • effort for employer, procedure cannot be conducted by the employee
      • higher fee (currently 411 euros per application)
      • focus on academics: university graduates and employees with qualified vocational training are considered skilled workers (sometimes difficult recognition of foreign degrees)

      The Accelerated Skilled Worker Procedure must be initiated by the employer. The following documents are ty­pi­cally required for the procedure:

      Für die Durchführung werden typischerweise nachfolgende Dokumente benötigt:

      • Concrete job offer or signed job offer and job description
      • Curriculum vitae of the foreigner
      • Color copy of the national passport, also of accompanying family members (in this case also proof of mar­riage and birth certificate of children)
      • Power of attorney and agreement on the implementation of the accelerated specialist procedure according to the official model as well as sub-power of attorney for Rödl & Partner to represent the employer vis-à-vis the authorities
      • Proof of professional qualification, certificate of academic achievements and other relevant proofs of the for­eig­ner in original language and in German certified translation as well as recognition of professional qua­li­fi­cation, if applicable
      • Other certificates of qualification (if available) in original language and in German certified translation as well as any language certificates
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