As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine progresses, more and more internationally active companies are facing the question of labor market access in Germany for Russian skilled workers who are currently residing in Russia. In this context, German immigration authorities, particularly the Federal Employment Agency have taken measures which can facilitate the process of labor market access for internationally active companies. An overview.
In coordination with the Federal Ministries, the Federal Employment Agency has issued a so-called General Approval (“Globalzustimmung”). This General Approval applies if certain criteria are being met. This approach of the Federal Employment Agency has a strong impact on the current legal Visa processes of internationally operating companies that seek to relocate their businesses and employees to Germany. The purpose of the regulation is to enable international companies and their skilled workers working in Russia to relocate from Russia to Germany in a facilitated manner. The regulation creates faster processing of visa applications and reduces the workload of employees and employers as well as the German authorities.
The Federal Employment Agency’s General Approval applies to individuals who have their residence or habitual abode, i.e. their center of life, in Russia or who have had to relocate abroad due to the ongoing Ukraine conflict.
The General Approval is intended to offer certain advantages to employees who are actually affected by the conflict. Russian employees who do not have their habitual residence in Russia and therefore do not have to or did not have to transfer their residence due to the present conflict are therefore excluded from this regulation.
At the time of applying for a visa, the employee must have already been employed by a company with international operations in Russia. The purpose of the General Approval is therefore to attract skilled workers who are already employed by an internationally operating company out of Russia and to create simplified conditions for this. However, global consent does not apply to employees who are newly joining the company. In this case, a normal pre-approval or approval procedure must be initiated with the Federal Employment Agency.
On the legal basis of the General Approval, therefore, either employment must be carried out at a Russian location of a German or international company at the time of the visa application, which is to be carried on in Germany, or the same employment must have been carried out at a Russian location on February 24, 2022 and has not been terminated.
It therefore will depend on whether the employment relationship as a cohesive part still exists or if it does not exist. If it no longer exists or does not yet exist, the application is reviewed under normal circumstances and, if necessary, with the involvement of other German authorities.
Continued employment in German branch of the company
Likewise, the employment of the person must be a continuation of employment. This means that in individual cases it will have to be determined whether the application for a corresponding visa is for continued employment in a German branch or location of the same company of the employer, or whether the application for the visa is on the basis of new employment.
In this sense, it is therefore crucial whether – even in the case of an already existing employment – there is an interruption of the employment relationship or not. An interruption of the existing employment relationship can therefore also result in the prerequisites for general approval no longer being met.
Type of residence permit
Furthermore, the Federal Employment Agency’s General Approval does not apply to all residence permits, but only when applying for certain visas. The Global approval includes the EU Blue Card for shortage occupations, residence permits for skilled workers and residence permits for employees with distinctive practical professional knowledge in information and communication technology or with company-specific special knowledge. In contrast, students, interns and applications for residence permits for in-company training and further training are not covered by the General Approval.
The employee’s salary must meet certain minimum requirements. Thus, for Global Approval, the salary must amount to at least €43,992 gross per year or €50,760 gross per year in the case of employees with distinct professional practical knowledge. The minimum salary threshold for the EU Blue Card must of course still be substantiated in individual cases.
Legal consequence and actual impact on practice
Provided that all requirements are met, the approval of the Federal Employment Agency will be based on the specific General Approval. In practice, this will result in a swifter procedure and simplified documentation requirements in individual cases. The embassy and consulates in Russia have adapted these facilitated processes. Depending on the availability of visa appointments, fast and competent processing, even of a high number of visa applications, can be handled. This is extremely beneficial both for internationally operating companies, which are relocating their business out of Russia and the employees. In addition, however, the General Approval also relieves the workload of the Federal Employment Agency and efficiently facilitates the processing of visa applications at the embassy and consulates. Companies that want to move large numbers of staff abroad are thus enabled to effectively enforce the same.
The global consent is currently valid until September 30, 2022.
Political framework and perspectives
It therefore remains to be observed how the political parties and also the German authorities will further proceed with the Global Approval. The Global Approval is currently valid until September 30, 2022. Political parties are presently proposing to restrict the issuance of visas to Russian citizens in order to maintain the sanctions policy against Russia. This should apply especially to Russian tourist visas. By now, countries such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic have already stopped issuing Schengen Visas to citizens of Russia. How this will affect the issuance of visas for work purposes and a possible extension of the Global Approval remains to be seen.