In 2020, Germany received 532 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), -17.3% compared to 2019. This figure comprises 63.5% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 10.1% labour migrants, 13.7% family members (including accompanying family) and 12% humanitarian migrants. Around 12 000 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 6 100 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 411 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2020, a decrease of -19% compared to 2019. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Romania, Poland and Bulgaria were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2020. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Afghanistan registered the strongest increase (1 100) and Romania the largest decrease (-46 000) in flows to Germany compared to the previous year.

In 2021, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 44.5% to reach around 148 000. The majority of applicants came from Syria (55 000), Afghanistan (23 000) and Iraq (16 000). The largest increase since 2020 concerned nationals of Syria (18 500) and the largest decrease nationals of Nigeria (-800). Of the 133 000 decisions taken in 2021, 45% were positive.

In November 2021, the German Government adopted its coalition agreement, which codifies the objectives for the upcoming four years. The agreement envisages several measures aimed at facilitating labour migration. These include the introduction of a points-based opportunity card providing entry to job seekers from third countries, an expansion of the EU Blue Card to non-academic professionals and the possibility for holders of a residence permit to stay abroad temporarily. In addition, the Western Balkan regulation, currently limited in time until 2023, will no longer be subject to this limit. According to this regulation, the Federal Employment Agency can allow nationals from the countries of the Western Balkans with a job offer to take up employment in Germany. The coalition agreement also includes the aim to facilitate the participation of international students in higher education as well as vocational education and training.

The coalition agreement further seeks to offer integration courses to new arrivals immediately and to shorten the qualifying period of prior residence for naturalisation and settlement permits to five and three years respectively. In addition, dual citizenship will generally be permitted.

In the area of humanitarian migration, the agreement foresees the removal of employment bans for people already living in Germany and an easier path to family reunification for persons under subsidiary protection. Several measures seek to facilitate residence for persons with a toleration status, i.e. a temporary suspension of deportation. For example, people with this status will be able to obtain residence permits when undergoing vocational training. The government also plans a number of legislative and other measures to facilitate the return of persons who have no right to stay in Germany.

The Skilled Workers Immigration Act, which came into force in March 2020, introduced an accelerated administrative procedure for skilled workers and their family members. This procedure shortens the deadline for recognition procedures for professions under federal law. Throughout 2020 and 2021, the federal states adopted equivalent regulations for professions governed by federal state law. Furthermore, the Skilled Workers Immigration Act enables the Federal Employment Agency to conclude placement agreements with third countries for skilled foreign professionals. Workers recruited via these agreements can initiate the recognition procedure of their qualifications while taking up employment in Germany in parallel. In July 2021, the Federal Employment Agency signed the first agreement for nurses with Indonesia. In December 2021, it concluded further agreements with the Indian state Kerala for nurses, with Mexico for nurses and chefs, with Colombia for electricians and gardeners and in May 2022 with Jordan for nurses.

Other bilateral labour agreements concluded with Georgia in January 2020 and with Moldova in July 2021 allow nationals of these third countries to engage in seasonal agricultural work in Germany.

In February 2022, the German Government appointed its first national anti-racism commissioner. The commissioner plans, inter alia, to establish a consultation centre for victims of racism, draft a national action plan and co-ordinate the actions of the different ministries against racism.

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