Until just a couple of years ago, U.S. citizens wishing to live and work in Germany were viewed as second citizens of sorts by the German government, and being an American was considered a “seal of quality.” As a result, most were welcome to enter the country and start working without much effort or documentation when it came to immigration.
However, due to recent geopolitical changes in Germany and the tendency for Germans to treat everyone equally, the government is now requiring anyone wishing to live and work in their country to comply with the same requirements.
This means that the privileged treatment U.S. citizens have received over the years has more or less come to an end, and that an asylum seeker will now be treated the same as, say, an American corporate VP on assignment.
The eligibility criteria for Americans can therefore be quite stringent now. One example is the mandate that all immigrants attend a four month training course that covers the German way of life and German values. Although this may be considered helpful for those coming from very different backgrounds who wish to live there permanently, it creates unwelcome challenges for corporate assignees, as one MSI client recently discovered.
The client wanted to send a U.S. VP on assignment to Germany and was not only informed of this requirement, but also asked for much more documentation than had been requested in the past. This meant that what was once a two or three week immigration process now took six months.
Fortunately, after providing proof that the assignee would only be in Germany for two years and had already enrolled in German language classes, the training requirement was waived. But this took considerable effort on the company’s part, and frequent communication with immigration authorities.
This doesn’t mean that American citizens are no longer as welcome to Germany as they once were, but that now they’ll simply be treated like everyone else, with no more shortcuts.
By Carolina Rojas Newman, GMS, President, MSI Global Immigration