What is the change? The German Cabinet has approved a new family reunification law.

What does the change mean? The law will allow migrants with “subsidiary” status to bring family members to Germany. It imposes a monthly cap of 1,000 on the number of migrants arriving in the country to join family members in this category and gives priority to certain humanitarian cases, including those involving young children, sick family members, or political persecution.

  • Implementation time frame: The law is set to take effect Aug. 1.
  • Visas/permits affected: Family reunification for migrants who have subsidiary status in Germany.
  • Who is affected: Migrants with subsidiary status in Germany and their family members.
  • Impact on processing times: Authorities will only accept 1,000 migrants in this category per month, meaning wait times could be long if a significant number of people want to come to Germany under the new law. Any unfilled quotas will carry over into the next month, but only for the first five months after the law takes effect.
  • Business impact: No significant impact.

Background: The framework for the new law was agreed to when Germany’s two largest political parties negotiated plans for another grand coalition government earlier this year. In developing the law, officials aimed to strike a balance between humanitarian concerns and Germany’s capacity to receive more new migrants. The law only allows migrants to bring their immediate family members, i.e., their spouses, unmarried minor children or, in certain cases, their parents. Provisions have been put in place to allow only spouses who were married before their husband or wife left for Germany and to bar family members found to have committed a serious crime. Furthermore, the family member already living in Germany should not expect to exit Germany in the near future.

BAL Analysis: The new law will not affect business immigration programs, but is an indicator of the new government’s position on a key immigration issue. The government is expected to introduce other immigration changes, including measures to reduce processing times for recognition of foreign degrees and remove labor market testing requirements in areas with relatively low unemployment. BAL will continue following developments in Germany and will alert clients to any significant immigration changes.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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