What is the change? Foreign nationals applying for work and residence permits or in need of other immigration-related services may experience significant delays as German authorities devote resources toward helping thousands of asylum seekers.

What does the change mean? Applicants should prepare for delays. Employers may need to adjust timelines and start dates. Visa-exempt nationals – including nationals of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the U.S. – may want to consider obtaining an entry visa before traveling to Germany. This option allows visa-exempt nationals to begin working immediately upon arriving in Germany while they wait for a work permit to be processed.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work and residence permits, other immigration-related services.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for work and residence permits or seeking other immigration-related services in Germany.  
  • Impact on processing times: Delays vary from location to location, but in some cases applications have been delayed several weeks.
  • Business impact: Employers may need to adjust start dates and timelines.
  • Next steps: BAL will continue to monitor the impact the refugee crisis is having on immigration services in Germany and other parts of Europe.

Background: Europe is experiencing a refugee crisis of a magnitude that has not been seen since World War II. Germany is a top destination for hundreds of thousands who are fleeing Syria and other locations in the Middle East and Africa. The surge in asylum seekers has left immigration authorities short-staffed to handle other, more routine matters. Officials have grappled with backlogs over the past couple of months, though initially the delays were more or less consistent with typical seasonal slowdowns. Delays will vary from location to location, and some cities have been hit particularly hard. In Munich, for example, authorities have asked filing agents only to make appointment requests for emergency situations.

BAL Analysis: As Germany is a top destination for refugees, delays should be expected for work and residence permits as immigration authorities try to keep up with the increased workload. Visa-exempt nationals, as described above, should consider applying for and obtaining entry visas abroad in order to be eligible to work in Germany immediately upon arrival. Contact your BAL attorney to discuss the best options for those in need of urgent immigration services in Germany.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Germany. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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