• Federal Government Eases Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications
  • December 9, 2011
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • Germany’s federal government passed a new law that will make it easier for foreign professionals to work within their field by simplifying and standardizing the process to have their foreign-issued professional qualifications recognized. The new law, the Professional Qualifications Assessment Act, will take effect in spring 2012.

    Foreign professionals are required to have their qualifications assessed and recognized by the German government before they can practice their profession in the country. The current assessment process is relatively difficult and time-consuming. For many professions, there are no standard assessment guidelines to determine whether a foreign qualification will be recognized as valid in Germany. The process can also be highly discretionary, with many foreign-earned qualifications denied recognition because of the holder’s citizenship or the country of origin of the qualification.

    Under the new law, individuals will be entitled to apply to have their foreign qualifications recognized regardless of their citizenship or the country of origin of the qualification. There will be new standardized assessment procedures for all of Germany’s non-regulated professions, based generally on the substance and quality of each specific qualification. In addition, applications will be reviewed within three months of submission.

    What This Means for Employers

    For some time, there has a recognized shortage of professionals in Germany, but many individuals holding foreign professional qualifications or degrees cannot put them to use because the current recognition procedures are onerous and lack objective standards of review. Many professions, such as medical scientists or scientists working and researching at universities, require a recognized qualification as a precondition to practice in Germany. This precludes many foreign professionals from seeking employment in Germany, because having a recognized qualification may be required to apply for a residence permit in some cases.

    The new law should help alleviate this problem. In fact, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research recently released an analysis claiming there are as many as 300,000 individuals in Germany right now that may seek recognition for their foreign-issued qualifications under the new law.