A how-to guide released last year that helps foreigners figure out German customs and bureaucracy has incorporated the changes to the immigration law that came into effect in January.
What does the changes mean for them? The guidebook tells all
Newcomers to Germany who want to learn about garden gnomes and other German passions or navigate new immigration rules can turn to a revised how-to guide to German bureaucracy and culture.
With Germany's first immigration bill now in force since Jan. 1, the government's representative for migration, refugees and integration, Marieluise Beck, has issued the 240-page booklet, first published last year, as a survival guide for those willing to integrate in German society, help avoid falling into bureaucratic traps and prevent unnecessary nervousness.
"We want to help them a little bit to find their way around," said Beck.
New arrivals can read up on Germany's political and social life right down to very practical issues such getting a driving license, finding a job and buying insurance. The booklet also provides clarity on the common abbreviations and gives readers insight into the country's general and regional customs and traditions. The guide book also offers encouragement on learning German and explains the difference between a currywurst and a döner.
The second edition of the manual for foreigners is free of charge, and is available in print form, and can be downloaded from the internet as a PDF file.
a colorful melting pot
Give us your skilled
The new immigration law took effect on Jan. 1 after years of wrangling by politicians and will simplify immigration procedures, promote the integration of foreigners and ease the deportation of those deemed Islamic extremists.
Also, the law is the first major initiative since the 1970s to promote allowing foreign workers -- albeit a limited group with high skills -- into Germany. That is because of growing concerns over the nation's low birth rate and ageing population as well as fears of business leaders of a future scarcity of skilled workers in fields like computer science and engineering.
It follows the so-called "green card" program, a less-than-successful initiative that aimed to lure thousands of engineers and computer scientists to work in German companies.
a special German passion
"There is usually tension"
Even though it is colourful and includes many photos and drawings, the guide is not a book to read from A to Z. Instead, it is structured in a way so that foreigners can easily look up the chapters they're most interested in. The manual comes in many languages, including German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Polish and Russian.
It's the most comprehensive guide for foreigners so far. German officials say it is a step to promoting integration, something they believe is key to the success of immigrants in Germany.
"Wherever migrants appear, there usually is some tension with the population already living there," Beck. "We are convinced that calming down tension only works if people know about each other - their habits, customs and religion. So, what we try to do is make people know something about each other and we hope that'll make life easier for both sides."