1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Germany plans easing asylum-seekers' access to labor market

November 1, 2023

New legislation would allow successful asylum-seekers in Germany quicker access to the job market, while mandating stiffer punishment for people smugglers. Germany's government has been under pressure on migration.

People enter an asylum center in the German city of Braunschweig
Germany has seen a sharp increase in newly arrived asylum-seekers Image: Julian Stratenschulte/dpa/picture alliance

Germany's Cabinet on Wednesday approved legislation that would allow asylum-seekers to start working sooner, along with plans to stiffen sentences for smugglers.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said asylum-seekers would be allowed to work after three or six months after arrival, down from the nine-month mark currently in place. The legislation still requires parliamentary approval. 

Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said the idea behind the legislation was to make sure that asylum-seekers were "out of the social system and into employment."

The government also signaled that it is cracking down on people smugglers. Faeser said its plan calls for most offenses involving smuggling to be punished with a minimum of one year in prison, up from six months.

It foresees a sentence of between 10 years to life in prison for smuggling resulting in death.

In all cases of smuggling offenses, police will be entitled to tap suspected smugglers' cell phones, Faeser added.

Government under pressure on migration 

The new legislative proposal comes as the ruling coalition has been under massive pressure to regulate and reduce migration, with shelters for migrants and refugees filling up across Germany as arrivals continue in high numbers

Germany's Cabinet last week approved legislation designed to make it easier for authorities to carry out the deportation of individuals who have had their asylum requests denied.

The legislation was sharply criticized by rights groups and the youth wing of the Green Party for being "inhumane."

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is due to hold a meeting with the premiers of Germany's 16 federal states on Monday, with migration expected at the top of the agenda. 

The conservative opposition party, the CDU, won in several state elections last month as the topic of migration remains a top concern for voters. 

Germany to speed up deportation of rejected asylum-seekers

How would the rules change?

People whose asylum applications have failed but for various reasons, such as illness, cannot be deported will be given permission to work in the future, Faeser said.

Those who come from nations deemed "safe countries of origin" and have no case to stay, or refuse to disclose their identity, will not be allowed to work.

Even as it struggles with the new arrivals, the government is also grappling with a shortage of skilled labor.

Faeser said the legislation approved by Cabinet Wednesday was important to get people employed sooner.

"This is above all about the people who are already here, where we think getting them into work early for reasons of integration is helpful ... and of course, it leads to acceptance in the rest of the population if people who come here also work," she said.

While you're here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.

rm/wmr (AP, AFP)