1.11.2005 | Von:
Dr. Holger Kolb


The German "Green Card" is among the most fiercely disputed topics within the broader immigration debate in Germany.
Ein indonesischer Computerspezialist präsentiert im Jahr 2000 bei einer Pressekonferenz mit dem damaligen Arbeitsminister Walter Riester seine "Green Card". (© AP)

Introduced in August 2000, its goal was to provide a non-bureaucratic means of bringing foreign experts (non-EU/ EEA [1] foreign nationals) in the information and communication technology (ICT) fields to Germany.

The success of the Regulation on Work Permits for Highly Qualified Foreign Labourers in Information and Communication Technology (IT/ArGV), or the so-called "Green Card", has generally been a rather contentious issue. Critics primarily refer to the low number of foreign ICT expert recruits as an indicator that Germany is lagging behind in the worldwide competition to acquire the best minds, the so-called "war for talent".

To measure the success or failure of the Green Card based upon the number of hired skilled labourers would not, however, do justice to the actual outcome of this initiative. For instance, it served to initiate a public debate around the necessity for labour migration. A public examination of immigration in terms of skilled labourers with a particular specialisation and limited length of stay seemed more likely in the midst of high unemployment in Germany. A public debate, albeit controversial and emotionally guided, was also especially important for the implementation of a new immigration law. Thus, the Green Card aided in paving the way for the Immigration Act [2] of July 2004, which provides for the labour migration of highly qualified individuals.

Secondly, the Green Card enabled small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the ICT sector to significantly improve their competitive edge against the market´s leading global players.


The European Economic Area (EEA) is comprised of the countries of the European Union (EU) as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
The Act to Control and Restrict Immigration and to Regulate the Residence and Integration of EU Citizens and Foreigners (Immigration Act) entered into force on 1 January 2005, although some parts took effect on 1 September 2004.



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