Many employers in Germany are currently toying with the idea of providing job opportunities to Ukrainian refugees. Therefore, this legal advice aims to explain how Ukrainian refugees can be legally employed.
In principle, third-country nationals may only work in Germany with a residence permit
In principle, people from Ukraine need a residence permit in order to be able to work in Germany, since Ukraine does not belong to the European Union or the European Economic Area. There are exceptions for only a few professional groups such as scientists, journalists or professional athletes.
Employing refugees with a residence permit that has already been granted
You can sign an employment contract with a Ukrainian refugee only if he has an electronic residence permit.
Since the issuance of an electronic residence permit may currently take longer, a refugee can obtain a bogus certificate issued by the immigration authorities free of charge in accordance with Article 81 para 3, 5 of the Residence Act (AufenthG). This bogus certificate actually entitles him to conclude an employment contract.
Employing refugees without a residence permit or a bogus certificate
We strongly advise against hiring refugees without a residence permit or bogus certificate. If you hire a Ukrainian refugee as an employer who does not have these documents, you may be fined up to 500,000 euros in accordance with Article 404 Paragraph 2 No. 3, Paragraph 3 of Book Three of the Social Code (SGB III). For this reason alone, you should offer Ukrainian refugees an employment contract only if the refugee can present one of the two documents.
What residence permits are available for Ukrainian refugees?
There are many residence permits being offered to Ukrainian refugees. Below I will briefly introduce the two most common variants and deal with potential legal and practical problems. As an employer, your cooperation is only required when applying for a residence permit in accordance with Article 18 et seq. of the Residence Act. Refugees can apply for a residence permit based on Article 24 of the Residence Act themselves, without the intervention of the employer.
Residence permit according to Article 18 et seq. of the Residence Act
Ukrainian refugees with a special qualification can obtain a regular residence permit in accordance with Article 18 et seq. of the AufenthG. The prerequisite for this is the existence of vocational training identical or similar to qualified domestic vocational training. Alternatively, academic training which should be similar to a German university degree is also an option. But in practice, recognition of foreign qualifications is often difficult.
Furthermore, as an employer, you must prove that the applicant already has a specific job offer. The procedure in paragraph 18 ff of the AufenthG is bureaucratic in other respects as well, as many other requirements must be met, such as obtaining approval from the Federal Employment Agency. Residence deed In accordance with paragraphs 18 et seq., the residence permit is valid only to a limited extent for uncomplicated employment of Ukrainian refugees.
Residence permit according to Article 24 of the Residence Act
The least bureaucratic solution is the residence permit in Article 24 of the Residence Act. This clause was activated on March 4, 2022 in response to the situation in Ukraine in order to provide people who have fled Ukraine with a so-called “humanitarian residence permit”. Beneficiaries can apply for a humanitarian residence permit at the responsible local immigration authorities. Passport or alternative passport In addition, the Ukrainian identity card, which most Ukrainian refugees hold, will be accepted as an alternative to a passport until February 23, 2023.
A legal problem with regard to access to the labor market is that a humanitarian residence permit according to Article 24 Para 6 Sentence 2 of the AufenthG expressly only allows employment if an official permit is available. This means that a Ukrainian refugee can take up a job only if he has been granted an official permit.
In order to defuse this problem, the Federal Ministry of the Interior ordered on March 14, 2022, that the responsible immigration authorities have no discretion in this regard. This means that all refugees who have a residence permit under Article 24 of the Residence Act are entitled to work. As a result, the residence permit according to Article 24 of the Residence Act is likely to be the least bureaucratic solution than the residence permit from Articles 18 et seq.
Please note that this information cannot replace individual advice. I am happy to advise you in person or online on your legal issues in employment law.