Frank Schröder

Frank Schröder
Director, Head of Marketing & Communications

Büro Dusseldorf
+49 211 6901-1200

Employment of Ukrainian refugees in Germany: What employers need to know

Law

The European Union wants to take in war refugees from Ukraine quickly and unbureaucratically. Above all, they should have easier access to the labor market. War refugees with a residence permit for temporary protection are to be allowed to work also in Germany. What do employers have to bear in mind?

Due to the war in Ukraine, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that 250,000 refugees are on their way to Germany to seek safety and protection. Many companies want to help the refugees and offer them jobs. In advance, however, many questions arise in connection with hiring and employment, as both the EU and Germany have created special regulations in order to be able to provide assistance as quickly as possible.

1. Residence permit or application for asylum?

Refugees from Ukraine are granted temporary protection (one year to three years) on the basis of the EU Directive on the so-called mass influx (Directive 2001/55/EC), which was created after the Balkan wars and is being applied for the first time. As a result, persons covered by temporary protection are granted a residence permit by the locally competent Foreigners’ Registration Office. Admission to an initial reception center – as was the case during the 2015/16 refugee crisis – is not required.

Applications for asylum can be filed, but asylum procedures are suspended during the period of the residence permit. In addition, the filing of an application for asylum is not required due to the activated Directive to secure a residence permit.

2. Who is included in the group of persons with temporary protection status?

The persons covered by temporary protection are:

  • Ukrainian nationals who had their residence in Ukraine before February 24, 2022,
  • Stateless persons and nationals of third countries other than Ukraine who enjoyed international protection or equivalent national protection in Ukraine before February 24, 2022,
  • Family members of the first two groups of persons mentioned above (i.e., spouses, unmarried partners, minor unmarried children, and close relatives under additional conditions), even if they are not Ukrainian citizens; and
  • stateless persons and nationals of third countries other than Ukraine who can prove that they have legally resided in Ukraine before February 24, 2022, on the basis of a valid permanent residence permit issued under Ukrainian law and who are not able to return safely and permanently to their country or region of origin.

3. Do Ukrainian refugees need a work permit?

The residence permit for temporary protection is generally not considered a work permit. It requires a separate permit for dependent employment, which is also issued by the Foreigners' Registration Office. Although the enacted Mass Influx Directive allows member states to make access to employment subject to a priority check, access to employment in Germany does not require the approval of the Federal Employment Agency under the Employment Ordinance (Art. 31), so there should be no grounds for refusal.

According to the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, the work permit is to be issued unbureaucratically by the Foreigners' Registration Offices together with the residence permit.

No permit is required for self-employment.

4. What is the entry procedure with regard to Corona?

Since February 27, 2022, Ukraine is no longer classified as a high-risk area. Thus, under the Corona virus entry regulation, there is only a general pre-entry testing requirement, but no longer a self-isolation and registration requirement. Corona vaccinations are to be provided to Ukrainian refugees free of charge.

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