The authority for foreigners
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All people who do not have a German passport inevitably have to deal with the authority for foreigners (Ausländerbehörde) in Germany. German residence laws distinguish many purposes of residence. These can be for example on the basis of professional qualifications, family reasons or seeking asylum. In particular, people who do not hold citizenship of an EU country or have a permanent residence permit in another EU country and wish to work in Germany face many legal hurdles. For example, the so called »labor-market test« (Vorrangprüfung) still applies to them. In the following video, Jab Ben talks about how the labor-market test works, what effects it had on his residence permit and how it affected his choice of job:
As Jab Ben explains in the video, three employment contracts he submitted were rejected due to the »labor-market test« (Vorrangprüfung). In addition to an employment contract, people who fall under this paragraph must prove they have a valid certificate of registration (Anmeldung). Jab Ben and Zagalo explain what this double burden meant for their lives in Germany in the following video:
These legal regulations are enforced by the authority for foreigners, where many people experience discrimination. In the following video, Zagalo reports on his experiences with the Frankfurt authority for foreigners:
For those whose residence permit is tied to their job, the Corona pandemic is a challenge. Losing a job or working short hours means not only financial worries, but also fear for the residence title. Jab Ben and Zagalo share how the Corona pandemic has affected their residence permit and job in the video below:
Many people who have to go through these legal procedures are resisting them and organising themselves together in networks and initiatives. They try to solve the problem of no work no home, no home no work together and support each other in their daily lives together. One of these initiatives is Project Shelter. For more information on this initiative see the station on the Paradieshof.
Residence laws in states do not arise by chance, but are constantly changing and emerge against the background of historical developments and the prevailing structures in that society at that time. One of the most important differentiating criteria within a state is citizenship. It determines »citizens« who have privileges such as access to education, the social system, the labour market or the health system.
Categorised according to nationality and economic usability
For people who do not have a German passport and want to work in Germany, the right of residence is very different. In the case of the interviewees in the videos, criteria of nationality and the economic value of the labour force come together. For a work visa, a distinction is made on the one hand according to nationality, since the interviewees have a long-term residence permit in other European countries, but not the nationality of an EU country. On the other hand, economic exclusion mechanisms play a role, as they cannot prove that they have an academic or vocational qualification recognised in Germany, which would bring them under the Skilled Workers Immigration Act and they do not have to go through a priority check. In this way, the state regulates the competition on the labour market in a nationalistic way: EU citizens have priority, other people are given access depending on their economic usability. In this way, a multiple categorisation takes place, based on nationalist, racist and capitalist logics.
Institutional racism in the foreigners authority
These logics are reflected in people’s experiences, for example, with institutional racism in the immigration office. This is done on the basis of the supposed skin colour, culture, religion or ethnic origin that is attributed to the people concerned by the employees of the authorities. Another aspect of this discrimination is that only certain skills are recognised as relevant and experiences and knowledge that deviate from these are devalued. For example, some people speak many languages, but only their knowledge of German counts in the authority for foreigners. Copwatch FFM speaks about institutional racism and police controls at the Copwatch station.
What is the labor-market test (Vorrangprüfung)?
Many people who come to Germany from another EU country with a residence permit are not allowed to choose their job freely. The labor-market test applies to them. In the labor-market test (Vorrangprüfung), the person concerned must submit their employment contract to the authorities for examination before they are allowed to take up the job. This examination often takes several months. The authority for foreigners instructs the employment office to check whether there are hypothetically other suitable applicants with German or European passports for the employment contract submitted. After the approval of the employment contract, the residence status is initially linked to this one employment contract for one year.
Since 2019, the abolition of the so-called labor-market test (Vorrangprüfung) has been enforced for the majority of asylum seekers and »tolerated persons« permanently in Germany in order to facilitate their access to the labour market. However, according to §38a of the Act on the Residence, Employment and Integration of Foreigners in the Federal Republic of Germany, this does not apply to »holders of residence permits in other member states of the European Union on a permanent basis«. Under the Skilled Workers Immigration Act (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz), only people with vocational training and/or academic degrees recognised in Germany are also exempt from the priority check.
Residence Act: Section 38a Residence permit for long-term residents in other member states of the European Union
Deportation prisons and the resistance against them
The authority for foreigners
The difficult way to both a residence and working permit
Working in Frankfurt
The fight for workers’ rights
Racial Profiling as a constant threat
The fight for a selforganised migrant center
The attack in Hanau
Against racist terror and oblivion
Important hub for migrant life
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