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Since 1 April 2012, foreign residents in Germany are entitled to have their qualifications recognised, regardless of their migrant status or nationality. One year after the Professional Qualifications Assessment Act (BQFG) came into force, roughly 30 000 foreigners have filed applications for the assessment of equivalence of their professional qualifications.
According to Federal Education Minister Johanna Wanka “full or partial equivalence with the corresponding German profession or occupation was established in most cases". Overall, 66% of the applications were granted full recognition, 30% were partly recognised and only 4% were rejected. Health professions (doctors, pharmacists, nurses, midwives etc.) have seen the highest rate of applications (more than 20 000 applications filed in the period between April and December 2012).
These numbers show that there is great demand for the assessment of professional qualifications, especially in professions which can only be practised by people with recognised qualifications and which are governed by Land law (including school and nursery school teachers and engineers). The Act has already come into force in the Länder of Hamburg, Saarland, Lower Saxony, Hessen and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The parliaments of Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia are currently debating the bills. As for Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein, the bills are expected to come under scrutiny of their respective parliaments soon.
The Recognition Act has many advantages. On the one hand, it helps the holders of foreign qualifications to feel welcomed and make use of their knowledge in Germany. On the other hand, it also contributes to supplying companies with much needed skilled labour force. Through the partial or full recognition of foreign training certificates, this law contributes to the gradual understanding and appreciation of the quality of foreign training.