The US and Germany are among the world's major countries of immigration. The US takes in more immigrants than any other country, and Germany is the chief destination of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe. Nothing suggests the influx of migrants to either country will soon cease. Population growth in both countries is fueled by immigration. In the US about one-third of population growth is due to immigration; in Germany, 100% of the population growth is due to immigration. About 8% of the 260 million US population are foreign-born, and almost 9% of Germany's 81 million residents are foreigners. Some foreign-born residents in the US are naturalized US citizens, and about one-sixth of Germany's foreigners were born in Germany (persons born in the US are automatically US citizens; persons born in Germany acquire the nationality of their parents).
Germany proclaims that it does not wish to become a country of immigration, but provides a relatively generous set of services to legal foreigners. The US, by contrast, basks in its immigrant heritage, but provides relatively few public services to help to integrate newcomers.
Immigration. The two parts of Germany have been affected differently by migration. The former West Germany added 13 million net immigrants between 1950 and 1993, while the former East Germany lost 5 million residents because emigration exceeded immigration. The former West Germany included in 1993 about 4 in 5 Germans, and virtually all of the 7 million foreigners in Germany live in the former West Germany. Germany is unlikely to remain a country in which foreigners arrive and remain foreigners. If a net 400,000 immigrants continued to arrive annually, Germany would have a population of about 90 million, of whom 30% would be foreigners. Major cities such as Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Munich, which are now about one-quarter foreigners, would have populations that were half or more foreign. Since 1 in 6 foreigners in Germany today was born in Germany -- 1.2 million of 7 million -- and half have lived in Germany for 10 or more years, the status quo of foreigners remaining foreigners is not likely to continue.
Most of the foreigners arriving in Germany over the past 5 years seeking to settle have arrived as asylum seekers. In Germany and all of the industrial democracies, the majority of asylum applications are rejected, so that separating genuine and false asylum applicants is a major objective of all asylum systems. When the number of asylum seekers surges, as it did in 1992 in Germany to about 438,000, the cost of housing, feeding, and deciding asylum cases -- some DM 6 to 8 billion or $4 to $5 billion -- can equal contributions for development assistance (Germany provided $7 billion ODA in 1993). Both Germany and the US have invented in-between categories for aliens who are not eligible for asylum, but who nonetheless are not deported. The US and German acronyms -- TPS, DED, "tolerated" -- reflect the expectation that these aliens will eventually depart.
Germany recruited guest workers between 1961 and 1973, when their number peaked at 2.6 million, making 1 in 8 workers a foreigner. Over the next 15 years, these foreign workers united their families in Germany, and second and third generation-foreigners joined their parents in the German work force. In the 1990s Germany responded to rising migration pressures from the east after 1989 with 5 distinct foreign worker programs that involve some 350,000 foreigners, and add the equivalent of about 150,000 full-time workers to the German work force. However, unlike 1960s guest worker programs, 1990s foreign worker programs had a different purpose -- to cope with micro- rather than macro-labor shortages, and to make inevitable migration legal. The most important program involves project-tied workers. Under this program, German firms subcontract with foreign firms, and the foreign firm supplies the expertise and workers to complete a particular phase of a project. There were an average 40,000 project-tied foreign workers in Germany in 1994, down from 60,000 in 1992 because of scandals that involved German contractors using project-tied agreements as backdoor guest worker programs.
Most newly-arrived foreign workers are employed seasonally in Germany. A peak 150,000 seasonal foreign workers in 1994 contributed the equivalent of 40,000 FTE to the German labor force. Seasonal foreign workers can remain 90 days in Germany, and most are employed in agriculture, restaurants, or construction. If the workers are employed less than 2 months, the workers and their employers do not have to pay social security taxes on their wages. The third program is for border commuters from the Czech Republic and Poland. If local workers are not available in Germany within 50 km of these eastern borders, then employers can request permission from the German Employment Service to employ commuter workers at prevailing wages who can remain in Germany for up to 2 nights weekly. However, most of the industrial democracies have heeded the advice of the OECD and deregulated their labor markets, and most today play less of a job-matching role in labor markets. The German ES matches about 35 percent of all job seekers and jobs, the US ES three to four percent -- giving governments less credibility when considering employer requests for foreign workers.
Are you an IT pro? Get your act together if you wish to work in Germany. For, there is a job opportunity for you as the country faces the highest shortage of highly qualified IT professionals. In 2002, they introduced a 'German Green Card' for IT specialists. This card allows employers to fill up a vacancy with transnationals if there is a shortage of homegrown professionals. The bad news however is that in other sectors (other than IT), the employment prospects in Germany are not so good. In fact, responding to the high level of unemployment in the country in 1973 the German government put an absolute ban on the recruitment of foreigners in other sectors.
To work in Germany, one needs, first and foremost, a work permit and a visa. To obtain the permit, s/he must have a valid job offer from a German employer. For IT professionals seeking a Green Card, the job offer should entail an annual salary of 77,400 DM /$39,575, or else 100,000 DM/$51,130. The implicit guarantee is that an IT pro can obtain a visa within a few days of applying. IT professionals with lower salaries and other job aspirants have to apply for a 'conventional type' work permit. They must also possess proof of having the requisite skill for the job (a college degree) and work experience of at least a year or two. Finally, they must also be able to demonstrate a working knowledge of the German language. Besides, the prospective employer has to establish that the candidate is well qualified for the post in question and that he is unable to recruit a suitable German candidate for the post.
Application forms can be obtained from the German Embassy or Consulate or can be downloaded from their website. Submit the form to the German Embassy or to the German Consulate General. Applications must be submitted in person or through an approved travel agent. Forms sent via mail are summarily rejected. The documents that you need to furnish with the completed form are a valid passport, two passport-size photographs and an employment contract. It normally takes up to three months for the clearance to come. Once the application is approved, the candidate is issued a travel visa valid for three months. After arriving in Germany, s/he has to immediately register with the authorities until the work permit is extended.
You did not mention the easiest way to get residency. Marriage. Gay one included.