How policies select immigrants: The role of the recognition of foreign qualifications


  • Monica Andriescu Lancaster University



recognition of foreign qualifications, intra-EU mobility, highly skilled immigrants, labour shortages, selection mechanisms


Although immigrants’ settlement and integration into the labour market are subject to a number of regulations, previous research has primarily investigated the role of admission policies in selecting immigrants. There are other policies, however – such as the recognition of foreign qualifications – that fulfil a similar role, although these policies are largely overlooked in the literature. This study explores the way these policies select among wanted and unwanted highly skilled immigrants, subsequently facilitating or hindering their integration into jobs matched to their level and type of qualifications. This article draws on semi-structured interviews with highly skilled Romanian immigrants with various professional qualifications and focuses on their experiences with recognition processes in Germany over the last decade, highlighting the procedures’ effects on individuals’ upward or downward employment trajectories.

Author Biography

Monica Andriescu, Lancaster University

Monica Andriescu is a Research Associate at Lancaster University. She successfully defended her doctoral dissertation at the Humboldt University Berlin in 2017 with a thesis that evaluated the effects of labour market, skills and immigration policies on the employment trajectories of highly skilled EU immigrants in several countries in the European Union (Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). Monica has also collaborated with the University of Oxford and the University of California (Santa Barbara) on a research project about the local integration of recent refugees in Germany and the United Kingdom, and with the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca on a project that investigated the determinants of immigrants’ political behaviour in the European Union. Monica currently researches adult skills and employment policies in the European Union and at the Member State level, including the transferability, validation and recognition of qualifications and skills acquired abroad. She published several articles in peer-reviewed journals on immigration, ethnic relations and identity politics.


Annerkenung in Deutschland [Recognition in Germany], available at

BAMF (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge). (2016). Migrationsbericht des Bundesamtes für Migration und Flüchtlinge im Auftrag der Bundesregierung. Berlin: Bundesministerium des Inneren.

Batalova, J., and Fix, M. (2015). Through an Immigrant Lens: PIAAC Assessment of the Competencies of Adults in the United States. MPI National Centre on Immigrant Integration Policy.

Bayerisches Verwaltungsverfahrensgesetz [General Administrative Procedures Act]: Anerkennung von Universitätsabschlüssen, akademischen Graden und Hochschultiteln, Bayerische Staatsministerium für Bildung und Kultus, Wissenschaft und Kunst [Recognition of academic degrees, titles, the State Ministry for Education and Cultural Affairs, Sciences and Art in Bavaria] at annerkennung-von-auslandsstudien-und-graden.html.

Bernardi, F., Garrido, L., and Miyar, M. (2011). “The Recent Fast Upsurge of Immigrants in Spain and their Employment Patterns and Occupational Attainment”. International Migration, 49(1).

BMBF (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung) [Federal Ministry for Education and Research]. (2012). Referat 325, Erläuterungen zum Anerkennungsgesetz des Bundes: Gesetz zur Verbesserung der Feststellung und Anerkennung im Ausland erworbener Berufsqualifikationen [Explanatory notes on the Federal Recognition Law aimed at the improvement of the assessment and recognition of professional qualifications acquired abroad], available at _anerkennungsg_bund.pdf.

Capuano, S., and Migali S. (2017). “The migration of professionals within the EU: Any barriers left?”. Rev Int Econ. 25:760-773.

Cedefop. (2010). The skill matching challenge: Analysing skill mismatch and policy implications, Luxembourg: 2010.

Chiswick, B., and Miller, P. (2009). “The international transferability of immigrants’ human capital”, Economics of Education Review, 28 (2): 162-169.

Dalichow, F. (1996). “Criteria and procedures for the recognition of foreign qualifications. Higher education in Europe”. UNESCO serial article, Series XXI, Issue 4.

Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications, available at

Donlevy, V., Curtarelli, M., McCoshan, A., and Meierkord, A. (2016). Study on Obstacles to Recognition of Skills and Qualifications. Final Report, Ecorys for the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (European Commission), available at

Drinkwater, S., Eade, J., and Garapich, M. (2009). “Poles Apart? EU Enlargement and the labor market outcomes of immigrants in the United Kingdom”, International Migration, 47(1): 162-190.

Duvander, A.-Z. (2001). “Do country specific skills lead to improved labor market positions? An analysis of unemployment and labor market return to education among immigrants in Sweden”, Work and Occupations, 28: 210-233.

ECB. (2012). Euro area labour markets and the crisis. Structural issues report, European Central Bank, Frankfurt am Main.

European Commission. (2012). Towards a job rich recovery. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – COM (2012) 173 final.

European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice. (2015). The European Higher Education Area in 2015: Bologna Process Implementation Report, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

EUROSTAT. (2016). Migration and migrant population statistics. Available at _population_statistics, accessed in October 2017.

Freeman, G.P. (2004). “Immigrant Incorporation in Western Democracies”, International Migration Review 38(3): 945-969.

Garben, S. (2010). “The Bologna Process: From a European Law Perspective”, European Law Journal, Vol. 16: 186–210.

Gesetz zur Verbesserung der Feststellung und Anerkennung im Ausland erworbener Berufsqualifikationen. (2011). [Federal Recognition Law aimed at the improvement of the assessment and recognition of professional qualifications acquired abroad], which was subsequently amended, available at anerkennungsgesetz_des_bundes.php.

Grünheid, E. (2015). Regionale Aspekte des demografischen Wandels. Wiesbaden: Bundesinstitut für Bevölkerungsforschung, available at Publikationen/DE/Broschueren/regionale_aspekte_2015.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=7.

ILO. (2014). Skills mismatch in Europe, Statistics Brief. Geneva: ILO.

Korpi, T. and Tåhlin, M. (2009). “Educational mismatch, wages, and wage growth: Overeducation in Sweden, 1974-2000”, Labour Economics, vol. 16(2): 183-193.

Levels, M., Dronkers, J., and Jencks, C. (2014). “Mind the gap. Compositional, cultural and institutional explanations for numeracy skills disparities between adult immigrants and natives in Western countries”. Harvard Kennedy School Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP14-020.

Mangelberufe für Fachkräfte, available at

Mangelberufe für Facharbeiter available at

McGoldrick, K. and Robst, J. (1996). “Gender differences in over-education: A test of the theory of differential over-qualification”. The American Economic Review, Vol. 86: 280-284.

OECD/ European Union. (2015). Indicators of Immigrant Integration. Settling In. OECD Publishing.

OECD. Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), available at

Reyneri, E., Fullin, G. (2011). “Labour Market Penalties of New Immigrants in New and Old Receiving West European Countries”, International Migration, Vol. 49(1): 31–57.

Simón, H., Ramos, R., and Sanromá, E. (2011). “Occupational Mobility of Immigrants in a Low Skilled Economy: The Spanish Case”, IZA Discussion Papers 5581, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

Schuster A., Desiderio M. V., and Urso G. (2013). Recognition of qualifications and competences of migrants (eds.), International Organisation for Migration.

Sloane, P., Battu, H. and Seaman, P. (1999). “Overeducation, Undereducation and the British Labour Market”. Applied Economics, Vol. 31: 1437- 1453.

Spence, A.M. (1973). “Job market Signaling”, Quarterly Journal of Economics 87: 355-374.

Spence, A.M. (1974). Market Signaling: International Transfer in Hiring and Related Screening Processes, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Verdugo, R. and Verdugo, N. (1989). “The Impact of Surplus Schooling on Earnings: Some Additional Findings”. Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 24: 629-643.




How to Cite

Andriescu, M. (2018). How policies select immigrants: The role of the recognition of foreign qualifications. Migration Letters, 15(4), 461–475.