Thomas Faist, Mustafa Aksakal, Kerstin Schmidt

Indian high-skilled migrants and international students in Germany

Migration behaviors, intentions and development effects

Format Type
Date of publication
1. edition
68 pages, PDF


Free of charge


Although Indian immigration to Germany is not a new phenomenon, more recent inflows to ‘Germany differ in both quantitative and qualitative terms from previous ones. For instance, the number of Indian migrants from India living in Germany more than doubled from almost 32,000 in 1990 to 68,000 in 2015. In addition, there also seems a trend towards longer stays of both international students and high-skilled migrants from India in Germany, while the share of international students who stay is much higher than the share of high-skilled migrants.

The empirical findings show that different expectations and experiences on the part of individual migrants and diverse social dynamics and processes in relation to India and Germany often affect the intentions of the Indian migrants, both in terms of the choice of Germany as a destination and the length of stay in the country. While for international students the most important motives for coming to Germany are the good reputation of certain courses of study and the low costs of tertiary education, for high-skilled migrants the major reasons is the attractiveness of certain labor market sectors.

The findings also indicate that career development, individual autonomy, working conditions at German companies and high living standards affect migrants’ intentions to stay longer. In turn, the most significant aspects leading migrants to stay for a shorter period are social responsibility in India, identification with the homeland, and social integration issues in Germany, including problems in labor market inclusion and complex bureaucratic procedures.


In order to tackle these problems, the authors recommend to strengthen efforts to recruit prospective students and professionals in India by i.e. increasing existing initiatives like “Make it in Germany” and to provide opportunities for family members in gaining access to the labor market and adequate educational institutions.

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