The Opportunity Card: A Game-Changer for Skilled Workers in Germany Under the New Immigration Act

Our team at Local Worldwide relocation is writing with an update on the new skilled immigration act, also known as Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz in German. The act passed in August 2023 and has brought about significant changes to the immigration process for skilled workers in Germany. We saw facets of the act go into effect in November 2023 and March 2024. The last round of changes under the new law will go into effect on 1. June 2024. A key component of the act is the Chancenkarte or “Opportunity Card” which serves as a points-based system for jobseekers.

What is the Opportunity Card?

The Opportunity Card allows non-EU residents to apply for a German work visa without the need for a pre-approved job offer. This means that workers can apply for a visa based on their qualifications alone, making it easier for them to secure employment in Germany. The Opportunity Card is designed to help fill gaps in the German labor market by attracting workers with the necessary skills and qualifications to meet the country’s economic needs.

How does the Opportunity Card work?

To apply for the Opportunity Card, workers must demonstrate that they meet the qualifications required for the job they are seeking in Germany. This may include providing proof of relevant work experience, education, and language proficiency. Job seekers can then apply for Opportunity Card through the German embassy or consulate in their home country.

The Opportunity Card is valid for up to one year and in certain instances can be extended up to an additional 2 years, during which time the visa holders can search for a job in Germany. Once they have secured employment, they can then apply for a resident permit using their Opportunity Card as proof of eligibility. The Opportunity Card is a valuable tool for workers seeking employment in Germany, as it streamlines the application process and makes it easier to secure a work visa.

How will the point system be accessed?

In order to qualify for the visa, applicants must have a minimum of 6 cumulative points. Those will less than 6 total points are not eligible to apply for this visa but can of course work toward securing additional points over time. Applicants can of course have more than a total of six points.

Requirements for all applicants (points will also be given for the below listed requirements):
-Proof of German language skills A1 or Proof of English language skills A2
-2-year vocational training program (Berufsbuildung) which is recognized in your country of origin or university degree
-Proof of financial means. Here applicants will need to transfer a funds into a separate account. Applicants can also secure a part time job known as a Nebenbeschäftigung in order to decrease the required funds. Applicants would want to provide a copy of a signed part-time contract when applying for a visa. Opportunity Card holders are eligible to work 20 hours weekly.

You will receive points for the above listed requirements. In addition, one can acquire additional points as follows:

4 Points:
-2-year vocational training program (Berufsbuildung) which is recognized in your country of origin in full or partially
-Certified or allowed to work in a regulated job. For example as a nurses or, medical assistant, kindergarten ‘teacher’ Erzieher or engineer.

3 Points:
-5 Years work experience in the last 7 years in the field of study or training
-Proof of German language skills B2

2 Points:
-2-year vocational training program (Berufsbuildung) and two-years work experience in the same field
-under 35 years old
-Proof of German language skills B1

1 Point:
-under 40 years old or resided in Germany for a minimum of 6 months in the last five years
– Proof of English language skills C1
– Proof of German language skills A2
-Vocational training program in a bottleneck job
-Simultaneous Application with spouse. Applications and supporting documents for both applicants must be submitted together.

How can I apply for this visa?

Potential applicants would submit their visa application and supporting documents to the German Embassy or Consulate in their country or country of residence.

We have seen the impact of the salary requirement changes last year as well as the March updates to the professional recognition requirements in recent Visa applicants. Local Worldwide Relocation will be updating you this summer on how we are seeing the skilled immigration act impact our clients and applicants for employment in Germany.

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