What is the Opportunity Card?
In early 2024, Germany will introduce a new points-based immigration program, to attract more international talent. This new path will be introduced in addition to existing immigration routes.
If you are an international professional looking to migrate to Germany but are having trouble finding a job from abroad, the points-based opportunity card could be the solution for you.
It will allow you to come to Germany and search for a job on site, for up to one year, with an option to extend it for one more year. You will need to cover your living expenses during your stay in Germany, but you will be able to work part-time and take on short trial positions until you get a full-time job in your field of expertise.
To qualify for the opportunity card, you must meet three preconditions and reach enough points in 8 categories.
- You hold a university degree or have completed a professional training of at least 2 years at an accredited institution.
- You can prove that you can cover your living expenses yourself during the entire stay.
- You can prove that you speak German at least on level A1 OR English on level B2.
If you already have a degree that is recognized in Germany, you will automatically qualify for the Opportunity Card. If not, there are various criteria that can be used to earn the necessary 6 points.
You can apply at the German embassy in your home country, at the German embassy in another country where you hold legal residence, or at an immigration office in Germany, if you hold a citizenship that enables you to enter Germany for long-term stays without a Schengen visa.
With my free points calculator, you can check if you will meet the requirements and earn enough points to get the Chancenkarte.
Criteria for the Opportunity Card
Germany's immigration reform in 2023
On June 23, 2023, the German Parliament approved a reform of the Skilled Immigration Act, which has been in place since March 2020, with the aim of making it easier for skilled professionals from non-EU countries to immigrate to Germany.
In the future, labor immigration will be based on three pillars:
The qualification-based pillar remains the central element of labor immigration to Germany.
As before, it includes:
- The EU Blue Card for foreign university graduates with recognized degrees
- The residence permit for foreign skilled workers with recognized qualifications (university degrees or vocational qualifications /Berufsausbildung)
The most important changes are:
- Skilled immigrants with recognized qualifications will be able to take up any qualified employment. The job will no longer have to match their formal qualification.
- The salary thresholds for the EU Blue Card will be lowered from 4,860 EUR to 3,650 EUR gross per month, making it much easier for young professionals to get a job in Germany.
- The period for obtaining a settlement permit will be shortened from five to three years.
- Blue Card holders will find it easier to change employers and bring their families to Germany, including their parents.
- Experienced IT specialists without formal qualifications in IT will also be eligible to qualify for the Blue Card.
The experience-base pillar is intended to enable skilled workers to immigrate, even if their professional qualifications have not previously been recognized in Germany.
The applicants will have to meet these conditions:
- The applicant has a professional qualification of at least two years that is officially recognized in their country and two years of professional experience.
- The employment contract must be in a non-regulated profession.
- The salary must reach a certain threshold or be linked to a collective agreement.
👉 If their salary meets a certain threshold (to be determined) or is linked to a collective agreement, internationals can continue working without a recognized degree.
👉 If their salary is lower than the threshold or not linked to a collective agreement, they can start working in Germany but must obtain full recognition of their qualifications within a specific timeframe (Anerkennungspartnerschaft).
There is already an exception to the recognition requirement for experienced IT specialists. These can take up work in Germany even if they do not have a recognized degree in IT. In the future, the salary thresholds are to be lowered for them and they should no longer have to prove their knowledge of German.
The potential-based pillar is intended for immigrants who don’t yet have a job offer in Germany.
- The core of this pillar is the introduction of a points-based system. Selection criteria include qualifications, language skills, professional experience, reference to Germany, and age.
- Applicants must provide proof that they can cover their living expenses during their entire stay in Germany.
- Successful applicants will receive an opportunity card (Chancenkarte) for job hunting and will be allowed to work up to 20 hours a week while searching for a job.
- The opportunity card will be issued for up to one year and can be extended for up to two years.
If you would like to explore your immigration options and chances to land a job in Germany in more detail, you are welcome to book a Consultation with me.
Apply for the Opportunity Card
The new German immigration law will come into force in November 2023, but the changes will be introduced gradually over the following 6 months. Even though applications for the Opportunity Card won’t open for a few more months, it’s important to prepare ahead of time for the launch.
Keep in mind that only 25,000 Opportunity Cards will be available annually, and appointments in each country for this visa category will be limited. To boost your chances of securing one, it’s vital to apply as soon as the Opportunity Card is launched.
Book my Opportunity Card Service to ensure you receive timely updates, prepare your application in advance, and be among the first recipients of the Opportunity Card!
Opportunity Card Service
Answer to one individual question about the Opportunity Card
Timely updates about the requirements and the application procedure
Alert when the Opportunity Card becomes available for application at your desired location
Detailed instructions on how to prepare your application and complete the application form