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Germany's new Opportunity Card

Belinda Grace | 09.10.2023

According to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate, the country’s economy will suffer from a shortage of about 16 million skilled workers by 2026. To fill the gap, Germany needs to rely on skilled immigrants.

 

That’s why, in June 2023, the German Bundestag announced the new Skilled Immigration Act. An important element of this law is the so-called ‘Chancenkarte’ (Opportunity Card): a new employment visa for highly qualified workers to live and work in Germany. The Chancenkarte is planned to take effect on 1 June 2024.

In this article, we highlight the benefits of the Chancenkarte and talk about what highly qualified immigrants, global acquisition managers and employers in Germany need to know about this new work visa.

How does the Chancenkarte work and who needs it?

The Chancenkarte allows recognised skilled workers from countries outside of the European Union to find work and live in Germany.

 

With the Chancenkarte, applicants can work in Germany without going through a lengthy recognition procedure. They also don’t need a fixed employment contract from the get-go.

 

Applicants need to meet the following basic requirements to qualify for the Chancenkarte:

 

  • at least 2 years of vocational training or a university degree from their country of origin
  • basic German (A1) or upper intermediate English skills (B2), certified by a competent language institute (e.g., Goethe-Institut, TOEFL, Cambridge Certificate, etc.)
  • proof of financial security, e.g., a part-time job (up to 20 hours/week)

 

The Chancenkarte builds on a point system (like in Canada, for example) where at least 6 points need to be fulfilled. Applicants get points based on their work sector (e.g., STEM, health care), years of work experience, advanced German and English skills, or a pre-existing connection to Germany, among other things.

 

The Chancenkarte is initially issued for 1 year. If the cardholder has proof of an employment contract or a job offer in their sector after that, it can be extended for another 2 years. Anyone with a degree recognised in Germany automatically meets the prerequisites for a Chancenkarte.

Chancenkarte

What are the benefits of having a Chancenkarte?

Chancenkarte holders have an easier time getting started in Germany.

 

Until now, applicants from third countries had to find a job with a permanent employment contract in their field of work within 3 months of entering Germany. The new Chancenkarte gives job seekers 1 year to find a job and everything that goes along with it.

 

It also allows highly qualified immigrants to work up to 20 hours a week and earn over 1,000 euros a month. This work arrangement can either be a part-time job (employed for up to 20 hours/week) or a so-called ‘Minijob’, which allows workers to earn up to 520 euros per month tax-free.

 

The Chancenkarte also lets employers based in Germany hire qualified workers outside of the EU with fewer time and administration constraints. Because the Chancenkarte doesn’t need the German Federal Employment Agency to weigh in anymore, it speeds up approval times.

Do you need translated or certified documents to apply for a Chancenkarte?

Depending on the immigrant’s country of origin, various professional approval processes come into play that determine which certified translations may be required. At this stage, there are no clear guidelines on translated or certified documents in the context of the Chancenkarte.

 

Regulated or legally protected professions are straightforward to prove with the help of a recognition partnership.

With non-regulated professions, such as journalists or IT specialists, a competent authority in the respective federal state determines the equivalence of that profession.

 

Aside from that, skilled workers and their families may need certified translations for their general life in Germany.

 

Documents relevant to life and work in Germany include:

 

  • diploma/certificate translations
  • driver licence translation
  • birth certificate translations
  • marriage certificate translations

 

Speaking of language: Chancenkarte holders get to take part in language and integration courses once they’ve moved to Germany. An extensive knowledge of the country’s culture and language makes living in that country a lot easier. Solid German skills also increase the chances for a Chancenkarte renewal after the initial first year.

 

Conclusion

As part of the new German Skilled Immigration Act, the Chancenkarte (‘Opportunity Card’) aims to make it easier for skilled workers from non-EU countries to live and work in Germany from 1 June 2024. To qualify for this new work visa, applicants must meet basic criteria (such as language skills, vocational training/graduation certificate, financial security) and check off at least 6 points on the underlying point system.

 

With the Chancenkarte, highly qualified job seekers no longer have only 3 months but up to 1 year to find permanent work in Germany. In the meantime, they can take on a part-time job outside their professional qualification.

Thanks to these new regulations, companies looking for skilled labour will have the opportunity to increase their applicant pool and cut through the bureaucratic noise when hiring someone new.

 

Although there are no clear guidelines yet, German authorities may ask for translated or certified documents as part of the application process (professional qualifications, CV, marriage certificate, etc.). Chancenkarte holders also benefit from language and integration courses once they’ve moved to Germany.

About the author

Belinda Grace, Content Writer

Belinda has been working with the lingoking marketing team since early 2022. She’s in charge of researching and writing social media posts as well as blog and website content, focusing on language and marketing. Her motto: “Begin each day as if it were on purpose“.

Portrait of Belinda Grace, Freelancer at lingoking

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