Germany Introduces ‘Opportunity Card’ For Skilled Workers: Get All Details Here

Opportunity Card, natively known as “Chancenkarte” is a new visa system for candidates from non-EU countries to to look for a suitable job in Germany. It comes into effect starting June 1, 2024.
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Addressing the growing demand for skilled workers across key sectors like healthcare, engineering, and information technology (IT), Germany recently introduced changes to its skilled worker visa norms. The country launched a new initiative called the 'Opportunity Card' to fill its rising labour demands. Germany requires around 400,000 skilled employees annually to cover shortages in its specialised areas of work. Effective from June 1, 2024, the Opportunity Card initiative would allow non-European Union (EU) nationals to relocate to Germany for a year who are in search of job opportunities. However, despite the announcement of this new program, other existing mechanisms for skilled professionals with a university certification, like the ‘EU Blue Card’, will continue and in a few cases may get an extension.

What is Germany’s Opportunity Card?

Opportunity Card, natively known as “Chancenkarte” is a new visa system for candidates from non-EU countries to to look for a suitable job in Germany. It comes into effect starting June 1, 2024. 

This work pass is part of Germany’s broader strategy to bridge the demand gap between skilled labour and vacant positions across key sectors of growth opportunities particularly in areas such as healthcare, IT and engineering, IT.  The Opportunity Card will be issued to candidates recognised as skilled workers, as per the official Chancenkarte website.

The new visa system operates on a ‘points system’ wherein candidates can ensure eligibility if they are qualified teachers, nurses, or engineers who are proficient in English or German. 

Eligibility criteria for Opportunity Card:

  • Candidates must have finished at least two years of vocational training. If not, they need to hold a relevant university degree from their home country

  • Candidates need to be proficient in either German or English language(s). 

  • Candidates have to demonstrate enough funds or income from a part-time job (up to 20 hours a week) to establish that they can support their stay in Germany for a year (Amounting over 12,000 Euro).

Increased Flexibility For Skilled Professionals:

  • Germany has extended the residence permit to 24 months for first-time recipients. Earlier, it was granted for 18 months to complete adaptation requirements.

  • The residence permit can be further extended for an additional 12 months. The maximum residency period would be banked at three years.

  • As per the changes, the allowance for secondary employment during the qualification procedures has been levelled from 10 to 20 hours per week. This facilitates easier access for skilled professionals looking for opportunities in the job market.

Foreign Qualifications To Check

Under the new changes, Germany has further simplified the norms for recognising foreign qualifications under its new Skilled Immigration Act. It has introduced two new pathways:

  • Candidates whose qualifications need a skill analysis to endure equivalence may get a permit of residence for up to six months while the evaluation is in process.

  • Candidates seeking this pathway will have to show proficiency in the German language at level A2 or higher (CEFR).

Requirements for Accompanying Family Members

Germany has further streamlined the immigration process for family members accompanying skilled professionals, it has:

  • Eliminated the need for spouses or minor children to show proof of enough living space when moving to join the skilled professionals. The change would facilitate a convenient transition for families relocating with skilled professionals to the country.

Understanding the ‘Points System’ of the Opportunity card

The applicants will be ranked using a points system with the minimum requirement being six points. As per the official Chancenkarte website, this is how the point distribution system will work:

  • Four points will be given for partial recognition of a foreign professional qualification or for a permit to practise regulated work such as that of a teacher, nurse or engineer. ‘Very few applicants meet these criteria,’ it notes.

  • Three points will be given to applicants for five years of professional experience in the last seven years with respect to their learned profession. This also includes the preceding two years of professional training as per the rules of the home country. The candidates will get three points for good German language proficiency at level B2.

  • Two points will be given for two years of professional experience preceded by vocational training in the last five years. Applicants will also get two points if they are not older than 35 and/or show proficiency in the German language at level B1.

  • One point will be awarded to candidates who are under the age of 40 and also for a previous stay in Germany (no less than six months). Previous stays as a tourist will not be taken into consideration for any point.

  • One point will also be extended for proficiency in English (C1), and knowledge of German language (A2). This will also be applicable for candidates who had their vocational training or university degree in a sector of official labour shortage in Germany, or they apply for the ‘Opportunity Card’ together with their spouse.

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