Opportunity Card in Germany – The Chancenkarte Explained

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Researched & written

by Yvonne Koppen

Updated

The newly announced opportunity card in Germany, which translates into Chancenkarte, is a 12-month visa that helps skilled workers from non-EU countries move to Germany to look for a full-time job. It simplifies strict bureaucratic hurdles for work-related immigration. It is part of Germany’s new Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz, which aims to simplify immigration to Germany for skilled workers from non-EU countries. 

While the Chancenkarte has yet to be rolled out, this guide will explain everything we know thus far, including its launch date, requirements, how to apply, and how it will benefit you if you wish to work in Germany.

What is Germany’s new Chancenkarte?

Germany’s new Chancenkarte serves as a one-year visa, allowing you to live in Germany to find a full-time job. It uses a point system similar to the Canadian Comprehensive Ranking System to determine your likelihood of finding qualified work in Germany. Points are awarded for relevant qualifications like work experience, language skills, and ties to Germany.

With enough points, you can move to Germany and legally stay for up to a year. While looking for a full-time job, you can work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) or complete a two-week work trial. Once you have found full-time employment, you must apply for a work residence permit. In the long run, you may qualify for permanent residence

The big change with the Chancenkarte is that it focuses more on work experience than German recognition of foreign qualifications. The heavy bureaucracy during the recognition process has been the bottleneck in the past years for many foreigners.

The Chancenkarte or Job Search Opportunity Card for non-EU citizens is part of Germany’s new skilled workers immigration law (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz). In light of a severe shortage of skilled labor in various fields, the German government passed the new law in the summer of 2023. It aims to attract international talent and simplifies the requirements for work-related immigration to Germany for academics and skilled workers. 

When is the launch date of the Chancenkarte?

According to the German government’s website, Germany’s Opportunity card will launch in June 2024. The government has not communicated the exact launch date yet, but we believe it will be June 1st. 

What are the requirements of the Opportunity Card for Germany?

There are two different paths to obtaining the Chancenkarte.

Path 1: Your foreign qualifications (university degree or vocational training) gets fully recognized by the German government.

→ you qualify directly for the Chancenkarte without any further requirements

This process is very time-consuming and has always been the case for the Job Seeker Visa. The real big change for the Opportunity Card is the second path, as it no longer requires the long process to receive recognition from Germany for your foreign qualifications.

Path 2: Without recognition for your qualifications, you need to fulfill three basic requirements for the German Opportunity Card:

  • A professional qualification consisting of either:
    • a university diploma recognized by the issuing country
    • completed vocational training with at least two years of training recognized by the issuing country
    • a vocational qualification issued by a German Chamber of Commerce abroad
  • Language skills in German (min. A1 level) or English (min. B2 level) 
  • Enough financial means to support yourself while searching for a job in Germany

On top of the basic requirements, you must fulfill further personal, skill-based, and financial requirements to qualify for the German Opportunity Card. You receive points for most of the requirements depending on your skill level and experience. The total maximum points that can be achieved is 14. You must have at least 6 points in total to be granted the Chancenkarte.

How does the point system for the Chancenkarte work?

The point system for the German Opportunity Card is straightforward. You can receive between one and four points depending on various factors.

The four main categories for points are:

  • Education & work experience
  • Language skills
  • Your age
  • Your previous ties to Germany

Let’s look at each category in more detail.

Your education and work experience

Education and work experience are among the most important qualifications and yield the highest points for the Chancenkarte.

As we mentioned before, if the German government fully recognizes your professional qualifications (university degree or vocational training), you don’t need to ‘collect’ any further points. You automatically qualify for the Chancenkarte and can apply for it directly.

The table below highlights the points awarded for your qualifications without full recognition needed.

Points GrantedYour Qualification & Experience
4 PointsDiplomas and qualifications partly recognized by Germany
3 Points5+ years of work experience in the past 7 years in your qualified field
2 Points2+ years of work experience in the past 5 years in your qualified field
1 Additional PointVocational training in Germany´s bottleneck professions

Important to point out is that the work experience needs to correspond to the field of your qualification.

A bonus point is awarded should you have vocational training in one of Germany´s bottleneck professions, which include education, nursing and other health professions, crafts, construction professions, metal and mechanical engineering, and information technology.

Good To Know

Please view the official Information Portal of the German Government for the Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications to learn more about Germany´s complex recognition regulations. Germany´s recognition guidelines are stringent, so should your qualification not be recognized – don’t worry. You are not alone! There are enough other qualifications that get you points for the Chancenkarte

 

Your language skills

Unsurprisingly, your chances of finding work in Germany will increase significantly the better you speak German or English. Therefore, higher points are awarded for stronger language skills. You receive one point for A1 to A2 German skills, two points for B1 level, and three points for B2 level and above. An additional point is awarded for level C1 and above for fluent English skills.  

Points GrantedYour Language Skills
3 PointsGerman Level B2 and above
2 PointsGerman Level B1
1 PointGerman Level A1 - A2
1 Additional PointEnglish Level C1 and above

Your age

Your age also gets you points on the Chancenkarte. There are two age categories – under 35 and between 35 and 40. If you are younger than 35, two points are awarded to you. You are awarded one point if you are between 35 and 40.

Points GrantedYour Age
2 PointsUnder 35 years
1 PointBetween 35 - 40 years

Your ties to Germany

If you have lived in Germany for at least six months in the past five years, e.g., during a language course, student exchange, internship, or previous work experience, you will get one point for ties to Germany. 

Points GrantedYour Ties To Germany
1 PointPrevious stays in Germany of min. 6 months in the past 5 years

Additional Points

An additional point is awarded if you plan to move to Germany with your spouse, who is also eligible and planning on applying for the Chancenkarte.

Points GrantedAre You Married?
1 PointSpouse who is also eligible for the Opportunity Card

As stated above, you must receive a minimum of six points to qualify for the Opportunity Card. A few unofficial Opportunity Card calculators are available online to help you calculate your points. Please note that you must enter your email to receive your points. 

What are the costs for an Opportunity Card for Germany?

The exact costs for the German Opportunity Card are yet to be announced. It is likely that the application fee will be similar to the fee for German visas, which is 75 euros.

Next to the application fee, remember that you must prove that you can financially support yourself during your stay in Germany. There are two ways to do this:

Option 1: Prove that you already have a part-time job in Germany 

You can prove that you already have a part-time job for up to 20 hours per week in Germany. However, finding a part-time job without being in the country is challenging, so option two might be more realistic for many.

Option 2: Prove that you have enough financial means to sustain yourself

To prove that you have enough financial means to make a living in Germany, you must have 11.208 euros (or 934 euros per month) in a blocked account. We have linked our detailed guide below to learn more about blocked accounts and where you can get one.

How to apply for the Chancenkarte (online)?

There has yet to be information on where and how to apply for the German Chancenkarte. You will likely be able to apply online through the official website of the German government. When filling out the application form, be prepared to provide proof of your qualifications through diplomas, past work contracts, references, and language certificates. As a second step, you can expect to need an in-person appointment at your local German embassy or mission for final processing. 

What residence permit will you get with the Chancenkarte visa?

The Chancenkarte lets you stay in Germany for up to a year to find full-time employment. It serves as a one-year residence permit, allowing you to work up to 20 hours per week. Once you have found a full-time job, you must apply for a work-related residence permit with your local immigration office in Germany. 

What are the differences between the Chancenkarte and the Job Seeker Visa?

The Chancenkarte and the German Job Seeker Visa are similar in their intention but differ in their requirements and permitted duration of stay. 

Until the Chancenkarte is rolled out, you must apply for a job seeker visa if you wish to move to Germany to find work. To be eligible for the job seeker visa, your academic or vocational qualification must be recognized in Germany, and you must have at least five years of work experience in your related profession. Once the visa is granted, you may stay in Germany for up to six months; however, part-time employment is not allowed, meaning you must cover your expenses by savings alone through a mandatory blocked account.

To see the benefits of the new Chancenkarte in comparison to the Job Seeker Visa, we have summarized the most essential differences in the table below:

Opportunity CardJob Seeker Visa
Minimum qualificationsProfessional qualification and 2+ years work experienceDegree or vocational training recognized by Germany
Required language levelMin. A1 level in German OR B2 level in EnglishMin. B1 level in German (if you have vocational training)
Visa duration1 year6 months
Required Funds€11.208 €5.604
Is paid work allowed?Yes, up to 20 hours a weekNo

Conclusion

As part of the new law for skilled immigration, Germany´s new Chancenkarte offers skilled international workers from non-EU countries the opportunity to move to Germany to look for a full-time job. It abolishes many bureaucratic hurdles and puts more emphasis on work experience rather than the German recognition of international diplomas. While many details are still unknown, the Opportunity Card will make it easier for skilled workers to come to Germany to look for a job and for Germany to find suitable candidates in its bottleneck industries.

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About the Author

Yvonne Koppen is a researcher and writer at Simple Germany, focusing on demystifying German bureaucracy for international skilled workers.

She has lived and worked abroad, which helps her understand how difficult a move to a new country can be. Beyond her professional pursuits, Yvonne loves to plan and go on road trips, puzzle, and do a triathlon here and there.

She is committed to creating accessible, empowering content through her writing and YouTube videos. Yvonne's passion for continuous learning and her ability to simplify complex topics make her an invaluable resource for expats seeking to navigate their new life in Germany.