Working in Germany with the Opportunity Card

Use your professional training to immigrate to Germany

Advantages for applicants from non-EU countries

Until now, applicants from non-EU countries had to show a permanent employment contract or be considered a recognised skilled worker in order to work in Germany. Complicated entry procedures hinder the immigration of qualified workers from abroad. The Opportunity Card (“Chancenkarte”) is designed to change this. Applicants from non-EU countries are guaranteed a 12-month stay in Germany through the Opportunity Card in order to look for a job.

You can apply for the Opportunity Card either at the Foreigners’ Registration Office or at the competent German mission abroad in your country of origin (for example at the German Embassy).

Advantage 1: Fast Entry into Germany
Advantage 2: Chance of permanent residence
Advantage 3: Good Income
Advantage 4: Guaranteed Work Permit
Advantage 5: Possibility for Full-Time Work

You must meet these basic requirements

With the introduction of the new residence title, the Federal Government simplifies entry conditions for prospective workers from non-EU countries. To obtain the Opportunity Card, you only have to prove that you have completed (at least) two years of vocational training or a university degree and that you have basic knowledge of German (A1) or English (B2). You will be required to finance your own living expenses in Germany. If you meet these basic requirements, you can use a points system to check the qualifications you need. You must achieve at least six points to be allowed to work in Germany.

Key advantages of the Opportunity Card

  1. Easy and fast entry into Germany possibleIf you apply for the Opportunity Card, you do not require a permanent employment contract in advance. You can simply use the points system to prove your existing qualifications (e.g. language skills or work experience). This eliminates the need for a complicated examination procedure. The Opportunity Card permits you to stay in Germany for one year to look for a suitable job. Part-time or casual jobs of up to 20 hours a week are possible, as well as two-week trial jobs. With the Opportunity Card, you can get to know your new employer at your leisure and look for a job that suits you and your qualifications.
  2. Possibility of permanent residence in GermanyThe residence permit with the Opportunity Card is limited to one year as its primary purpose is for you to find a job. In addition to an unlimited number of trial jobs, part-time jobs of up to 20 hours a week are also possible, which can be divided up flexibly. Once you have found a suitable job, it is possible to extend your stay. For this purpose, you must also submit an application to the competent Foreigners’ Registration Office. If you intend to change from part-time to a full-time job, you have a good chance of obtaining a longer residence title. This is also possible if you wish to remain in part-time employment. Written proof, such as an agreement with your employer or a permanent employment contract, is important for extending your stay in Germany.
  3. Securing your livelihood with a good incomeThe Opportunity Card allows part-time employment on the basis of the minimum wage (or above). This is currently 12.00 euros gross per hour (as of May 2023). With a part-time job (20 hours per week), you can earn above 1000 euros per month. If you want to change to a full-time job, your net income will rise to well over 1000 euros a month. The earning potential depends on the sector you want to work in and your qualifications. With the Opportunity Card, you have a good chance of earning a fair wage so you can easily finance your everyday life in Germany.
  4. Guaranteed work permitUntil now, workers from non-EU countries have needed a visa to enter Germany and work here. This requires an existing job offer as the Federal Employment Agency often has to approve your stay. If you are not a recognised skilled worker, you can come to Germany with the Opportunity Card to look for a job locally. The basic requirement is (at least) two years of vocational training or a university degree according to the rules of your country of origin. In addition, you must have basic knowledge of German (A1) or English (B2) and also be able to prove this. To receive the Opportunity Card, you must also have sufficient financial means to secure your livelihood independently. This is usually possible with a part-time job (up to 20 hours per week).
  5. Good chance of a qualified part-time/full-time jobAs part of the Opportunity Card, you have the possibility to apply for two-week trial work (an unlimited number of times) or part-time work of up to 20 hours a week. If you find suitable employment during your stay, you have the prospect of a qualified part-time or full-time job. In order to be able to seek a full-time job in the future, you must change your residence title. The Opportunity Card only authorises you to look for a job in Germany. For a longer stay, you must apply for a corresponding residence title at your local Foreigners’ Registration Office. This should not be a problem if you can show proof of a future job offer or an employment contract.

Conclusion

The Opportunity Card gives you a quick and easy way to enter Germany and find a suitable job there. With the Opportunity Card, your residence permit is limited to 12 months. The focus of your stay is to search for a suitable job. If your search is successful, you have the option of changing to another residence title. If you find a job in Germany with the Opportunity Card, you can most likely extend your stay. To do so, you must submit an application to your local Foreigners’ Registration Office and have the necessary documentation ready (for example, an employment contract or an existing job offer).

You can apply for the Opportunity Card at the competent mission abroad in your country of origin or at your local Foreigners’ Registration Office in Germany. Please note that you must meet the following basic requirements: You need two years of vocational training or a university degree according to the rules of your country of origin. You do not have to have your degree specially recognised in Germany! In addition, you must have sufficient knowledge of German (A1) or English (B2) and the financial means to support yourself independently. This can be done by taking on a part-time job, for example, as is permitted under the Opportunity Card. Are you looking for a suitable part-time job? Then register for our newsletter and never miss another opportunity to find the right job!

If you meet the basic requirements for the Opportunity Card, you can easily prove your further qualifications through a points system. You need at least six points to meet the requirements for the Opportunity Card. Check your score now with our points calculator!

Application Assistant

Your personal assistant on the way to the opportunity card

FAQs

You can apply for the Opportunity Card at the relevant German mission abroad in your country of origin (for example, at the German Embassy or German Consulate). If you are already in Germany, simply submit the application to the relevant local Foreigners’ Registration Office.

In this case, please note that you must already be in possession of a valid residence permit or visa. In order to obtain the Opportunity Card, you must fulfil the necessary requirements and, if applicable, provide proof, for example, of your professional experience (vocational training + work experience) or your language skills (German A1 or English B2). You must also have sufficient financial means. You can prove this by means of an employment contract for a part-time job (up to 20 hours per week), for example. Please register for our newsletter if you are interested in such a part-time job.

You can apply for the Opportunity Card at the competent German mission abroad in your country of origin. To do so, you must fill out an application and hold a valid passport. You must also have proof of your education, language skills, previous stays etc. You must also have sufficient financial means. You can prove your financial security by means of an employment contract for a part-time job (up to 20 hours per week). Please register for our newsletter if you are interested in such a part-time job.

The responsible authority checks to what extent the applicant meets the criteria (based on the points system). Applicants should carry appropriate proof (employment references, certificates) with them. If you have already lived in Germany for a longer period of time, you can prove residence with the help of rental contracts, employment contracts or utility bills, for example.

You can apply for the Opportunity Card from 01 June 2024 at the local Foreigners’ Registration Office or the relevant German mission abroad in your country of origin. It expands the previous Skilled Immigration Act (in force since 1 March 2020) to include another residence title for qualified non-EU citizens. While the Skilled Immigration Act facilitates entry and residence, the Opportunity Card is explicitly intended to help people who do not yet have a permanent employment contract in Germany and want to look for a job locally.

To obtain the Opportunity Card, you must submit an application to the competent German mission abroad (for example, the German Embassy or German Consulate). To do this, you should have important documents ready, such as your passport as well as proof of language skills and your vocational training etc. You will also need these for the next steps with the Foreigners’ Registration Office.

The basic requirements for the Opportunity Card are language skills in German (A1) or English (B2) and (at least) two years of vocational training or a university degree. You must also have sufficient financial means. Proof of this can be provided by means of an employment contract for a part-time job (up to 20 hours per week), for example. Please register for our newsletter if you are interested in such a part-time job. If you cannot prove that you have the necessary language skills or a professional qualification according to the rules of your country of origin, you must fulfil these criteria before applying for the Opportunity Card.

The Green Card is a residence permit for the USA that is subject to strict conditions. A job-based Green Card requires a job offer, while family-based Green Cards can be applied for by family members in the US state. There is also a lottery process by which applicants can win the Green Card. Through the Green Card, US citizenship can be acquired after about 3-5 years.

The Opportunity Card in Germany differs from the Green Card in that it allows a period of residence of one year. You do not have to have a job offer or an employment contract or a family relationship. However, you must score at least six points in the points system for the Opportunity Card. Calculate your points for the Opportunity Card Germany now!

You do not need an employment contract in Germany if you want to apply for the Opportunity Card. However, you must have sufficient language skills (German A1 or English B2) and (at least) two years of vocational training or a university degree according to the rules of your country of origin. You must also have sufficient financial means. Proof of this can be provided by means of an employment contract for a part-time job (up to 20 hours per week), for example. Please register for our newsletter if you are interested in such a part-time job.

After receiving the Opportunity Card, you will receive a 12-month residence permit. During this time, you may look for a suitable job here or have your professional qualification recognised retroactively. You are allowed two weeks of work on a trial basis (an unlimited number of times) as well as part-time employment of up to 20 hours per week. The hours may be distributed flexibly.

According to the points system, you must obtain at least six points to receive the Opportunity Card. The criteria are as follows:

  • Language skills
  • Work experience
  • Age
  • Link to Germany

Calculate your points for the Opportunity Card now!

After receiving the Opportunity Card, you will receive a 12-month residence permit for Germany. During this period, you are allowed to look for a suitable job. Possible areas of activity are two-week trial jobs and part-time jobs with up to 20 hours per week. The trial work must be qualified or aimed at subsequent training. If you find a part-time / full-time job, you must apply to your local Foreigners’ Registration Office for another (longer) residence title for Germany. We assume that this change of residence title will be possible quickly and unbureaucratically.

You can prove your previous stay in Germany by means of a tenancy agreement, for example. In this regard, service charge statements that you received in the course of your tenancy also apply. Employment contracts and service contracts as well as wage payments also count as proof. Tourist stays are excluded.

The Opportunity Card gives you a legal residence permit that allows you to look for a job in Germany without a fixed employment contract (if you come from a non-EU country). Part-time employment of up to 20 hours a week is possible, as well as a trial job for two weeks. You can also have your vocational qualification recognised retrospectively with the Opportunity Card.

The duration of stay is limited to one year. If you do not find a suitable job, there is no entitlement to an extension after the time has expired. If you have a job, a longer stay in Germany is not linked to the Opportunity Card. Find out more about this at your local Foreigners’ Registration Office.

Applicants from non-EU countries can enter Germany more easily and look for work there more quickly. In addition, holders of the Opportunity Card have the chance to apply for a permanent residence title in Germany. Companies also benefit from this. For potential employers, the Opportunity Card greatly expands the pool of applicants.

Due to a deficit of skilled workers, Germany would have a shortage of about 16 million workers by 2060 – without immigration from abroad. (Source: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action) Many companies are already dependent on the support of individuals. With the Opportunity Card, both applicants and employers gain a long-term perspective on a positive development in the labour market.

With vocational training, you may take up qualified employment as a skilled worker. After you have applied for a corresponding residence permit, you can have your qualification subsequently recognised in Germany via a recognition partnership. To work in a regulated profession (e.g. in the health sector) you need a professional practice permit. This must be obtained before the residence permit. If you have a foreign university degree, you can apply for the “EU Blue Card” in order to pursue qualified employment in Germany. The Federal Employment Agency (BA) will check that your qualifications match your future job.

You are eligible for the “EU Blue Card” if you meet the minimum salary threshold of 55,200 euros gross per year (source: Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community) and if you can prove that you have a completed university degree. Special rules apply to certain professions (doctors, skilled workers in engineering, natural sciences and mathematics, and IT professionals): Here, an annual gross salary of 43,056 euros is sufficient (source: Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community). IT workers do not have to provide proof of their education for employment in Germany. They only need a concrete job offer with an annual gross salary of at least 52,560 euros.

You can prove your vocational training by means of final certificates or a certificate from your employer. This can be a copy of a training contract or confirmation from the training company. In addition, a recognition body yet to be defined by the German government must confirm “state recognition”. We are working on listing corresponding training courses for selected countries. You can read more about this in our blog. With a recognition partnership, you can prove your professional qualifications retrospectively.

For a recognition partnership or to receive the Opportunity Card, you must prove that your vocational qualification is recognised by the state. The recognition does not necessarily have to have taken place in your country of origin, but in the country where you completed your training. “State-recognised” here means that your qualification is based on state legislation and was awarded to you by an authorised person. Certificates can either be based on vocational training (of at least two years) or a university degree.

To receive the Opportunity Card, basic knowledge of German at level A1 or English at level B2 is required. Other language skills play a role in the points system. German at level A2 is awarded one point, German at level B1 is awarded two points, German at level B2 is awarded 3 points. English language skills at level C1 earn one additional point.

German tests

GER

  • Consists of four areas: Listening, reading, speaking and writing
  • Includes six levels (like all German tests)
  • Free online placement test
    A1 (understand simple German sentences)
    A2 (basic knowledge)
    B1 (intermediate)
    B2 (good Intermediate)
    C1 (advanced knowledge)
    C2 (excellent knowledge / mother-tongue level)

Goethe Certificate

  • German tests at Goethe-Institut
  • Online courses available
  • Certificates internationally recognised
  • Free placement test
  • Choose a language course at your level
    (A1 – A2 for language beginners, B1 – B2 for advanced knowledge, C1 – C2 as final levels)
  • Exams available after each level
  • Costs around 100 – 300 euros

TestDaF / Test German as a Foreign Language

  • German language skills tested at competence levels B2 – C1
  • Offered in over 1000 test centres worldwide
  • Tests reading comprehension, listening comprehension, written expression, oral expression
  • Available digitally
  • Costs around 215 euros

DSD / German Language Diploma of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs

  • Developed for foreign students
  • Exams twice a year at special DSD schools worldwide
  • Two diplomas available: DSD1, DSD2
  • Reading comprehension, listening comprehension, written expression, oral expression
  • Free of charge
  • Suitable for candidates at language levels A2, B1, B2, C1
English tests

TOEFL / Test of English as a Foreign Language

  • Online at special test centres
  • Duration around 4 hours
  • Reading comprehension, listening comprehension, speaking (conversation) and written expression (essay)
  • Costs around 200 euros
  • Important: Participation at short notice is not possible. You must register in good time at a test centre if you need a TOEFL certificate

IELTS / International English Language Testing Systems

  • British English as well as American English tests
  • Duration around three hours
  • Two variants: General (for expatriates and people who want to stay abroad for a longer period of time) and academic (for students who want to apply to a foreign university)
  • Listening (comprehension), reading (comprehension), writing (phrasing), speaking (conversation)
  • Costs around 226 euros
  • Provided by the British Council, available in 17 cities in Germany

Cambridge Certificate

  • Special feature: You must first choose your language level and then pass the test
    Various categories:
    A1 – A2 Basic Users = Elementary language use
    B1 – B2 Independent Users = Independent language use
    C1 – C2 Proficient Users = Competent language use
  • Duration around 3-4 hours
  • Consists of reading and use (text and reading comprehension), writing (formal language), listening (comprehension), speaking (conversation)
  • Costs around 200 euros
  • Offered by Cambridge University at 2700 test centres worldwide

Self-employment within the scope of the Opportunity Card is possible if you apply for a change to another residence title at the local Foreigners’ Registration Office. Within the framework of the Opportunity Card, employment of up to 20 hours per week and a two-week trial job (an unlimited number of times) are permitted.

With the Opportunity Card, you are allowed to do an unlimited number of trial jobs lasting up to two weeks each. The trial work must be qualified employment or aimed at the possibility of subsequent training so that you can achieve possible follow-up residence titles. In principle, you can switch between different trial jobs without any problems.

The relevant regulations of the expanded Skilled Immigration Act will come into force on 01 June 2024. You can obtain the Opportunity Card from the competent German mission abroad in your country of origin (German Embassy or German Consulate) from this date. If you are already in Germany and have a legal residence title, you can apply for the Opportunity Card at the Foreigners’ Registration Office.

In the points system for the Opportunity Card, you will find the criterion “Relevance to Germany”. This is not about language skills, but about previous stays in Germany (at least six months). Tourist trips (e.g. short stays within the framework of the Schengen Agreement, 90 days within 180 days) do not count here. Short-term trips to other EU states during the previous stay, on the other hand, are not a problem as long as the main focus of the stay continues to be in Germany.

As a skilled worker, you must have a vocational qualification or university degree. You do not have to be a recognised skilled worker to apply for the Opportunity Card. Instead, you must prove that you have completed (at least) two years of vocational training / a university degree according to the rules of your country of origin. Certificates of completion or written confirmation from your employer or training institution can serve as proof.

This does not apply to IT professionals, who do not have to prove a university degree or vocational training, but must demonstrate two years of professional experience and provide an existing employment contract. You can have your professional qualification subsequently recognised in Germany via a recognition partnership. If you do not have the relevant documents needed for proof, a qualification analysis may be an option.

With a recognition partnership, you can have your degree recognised in Germany and work at the same time. The recognition procedure only begins for you in Germany, so you can look for work from day one. The “post-qualification” takes place with the support of the employer and must be applied for at the relevant Foreigners’ Registration Office or at the German mission abroad in the country of origin.

For the recognition procedure, you must provide evidence of your vocational training and work experience, for example written confirmation from your workplace. If this evidence is missing, a qualification analysis can be considered, with which you may prove your knowledge and skills in practical terms.

The German authorities can issue as many Opportunity Cards as they wish. However, this may change if the demand is high. If there is too much demand for Opportunity Cards, the authorities are permitted to impose a specific quota.

If you are a person from a non-EU country (“third country”), you may apply for the Opportunity Card. To do this, you must submit an application to the German mission in your country of origin and provide evidence in the form of language skills and professional experience. You can obtain the Opportunity Card via a points system. Calculate your points for the Opportunity Card now!

As the holder of an Opportunity Card, you are not automatically entitled to have your family join you. This is only possible if you change from the Opportunity Card to another residence title. If you apply for the Opportunity Card together with your spouse, children may come to Germany with you.

It can take several weeks or months from the time you apply to the relevant Foreigners’ Registration Office or the German mission abroad in your country of origin until you are granted a residence permit in Germany with the Opportunity Card. The German authorities undertake to process the permit as quickly as possible and to check your documents as soon as possible.

You have to apply for another permit or for a permanent residence title in Germany at the local Foreigners’ Registration Office. You can change from the Opportunity Card to a follow-up residence title if you meet the criteria for the other residence titles. This could be language skills or specialist knowledge in your profession. If you have found a part-time or full-time job in Germany via the Opportunity Card, this counts as a criterion for extending your stay in Germany. Changing to a residence title for regular employment is uncomplicated.

The duration of stay in Germany with the Opportunity Card is exactly one year. An extension is possible but the requirements appear relatively strict. Instead, you can change to a follow-up residence title. You must apply for this at the local foreigners office (“Ausländerbehörde”). If you have already held the Opportunity Card, you can apply again (after a break of at least one year).

If you cannot prove your degree or professional experience with the necessary documents, you can have your skills and knowledge tested within the framework of a qualification analysis in Germany. You must apply for a corresponding residence title for this at the relevant Foreigners’ Registration Office. In doing so, you must prove that your vocational training qualifies you for qualified employment in Germany. You should have at least sufficient knowledge of German (A2), as the examination of your skills will take place in German.

With the qualification analysis, you can have your vocational training recognised by the state in Germany. Your skills and knowledge are tested in practice in a technical interview, through a work sample or through trial work in the company. This is not an examination, but practical proof of your qualification. After a successful qualification analysis, you will be granted full or partial recognition.

In order to prove sufficient financial means for the Opportunity Card, you usually have to present sufficient bank balances or regular proof of income. In doing so, you must prove that you have sufficient funds to secure your livelihood and, if applicable, that of your family members in Germany without having to rely on public funds from Germany.

The level of financial means that must be proven can vary from case to case. Since 1 January 2023, the assumed annual standard requirement for a so-called blocked account is 12,324 euros per person. The account may only allow the withdrawal of a certain amount per month. However, as mentioned, you may be able to prove your balance or income in other ways.

Another way of proving sufficient income is to sign an employment contract with a German employer for 20 hours per week before applying for the Opportunity Card. The regulations on the type of job are very generous here. For example, you can work in a restaurant or at a bakery. Thanks to the minimum wage that applies in Germany, such an employment contract should also be sufficient for proving financial means to the embassy.

We are currently working on listing offers of suitable part-time jobs (up to 20 hours per week) on this website. Please register for our newsletter service for the latest information.

No, the Opportunity Card is limited to Germany and does not automatically entitle you to work in other EU countries. If you also want to work in other EU countries, you must apply for a separate work permit and residence permit there. However, there are various EU regulations that make it easier to work in other EU countries, especially if you already work or have lived in another EU country. Find out about this from the competent authorities in the respective EU country.

For holders of the Opportunity Card there should be integration courses and language courses in Germany with which you can acquire basic language skills and knowledge of the country. Such courses are available in practically every major city and are offered regularly. If you want to stay in Germany for a longer period of time, you should take advantage of this offer.

The Opportunity Card allows you to work in Germany but not to take up studies. If you want to study in Germany, you must apply and be accepted for a degree program. There are special requirements and procedures for this, which may vary from university to university. You may also have to prove that you have sufficient knowledge of German or take a language test. If you have already completed vocational training or a degree in your home country, parts of your training or studies can be credited towards a degree program in Germany.

Chancenkarte Jobs!

With Chancenkarte Jobs! a job platform will soon be created here, bringing Chancenkarte candidates and jobs together. Register now to be among the first to access the platform.

Early Access to Chancenkarte Jobs!

Find jobs or candidates.

Enjoy exciting benefits for early users.

We use rapidmail to send our newsletter. When you subscribe, you consent to the entered data being forwarded to rapidmail. Please also see the GTC and data privacy statement .