Attract foreign professionals to your company
The opportunity card gives foreign skilled workers the chance to work in Germany.
Opportunity Card Countdown
Advantages for employers
The shortage of skilled workers is reaching a high level in Germany. Employers are clearly feeling the impact: applications are failing to materialise and some vacancies cannot be filled. According to a forecast by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, there could be a shortage of around 16 million workers by 2060 (as of May 2023). The main reason for this is the ageing population in Germany. Demographic change is unavoidable, which means that the number of young, employable people will continue to decline in the future.
By introducing the Skilled Immigration Act, the Federal Government has already taken the first steps to counteract this problem. However, bureaucratic hurdles prevent higher immigration levels for foreign skilled workers.
Basic requirements for the Opportunity Card
The purpose of the Opportunity Card is to make the Skilled Immigration Act significantly more lucrative. Qualified non-EU citizens who do not yet have a permanent employment contract in Germany can enter Germany based on a points system to look for work. Part-time work of up to 20 hours a week and two-week trial jobs are permitted. In order to receive the Opportunity Card, applicants from non-EU countries must prove they have completed at least two years of vocational training or have a university degree and sufficient knowledge of German (A1) or English (B2). Applicants should also be able to support themselves financially. The Opportunity Card brings enormous advantages for both applicants from abroad and employers in Germany.
Basic requirements for the Opportunity Card
- Larger applicant pool: The Opportunity Card offers access to a whole new pool of applicants. It also gives qualified applicants from non-EU countries the opportunity to enter Germany. Applicants do not need a fixed employment contract in advance, but can simply legitimise themselves using the associated points system. With the issuance of the Opportunity Card, applicants obtain a 12-month residence permit in Germany to look for a suitable job. If you offer an applicant trial work or part-time employment of up to 20 hours a week, your applicant’s chances of permanent residence in Germany increases. By changing to another residence title, which must be applied for at the local Foreigners’ Registration Office, you can also offer your applicant a full-time job in the future.
- Simple entry conditions facilitate entry into the workplace: The Opportunity Card offers potential workers from non-EU countries an easier way to enter the country than was previously the case. Complicated residence and employment applications are no longer necessary. Using the points system, applicants can easily and quickly prove that they meet the necessary requirements. They can apply via the local Foreigners’ Registration Office or at the competent German mission abroad in their country of origin. Skilled workers with a recognised training qualification receive the Opportunity Card immediately.
- No approval procedure by the Federal Employment Agency necessary: The application for the Opportunity Card is made via the competent German mission abroad in the country of origin or the local Foreigners’ Registration Office. An external examination by the Federal Employment Agency is not necessary. If the applicant meets all requirements, they will receive the Opportunity Card and a 12-month residence permit for Germany. And then the search for a suitable job can begin.
- Fast-track entry into the workplace through simple approval procedures: The Opportunity Card offers workers from non-EU countries a quick and easy chance of integrating in the German labour market. The facilitated entry procedure and guaranteed residence permit for up to one year ensure that the applicant can seek qualified employment with the prospect of long-term work. If the employment is successful, the employer and applicant can apply for a change to another residence title.
- Contracting for basic work: Foreign workers with an Opportunity Card can apply for basic or part-time jobs. Up to 20 hours per week are permitted, which can be calculated flexibly (e.g. more hours in the first week and fewer hours the following week). Employers can conclude a contract in this regard with prospective applicants exclusively before entry into the country. Concluding a contract in advance offers both sides additional security when it comes to starting the new job.
Your search profile for skilled workers
With the skilled labour pillar, skilled workers with a university degree or recognised vocational training can enter Germany to pursue qualified employment. The experience pillar is intended to make it easier for foreigners to enter Germany by not requiring a university degree but two years of professional experience. With the potential pillar, persons from third countries can prove their skills and knowledge via the points system for the Opportunity Card.
The basic requirement is (at least) two years of vocational training according to the rules of the country of origin as well as sufficient language skills (German A1 or English B2). To receive the Opportunity Card, you must have sufficient financial means. This is possible with a part-time job (up to 20 hours a week). Proof of this can be provided, for example, by means of an employment contract that you conclude before applying for an Opportunity Card. Please register for our newsletter, if you are interested in such a part-time job.
In the so-called experience pillar, you can enter Germany if you have a university degree or a two-year vocational qualification according to the rules of your country of origin. In addition, you need a permanent employment contract. As a foreign skilled worker, you can pursue any qualified occupation in Germany (in non-regulated professions). In the potential pillar, you can enter Germany via the points allocation system for the Opportunity Card.
The prerequisite for participating in the points system is a basic knowledge of German (A1) or English (B2). In addition, (at least) two years of vocational training according to the rules of the country of origin is required. To receive the Opportunity Card, you must have sufficient financial means. This is possible with a part-time job (up to 20 hours a week). Proof of this can be provided by means of an employment contract that you sign before applying for an Opportunity Card, for example. Please register for our newsletter if you are looking for such a part-time job.
In Germany, a skilled worker is someone who has vocational training recognised in Germany or a university degree. As a recognised skilled worker, you receive the Opportunity Card immediately (without a points system) and may also pursue qualified employment in the future. With a recognition partnership, you can have your professional qualification recognised retrospectively so that you can work in Germany immediately after entering the country.
With the so-called recognition partnership, the applicant’s recognition procedure only begins in Germany. The applicant’s qualifications are subsequently recognised by way of a recognition procedure. In return, applicants are allowed to pursue qualified employment in Germany from day one. The recognition partnership allows a so-called “post-qualification” with the help of a corresponding contract between employer and applicant. In a written agreement, both must state that they will carry out the procedure as soon as possible. Employers must be capable of providing training or post-qualification. Find out more information on this in our blog post.
As a foreign IT professional, you do not need to have a university degree or formal vocational training to obtain the “EU Blue Card”. Only “non-formal qualifications”, i.e. two years of professional experience (at academic level), must be proven by a certificate from the employer, for example. A fixed employment contract is required, stipulating a gross annual income of more than 40,000 euros. In the case of collective bargaining agreements, a lower income is also sufficient as proof.
With the Opportunity Card, you are allowed to carry out a part-time job of up to 20 hours a week. Working hours can be arranged flexibly. This regulation remains in force even if you complete a language course in Germany or study here. Participants on a language course therefore have another way of supplementing their living expenses. Stays in the form of a student exchange are excluded from this.
To receive the Opportunity Card, you must have sufficient financial means. Proof of this can be provided, for example, by means of an employment contract for such part-time employment, which you conclude before applying for an Opportunity Card. Please register for our newsletter if you are interested in such a part-time job.
An application to determine equivalence for non-regulated professions is a procedure that enables migrants to have their professional qualifications acquired abroad recognised in Germany. In particular, this refers to professions that are not protected by specific professional regulations or laws. Such an application can be made, for example, for professions such as journalist, IT professional or management consultant. The procedure for determining equivalence is carried out by the competent bodies in the respective German federal state and usually relates to the professional competence and training of the applicant. If equivalence is established, the applicant can use the qualifications in Germany and, if applicable, also obtain a work permit.
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.