Finding qualified employment in Germany with the Opportunity Card

If you apply for an Opportunity Card, you can search for qualified trial work or a part-time job of up to 20 hours a week in Germany. You do not need a university degree or an existing job offer for this. Important: You must be able to finance your stay in Germany yourself. This can be easily achieved with a part-time job under the Opportunity Card.

You can enter Germany with the Opportunity Card if you achieve at least six points in the points allocation system or if you have a qualification recognised in Germany. The duration of your stay with an Opportunity Card is limited to one year. This means that you must secure qualified employment during this time to apply for an Opportunity Card Extension and reside in Germany permanently.

How to obtain an Opportunity Card Extension

The Opportunity Card Extension is issued to individuals who already possess an Opportunity Card and can present an employment contract or binding job offer for qualified employment. The Federal Employment Agency must also approve the application for an Opportunity Card Extension. The purpose of the Opportunity Card Extension is to help applicants who have found a job within the one-year residence period but do not fully meet the necessary requirements for a job title. This may relate to both work experience and the salary threshold. The Opportunity Card Extension can be used to extend the original period of residence from one year to up to two years.

Definition of “qualified employment”

As per the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Home Affairs (BMI), qualified employment is described as follows:

“According to Section 2 (12b) of the Residence Act, qualified employment is considered legitimate if the skills, knowledge and abilities required to perform it are acquired during a course of study or qualified vocational training. Qualified vocational training is considered valid in accordance with Section 2 (12a) of the Residence Act if it is vocational training in a state-recognised or similarly regulated training occupation for which a training period of at least two years is specified under federal or state law.”

In simpler terms: Qualified employment is based on vocational training that is recognised by the state and lasts for at least two years. The BMI does not specify an income limit. In the future, it should be easier for foreign workers who have such vocational qualifications to secure qualified employment in Germany. This particularly applies to foreigner workers from non-EU countries. Due to the increasing shortage of skilled labour, Germany relies on workers from both EU and non-EU countries.

Opportunity Card for foreign workers in Germany

With the newly introduced Opportunity Card, skilled foreign workers from non-EU countries can enter Germany to seek qualified employment locally. A university degree is not a prerequisite. With the Opportunity Card, foreign applicants can work part-time for up to 20 hours a week or undertake two-week work trials. The residence permit for Germany with an Opportunity Card is valid for one year. If the applicant secures a suitable job during this time, they can apply for an Opportunity Card Extension.

Specific conditions must be met to apply for the Opportunity Card. These include at least two years of vocational training in accordance with the rules of the country of origin, sufficient financial resources for a secure livelihood and language skills at German (A1) or English (B2) level. You can apply for the Opportunity Card at the relevant German mission in your country of origin or at the competent Foreigners’ Registration Office. The latter is only possible if you already have a German residence permit. If you have a qualification recognised in Germany, you will receive the Opportunity Card directly. The same applies if you achieve a total of six points in the points allocation system.

Example of qualified employment

If you live in a non-EU country, have a state-recognised professional qualification (e.g. as a baker, tradesman etc.) in your country of origin and wish to find a job in Germany, contact the German Embassy or German Consulate in your country of origin and apply for an Opportunity Card. You will receive further information on the documents and proof you need to submit. Have essential documents such as your passport, diplomas, certificates and bank statements ready. It is advantageous to have your documents notarised and translated. IMPORTANT: Make sure that you meet the conditions for the Opportunity Card when submitting an application. These conditions include:

  1. State-recognised professional qualification in the country of origin
  2. Language skills at German (A1) or English (B2) level
  3. Sufficient financial means to secure your livelihood in Germany

Once the competent authority in Germany (probably the Central Office for Foreign Education, ZAB) has thoroughly reviewed your documents and aligned them with the points system, you will receive the Opportunity Card. This includes a one-year residence permit in Germany. You may be able to upload the documents yourself via a dedicated online platform. Full details are not yet available. If you receive an Opportunity Card, you can search for qualified employment locally. This means that you can look for a job (e.g. as a baker, tradesman etc.) you are already qualified for due to your training qualification.

If you have already lived in Germany for a certain period of time, you can also submit evidence (tenancy agreements, employment contracts etc.) to the competent authority. Applicants from third countries can apply for the Opportunity Card from 1 June 2024.

Working in Germany without a lengthy recognition procedure

If you are already in contact with an employer in Germany, you can enter Germany via the so-called recognition partnership. Your qualification will be recognised only in Germany, allowing you to pursue qualified employment without complications. Based on a written agreement drawn up together with your future employer, you can enter and work in Germany without a lengthy recognition procedure.

If you are seeking a suitable job and wish to apply for the Opportunity Card, register now for Opportunity Card Jobs! This is a job platform that connects Opportunity Card candidates with potential employers. Register now to receive regular updates on the latest developments and be among the first to access the platform.

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