How to apply for an Opportunity Card Extension

The Opportunity Card provides foreign skilled workers from non-EU countries with a one-year German residence permit. During this time, the focus should be on finding a qualified part-time job (up to 20 hours a week) or a two-week trial job.

If the applicant successfully secures a permanent job during this time, i.e. there is a concrete job offer or a binding employment contract, they have the possibility of obtaining permanent residence in Germany. To do this, an application must be made for a work permit in accordance with Section 4 §§ 18 to 21 of the Residence Act.

If the requirements for issuing another residence permit in accordance with Section 4 of the Residence Act are met, an Opportunity Card Extension CANNOT be issued. This means that if the holder of an Opportunity Card has already applied for or been granted another residence title for Germany, no further application for an Opportunity Card Extension may be made.

Requirements for a long-term residence title for employment in Germany:

  • Job offer or binding employment contract
  • Approval from the Federal Employment Agency
  • If applicable: Issuance of a professional practice permit
  • After the age of 45, the salary must correspond to at least 55% of the annual contribution assessment ceiling in the state pension insurance scheme (unless the foreign national can provide evidence of an alternative pension scheme).

Quote § 19c Section 1: “A foreign national may be granted a residence permit for employment, irrespective of qualification as a skilled worker, if employment regulations or an intergovernmental agreement stipulates that the foreign national may be authorised to take up this employment.”

This also applies to gaining practical work experience. If the foreign national is employed as a civil servant, the Federal Employment Agency does NOT expressly have to approve a residence permit.

Residence permits for Opportunity Card holders available in accordance with Section 4 of the Residence Act:

  1. Residence permit for skilled workers with vocational training
  • For carrying out qualified employment


  1. Residence permit for skilled workers with an academic qualification
  • Via the EU Blue Card
  1. ICT Card (for an internal company transfer)
  • If the foreign national works in a domestic company as a specialist or manager
  • If the foreign national has been working for the company for six months
  • If the transfer in the company takes longer than 90 days
  • If the foreign national completes a trainee program and holds a university degree
  • If the foreign national provides proof of a professional qualification
  1. Residence permit for other purposes
  • Irrespective of qualifications as a skilled worker, provided that employment regulations stipulate that the foreign national is authorised to carry out the employment or that an intergovernmental agreement exists for carrying out the employment
  1. Residence permit for civil servants
  • In this case, approval from the Federal Employment Agency is not required
  1. Residence permit for qualified tolerated persons to seek employment
  • If the foreign national has completed qualified vocational training in a state-recognised occupation (or in a comparable regulated occupation that requires training) or has completed a university degree
  • If the foreign national has been in qualified employment for three years without interruption
  • If the foreign national has a university degree and has been employed for two years in a position commensurate with the degree
  • In addition, the foreign national must have sufficient language skills and adequate living space
  1. Residence permit for participants in the European Solidarity Corps
  • The Federal Employment Agency must give its consent (unless there is an intergovernmental agreement or employment regulations permit participation without the consent of the Federal Employment Agency)
  1. Residence permit for self-employed work
  • If there is an economic interest or a regional need
  • If the activity will have a positive impact on the economy
  • If the foreign national can finance the transfer themselves or has a loan commitment

If the Opportunity Card holder does not obtain one of these residence titles despite a job offer, they can apply for an Opportunity Card Extension. This extends the period of residence by up to two years, enabling the applicant to fulfil the missing criteria for a longer-term residence title in Germany. This might refer to a required salary level or a lack of professional experience, for example.

If you are unable to find a suitable job with the Opportunity Card and are therefore not allowed to apply for an Opportunity Card Extension, you must leave Germany again after the one-year residence period. A new Search Opportunity Card can only be issued if the foreign national has spent at least as much time abroad or in Germany after the expiration of the last Search Opportunity Card’s validity period. This duration must be equivalent to the time they previously stayed in Germany while holding a Search Opportunity Card.

Opportunity Card requirements

Before you can officially apply for an Opportunity Card Extension, you must have applied for and been granted a regular Opportunity Card. All foreign workers from third countries who achieve at least six points in the points allocation system receive the Opportunity Card. You can easily find out how many points you have using our points calculator. The basic requirements for a successful Opportunity Card application in Germany are:

  • Proof of language proficiency in German (A1) or English (B2)
  • Proof of (at least) two years of vocational training or a university degree according to the rules of your country of origin
  • Proof of sufficient financial means to cover your living expenses (With a part-time job, as permitted under the Opportunity Card, you can finance your own living costs in Germany without any problems. This proof of your financial independence is sufficient to apply for the Opportunity Card.)

The purpose of the Opportunity Card is to make it much easier for foreign skilled workers to move to Germany in the future. Full recognition of vocational training is no longer necessary. Lengthy and complicated approval procedures should no longer be necessary with the Opportunity Card.

If you can prove that you have completed at least two years of training in a specific occupation in accordance with the rules of your country of origin, you will be allowed to work in this occupation in Germany with the Opportunity Card. You do NOT need a permanent job offer or an employment contract to apply for the Opportunity Card. You may look for a job yourself after entering the country within the one-year residence period.

How to Apply for an Opportunity Card Extension

If you want to apply for an Opportunity Card Extension (due to missing criteria for an employment title), you must provide proof of a job offer or binding employment contract to the responsible immigration authority. The Federal Employment Agency must also approve your application for the Opportunity Card Extension. You can apply for the Opportunity Card Extension at the local Foreigners’ Registration Office.

Make sure you have the key documents with you. These include: Passport, diplomas, language certificates, a written agreement with your future employer or an employment contract as well as your Search Opportunity Card.

If you would like to apply for the Opportunity Card and want to find a suitable job quickly, register now for Opportunity Card Jobs! This is a job platform that connects Opportunity Card applicants with potential employers. Register on our platform today and never miss a job offer again!

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