Proof of training in Germany – What you need to know

Applicants for the Opportunity Card must provide evidence of at least two years’ training that is recognised by the state in their country of origin. How does this evidence work and which authority do interested applicants need to contact?

According to the German Federal Ministry of the Interior and Home Affairs (BMI), the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) will be responsible for this task. The ZAB currently assesses foreign qualifications in Germany and verifies foreign school-leaving certificates, university degrees and other professional qualifications. Detailed information on the extent of the ZAB’s certificate verification process is not yet available. The Central Office for Foreign Education will provide more information on its website after the introduction of the Opportunity Card on 1 June 2024.

How applicants can prepare for the Opportunity Card

Workers from non-EU countries can prepare their Opportunity Card application now. The better prepared you are, the faster the recognition process for your professional experience will be – and the quicker you will be able to find a job in Germany. To ensure that you are well prepared for the Opportunity Card application process, we have created a basic guide that applicants can use for orientation.

  1. Complete an apprenticeship in your home country if you do not yet have a vocational qualification. Opportunity Card applicants must be able to prove that they have completed at least two years of vocational training in accordance with the rules of their country of origin.
  2. If you have no language skills in German (A1) or English (B2), we recommend that you attend a language course before applying for the Opportunity Card.
  3. Obtain all the necessary documents for the application.
    These includes ID cards or passports, certificates, diplomas, CVs and other written documents such as bank statements and certificates of your language skills.
  4. Have important documents notarised and translated into German or English.
  5. Fees may be charged for verifying your qualification. Find out in advance from the relevant authority about any potential costs.
  6. Apply for the Opportunity Card at the competent German mission in your country of origin (German Embassy or Consulate). This will be possible from 1 June 2024. It may also be possible to apply for the Opportunity Card via a dedicated online platform. This will enable you to upload your own documents (certificates, language certificates and attestations).
  7. Please note the requirements for a successful application for the Opportunity Card:
    • Proof of language skills in German (A1) or English (B2)
    • (At least) two years of vocational training or a university degree
    • Proof of sufficient financial means to cover living expenses
      (This can be done via a blocked account at a German bank, for example. A certain amount of money is deposited, which may only be withdrawn after an agreed period of time).
    • Employment of up to 20 hours a week, as allowed within the framework of the Opportunity Card, also counts as proof of financial security.
  1. To have your professional qualification recognised, please contact the relevant authority (ZAB). You can reach the Central Office for Foreign Education by phone on +49 (0) 228 501 664 or via e-mail – zabservice@kmk.org. Alternatively, you can submit a request via a contact form on the ZAB website. Once your documents have been verified and no documents are missing, you can submit a visa application to the German embassy in your home country for entry into Germany.

 Sample template for an enquiry to the ZAB (e-mail)

 

Dear Sir or Madam,

 

I would like to apply for an Opportunity Card and need an official confirmation from the ZAB for my vocational training, which is recognised according to the rules of my country of origin [Insert the name of your country of origin here, e.g. Nigeria]. Please find the necessary documents attached. [Attach (notarised) copies of your passport, diplomas and other certificates].
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.

 

Yours faithfully,

 [insert name]

  1. Further tests
    You may have to submit missing tests after your documents have been assessed by the authority (ZAB). Please be prepared for this.
  2. If you receive the Opportunity Card, you will receive a one-year residence permit for Germany. During this time, you will need a fixed address. Inquire in good time about accommodation offers in Germany. If you do not find a qualified job after one year, you will almost certainly have to leave Germany again. If you have found a qualified job, you can apply for the Opportunity Card Extension.

How to find qualified employment

Example: If you are a trained salesperson from a non-EU country, you can have your vocational qualification recognised by the ZAB and look for a job as a salesperson in Germany. To do this, your professional skills must largely correspond to German training points. This is exactly what the ZAB checks. If you fulfil the requirements for the Opportunity Card, you will receive a right of residence for one year. During this period, you may look for a suitable job locally. This means that you do not have to present a job offer from Germany in order to apply for the Opportunity Card.

Please note: Once you have received your Opportunity Card, you are only allowed to work part-time for up to 20 hours a week – or take (an unlimited number of) two-week trial jobs. With such a part-time job you will have sufficient financial means, which is a prerequisite for your stay in Germany. If you wish to pursue full-time employment via the Opportunity Card and stay longer in Germany, you must apply for an extended residence permit at the relevant immigration authority. The prospects for a longer stay in Germany with a successful job search using the Opportunity Card are likely to be very good.

Conclusion

The aim of the German Government is to selectively recruit foreign workers from non-EU countries with the Opportunity Card and to provide them with long-term prospects for staying in Germany. This involves a straightforward recognition procedure and uncomplicated entry procedures. Opportunity Card holders can also enter Germany without the need for recognition if they attain a sufficient number of points in the Opportunity Card’s points allocation system. If they secure a job in their respective field in Germany, the professional experience gained will contribute towards the full recognition of their professional qualifications. Before applying for the Opportunity Card, it is important to be well-informed about requirements and criteria.

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