BREAKING: Germany Announces “Opportunity Card” For Job Seekers Outside EU

The German Parliament, on Friday (June 23rd, 2023) announced a change in their immigration laws allowing non-EU immigrants without jobs to come to Germany and be given a year to find employment.

The Bundestag signed the bill to open up new opportunities for job seekers from countries outside the EU, including Nigeria on Friday (June 23). This is designed to encourage more people from outside the European Union to come to Germany for work.

“This draft law secures prosperity in Germany,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) said as she presented the government’s plan in the chamber in the morning, though she added that it would only work if the bureaucratic hurdles were dismantled during its implementation.

“It’s unacceptable that you have to fill in 17 different applications to bring a new care worker into the country,” she said.

About the new Opportunity Card:

A major new innovation under the law is a new “opportunity card” and its associated points system, which allows foreigners who don’t yet have a job lined up to come to Germany for a year to find employment.

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A prerequisite for receiving a card will be a vocational qualification or university degree.

The cards will be awarded to those who fulfill a certain number of conditions, for which they will be awarded points: These could be German and/or English language skills, existing ties to Germany, and the potential of accompanying life partners or spouses on the German labor market.

The opportunity card will also permit casual work for up to 20 hours a week while looking for a qualified job, as well as probationary employment.

Integrating refugees

Those who are awaiting asylum approval, and got their application in by March 29, 2023, have the appropriate qualifications, and a job offer and will also be permitted to join the labor market. This would also allow them to enter vocational training.

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A similar change holds for those here on a tourist visa. They will not be required to first leave the country, before returning in an employment context.

Recognition of degrees

A major obstacle to immigration has long been the requirement to have degrees recognized in Germany.

In the future, skilled immigrants will no longer have to have their degrees recognized in Germany if they can show they have at least two years of professional experience and a degree that is state-recognized in their country of origin. Someone who already has a job offer can already come to Germany and start working while their degree is still being recognized.

What skilled workers does Germany really need?

Germany’s shortage of skilled workers is most pronounced in health, social care, nursing, engineering, and education, according to the KOFA study. In these fields, an average of 60 percent of roles lack suitably qualified applicants.

One the skills without a degree needed is Train drivers and people who control and monitor traffic (Traffic Warder) on the rails are currently being sought.

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Additionally, the lack of education workers, social workers, and preschool teachers also bedeviled the country. However, the biggest hole is for the elderly and nursing care workers.

In other areas, such as the metal and electrical trades, there is not only a lack of skilled workers there is also a need for more experts and people with university degrees.

How to Qualify for an Opportunity Card Visa

The points-based system will take into account qualifications, professional experience, age, German language skills, and ties to Germany.

Every year, quotas will be set depending on which industries need workers. Three out of four of the following criteria must also be met to apply for the scheme:

  • A degree or vocational training
  • Three years of professional experience
  • Language skills or a previous stay in Germany
  • 35 years old or younger

Currently, most non-EU citizens need to have a job offer before they can relocate to Germany. A visa for job seekers already exists, but the ‘chancenkarte’ is expected to make it easier and faster for people looking to find work in Germany.

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