In a recent development, the German government unveiled the concept of the “Chancenkarte,” a term that translates to the “Opportunity Card.” This innovative approach is set to become effective on March 1st, 2024, as part of a new Immigration Law in Germany. The law encompasses the approval of the Opportunity Card, and a draft bill outlining its provisions has been made available on the official government website.
The Opportunity Card serves as a commendable initiative by the German government to address the escalating demand for skilled labor within the country. By attracting skilled professionals from across the globe, Germany aims to bolster its workforce and meet the challenges posed by its growing economy. This strategic move is poised to bring in a pool of talented individuals, fostering a diverse and enriched work environment that will contribute significantly to the nation’s progress.
According to a recent survey, Germany is lacking approximately 400,000 skilled laborers every year.
The opportunity card could come as a savior that can bridge the gap of demand and supply of the skilled workforce in Germany.
What is an Opportunity card?
An opportunity card is a new regulated way of attracting skilled workers from non-EU countries to Germany.
Back in September 2022, The German government announced the plan to launch a new way of attracting international talents to Germany and coined the term Opportunity card (Chancenkarte).
When can you start applying?
The opportunity card is a new type of visa that is yet to be implemented.
You can expect to have this publicly available by late 2023. As per the latest news, the opportunity card and other new immigration laws will be applicable effective March 2024.
Eligibility criteria for an opportunity card
To be eligible for the opportunity card in Germany, you must satisfy three of the following four conditions:
- Age: You should be under 35 years.
- Qualifications: A university degree or professionally qualified.
- Experience: You should hold at least 3 years of work experience.
- Language: Either German language or previous residency in Germany is required.
At least 3 of the 4 conditions should be met in order to be eligible for the opportunity card.
The more conditions you satisfy, the better chances you have.
Also, as this new type of visa is yet to be implemented, there is no full clarity around the exact eligibility criteria and how the points will be calculated.
With the new immigration law in Germany, the Opportunity card has got some additional criterias and it is now also possible to extend the validity of the opportunity card for upto 2 years.
Benefits of opportunity card for Germany
The introduction of the opportunity card is expected to enhance Germany’s ability to attract skilled foreign labor. Typically, German companies show a preference for candidates already living in Germany or within the European Union.
With the opportunity card in place, highly skilled professionals keen on working in Germany can relocate to the country, even without a job offer at hand.
This concept aligns closely with the existing Jobseeker visa; however, it’s essential to explore the precise distinctions between the opportunity card and the jobseeker visa for a comprehensive understanding. Read on to delve into the details of these two immigration pathways.
Drawbacks of the German opportunity card
Some of the shortcomings of the opportunity card are:
- There will be an upper limit on how many opportunity cards will be allocated in a year. It basically means that there will be more applicants and less number of visas available each year under this category.
- Not everyone is eligible for a visa under this scheme. You will be eligible only if you meet certain eligibility criteria as listed previously.
- It might lead to additional verifications and bureaucracy leading to longer wait times for visa approval.
- If you are an IT professional, you can usually get an English-speaking job in Germany. But, the eligibility criteria of the opportunity card will force you to learn German even if you might not need German proficiency in your job.
- The age limit of 35 years is also a bit harsh criteria in my opinion.
Opportunity card vrs Employment visa
Let’s see how an opportunity card differs from an employment visa for Germany.
|Opportunity card||Employment visa|
|This is a type of visa that is yet to be implemented.||The employment visa is an already existing type of visa.|
|An opportunity card is similar to a JobSeeker visa that you apply for when you do not have a job offer from Germany.||The employment visa is applied when you already have a job offer/contract from Germany.|
|You must satisfy the eligibility criteria to apply for the opportunity card.||To apply for the employment visa, you just need to have a job offer from Germany and a valid degree certificate recognized by Germany.|
|There is a limit to how many opportunity cards will be allotted each year.||There is theoretically no limit on the number of employment visas that can be allotted each year.|
|Knowledge of the German language will improve your chances of getting this visa.||German language proficiency is not required to get an employment visa.|
On a high level, an Employment visa is applied when you already have a job offer from Germany, and the opportunity card visa is applied when you want to go to Germany and search for a job.
Opportunity card vrs Blue card
A blue card is an already existing visa type that is given to highly qualified professionals who earn a minimum salary in Europe. Below are the major differences between an opportunity card and a blue card:
|Opportunity card||Blue card|
|This visa type will apply when you wish to travel to Germany and search for a job there.||A Blue card is a type of visa/residence permit that you get only after you secure a job in Germany / Europe.|
|Opportunity card is valid only within Germany.||A Blue card is valid throughout Europe.|
|The opportunity card is applied when you are still in your home country. E.g: India||An actual blue card is applied once you are in Germany on your Employment visa.|
|There is no requirement for a minimum salary to apply for this visa.||Blue card comes with a minimum salary requirement.|
|Prior stay in Germany or the knowledge of the German language will help in getting this visa.||Prior stay in Germany or knowledge of the German language is usually not required for the Blue card application.|
Opportunity card vrs Jobseeker visa
Both the opportunity card and the jobseeker visa gives you the ability to travel to Germany without a job offer. Below are some of the major differences between the two types of visa:
|Opportunity card||Jobseeker visa|
|This is yet to be implemented.||Jobseeker visa is an existing type of visa.|
|German language proficiency might be needed to apply for this visa (depending on your eligibility criteria)||German language proficiency is not required for this visa.|
|An Opportunity card gives you 12 months’ time to search for a job in Germany. Under certain circumstances, an opportunity card can be extended for up to 2 more years.||An opportunity card can be granted to degree holders and professionals with a minimum of 3 years of experience.|
|An opportunity card can be granted to degree holders and professionals with a minimum 3 years of experience.||A jobseeker visa is usually granted to highly skilled professionals with a work experience of 5 years or more.|
|There will be a limit on how many opportunity cards are allotted each year.||There is theoretically no age restriction to apply for a jobseeker visa.|
|You don’t have to show positive responses from employers before applying for this visa.||You need to show positive responses from employers in Germany while applying for a JSV.|
|There is no clarity around the bank balance requirement to apply for this visa.||You need to maintain an average balance of at least USD 7500 in your bank account.|
|There is a limit to how many opportunity cards will be allotted each year.||There is no official information about how many jobseeker visa can be allotted each year.|
|The opportunity card allows you to work and earn a side income (up to 30 hours/week) until you get a full-time job contract.||The jobseeker visa doesn’t allow the visa holder to work part-time.|
The opportunity card represents a commendable initiative by the German government.
Further details regarding the eligibility criteria and application process for this visa are forthcoming, which will allow for a more comprehensive discussion on this matter.
Once the clarity and procedures are established, the advantages of this novel visa will become apparent.
This development is undoubtedly welcome news for individuals aspiring to migrate and work in Europe’s largest economy, Germany.
With an array of visa options available, the likelihood of acceptance for suitable candidates increases.
Let us observe and await the progress of this new visa through its approval stages, anticipating its availability to numerous skilled job seekers. We anticipate gaining more insights by the end of 2023.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.