July 10, 2024

New Opportunity Card for Skilled Workers in Germany


Germany has launched the Opportunity Card. As part of the Skilled Immigration Act, the Opportunity Card simplifies the process for skilled workers from non-EU countries to enter Germany and seek employment, even without a permanent job offer.

The Opportunity Card utilises a points-based system, similar to that in Australia, considering factors such as qualifications, work experience, language skills, and connections to Germany. Candidates must secure at least six points to qualify. Basic requirements include two years of vocational training or a university degree, and language proficiency in German (A1) or English (B2).


What has changed?

The Opportunity Card program will become operational from 1st June. This new program is a significant shift from previous requirements, offering a streamlined and flexible approach for skilled non-EU nationals to find employment in Germany.

What to expect /impact?

Applicants can apply either at the Foreigners’ Registration Office in Germany or at the competent German mission abroad. Eligibility will be based on recognised professional or academic qualifications or scoring at least six points on the points system. Points are awarded based on education, work experience, language proficiency, age, ties to Germany, and whether the applicant's spouse is also eligible, using the below breakdown:

  • Education: Up to 4 points for recognized qualifications and work experience.
  • Language Skills: Up to 3 points for German proficiency and 1 bonus point for advanced English.
  • Age: Up to 2 points for applicants under 35.
  • Ties to Germany: 1 point for prior stays in Germany.
  • Spouse: 1 point if the spouse is also applying.

The Opportunity Card represents a major opportunity for skilled workers and employers alike. For skilled foreign nationals, this means easier access to Germany's job market, the ability to work part-time immediately upon arrival, and a clear path to permanent residency. Employers will benefit from a larger pool of skilled talent, addressing critical labour shortages in various industries. Specific benefits include:

  • Easier entry without a permanent job offer, simplifying the initial immigration process for skilled workers.
  • One-year residence permit, extendable for up to two additional years offering stability and the opportunity to find long-term employment.
  • Immediate work permit for up to 20 hours per week enabling job seekers to support themselves financially while searching for full-time employment.

Prospects for permanent residence providing a clear pathway to settle in Germany permanently after securing a job.

What you need to do

The Opportunity Card will undoubtedly aid employers hire talent within Germany. Employers should familiarise themselves with the cards requirements to ensure that it is being considered as a possible recruitment tool.

For further information on these developments, please contact the Sterling Lexicon immigration team at immigration@sterlinglexicon.com.


Leanne Cottrell

Leanne Cottrell

As Head of Immigration with Sterling Lexicon, Leanne leads a team of specialists who are responsible for ensuring the entire immigration process is smooth and stress-free for clients, assignees and their accompanying family members. She brings over fifteen years of experience in strategic immigration management, planning and consultation to her role, and has cultivated invaluable knowledge and experience in processing countless global migration applications. As a trusted partner, she consults with clients on everything from policy considerations and cost or efficiency improvements, to the impact of opening offices in new locations. Leanne is a frequent presenter and author on global immigration topics and trends, and currently serves as a member of the Worldwide ERC (WERC) Immigration Advisory Council.

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