Q & A Session with Dr. Hoffmann: Debunking Online Myths about the Opportunity Card!

Reliable and straight-forward advice:

Q: Can I apply for the Opportunity Card now?

A: Not yet! From June 1st 2024. Now is a good time to start preparing your documents. 

Q: I am watching YouTube videos and they are saying that an Opportunity Card in Germany is the same as a Green Card in the US. Is this correct?

A: No at all. Green Card in the USA is a form of permanent residency usually granted for 10 years. The Opportunity Card is rather similar to the Job Seekers Visa granted initially for 12 months.  With the Opportunity Card you will be granted residency once you are able to gain full employment in your trained occupation. Opportunity Card is a form of Visa and it looks like Visa. It is not a card. 

Q: What is the advantage of the Opportunity Card? How is it any different from the previous Job Seekers Visa?

A: Job Seeker Visa required education officially recognized in Germany and knowledge of German language (English was not taken in consideration), and it did not allow you to work part-time while you were searching for a job matching your qualifications. It was issued for 6 months only. The Opportunity Card will be issued for 12 months. The Opportunity Card is a Point Based System that allows you to collect points according with your qualifications, language skills, age etc. The Opportunity Card is definitely a more flexible system, with less requirements for applicants and with an option to earn money while looking for your job.  

Q: I don´t trust what people are saying on the internet. Where can I read applicable legal paragraphs regarding the Opportunity Card?

A: AufenthG § 20a, HOWEVER, it will come into force on 1.6.2024. People say on YouTube a lot of good stuff but they may also lack some information, mislead you or create some illusions. People who live in Germany have definitely more hands-on experience than advisers on other continents. Trust your instincts and those people who read (and understand!) immigration rules (have a look at current rules): Act on the Residence, Economic Activity and Integration of Foreigners in the Federal Territory¹ Residence Act (gesetze-im-internet.de)

Q: Is a job offer from Germany mandatory to apply for the Opportunity Card?

A: No. You may apply without a job offer. You can travel as a job seeker. 

Q: Do I need to speak German to apply for the Opportunity Card?

A: No. You will need to be able to prove English language proficiency. If you do not have at least B2 English, you need an A1 level German. 

Q: Do I have to show that I have funds to support myself?

A:  Yes, You have 3 options to evidence financial stability. First option is the amount of 12 324 euros (or 1027 euros per month) in a blocked account. It is not a fee and you do not pay this sum to anybody. There are some operational costs for running of an account depending on provider. You basically move your funds to Germany and you can use it there.

Second option is to find 20 hours per week employment in Germany, before your arrival and provide evidence (job offer or contract) to German immigration authorities in your country. This is challenging but with some networking you may be able to get a job offer. Rules do not specify what type of part-time job. 

Third option is for those who have family members in Germany and they are able to fully sponsor you and sign the declaration of commitment (“Verpflichtungserklärung”) according to Sec. 66 to 68.

Q: What occupations are most wanted in Germany?

A: Have a look at the latest list Engpassberufe_EN (make-it-in-germany.com). If you have education or vocational training in one of those occupations, you will get extra point in your application.

Q: Is the number of opportunity cards annually unlimited?

A: No, but it can be. The German government reserved the right to limit the number. 

Q: I heard that the Opportunity Card can be easily extended up to the next 2 years? Is this true?

A: It can be extended up to 2 years and it is called Folge-Chancenkarte.  I don’t think one can say “easily extended”. This is a process with some conditions. I would advise you to really focus on the 12 months granted and do everything to find the suitable employment to your qualifications. 

Q: Can I bring family members with me?

A: No, Opportunity Card does not allow that. Unless you are applying together with your spouse (as she or he also qualifies for an opportunity card). After receiving your residency in Germany, you may apply for visas for close family members. 

Q: Can I work with an Opportunity Card while I am searching for a job matching my education? 

A: Yes, up to 20 hours a week. Minimum hourly wage in Germany is 12 EURO per hour. It should be 15 EURO per hour at the end of 2024.

Q: What does it mean to be SKILLED WORKER? 

A: Have a look at immigration rules:  For the purposes of this Act, a skilled worker means a foreigner who

1.  has successfully completed quality vocational training in Germany or has a foreign quality vocational qualification which is equivalent to one acquired in Germany (skilled worker with vocational training qualification), or

2.  has a German university degree, a recognised foreign university degree or a foreign university degree comparable to a German one (skilled worker holding a university degree).

Q: Does the skilled worker have to use the Points Based System to get an Opportunity Card.

A: No. His / her visa should be granted if he or she meets skilled worker requirements, language and financial requirements.

Q: Can I use the Opportunity Card to work in another EU country?

A: No, this visa is specific for Germany.

Q: What are my chances to find employment within 12 months in Germany?

A: It is very hard to determine that because it depends on your qualifications and region of Germany. One of the statistics claimed that skilled workers have over 70% success rate in their job search in their first year in Germany. 

Q: What do I need to look for jobs?

A: Complete your documents: CV, motivational letter, scans of documents confirming your education / vocational training and references (my advice: have your diplomas translated to German). German law does not require you to add a photo, year of birth or marital status to your CV but some people voluntarily do that. It is up to you. Make your documents graphically attractive and easy to read. For example, you could do one PDF file with CV and diplomas and reference letters and write a separate motivation letter for each application. Many job advertisements specify what language they require.  If they ask for German, make sure you do exactly what they ask for. 

Q: Do I need to use the help of immigration lawyer, visa consultant or an agent helping in Germany?

A: No, you do not need to pay anyone to help you. You can apply for an Opportunity Card by yourself. You may sometimes but rarely find institutions or people in Germany that help you free of charge because they are sponsored by the government. 

You may look for following paid help if you wish:

  • Immigration lawyers will help you if you need legal representation or legal advice/ guidance. Recommended are German Law graduates operating in Germany (or with experience in Germany). 
  • Visa Consultants may help you with basic administration connected to application for the Opportunity Card or applying for residency once you arrive in Germany. They will not legally represent you and will not take responsibility for the outcome of your case. It is best to choose consultants with German language skills and with experience in dealing with German bureaucracy. 
  • Relocation and Global Mobility Consultants may also provide services that include international HR, looking for accommodation and moving your goods.
  • Headhunters and Employment Agencies can help you with job search in Germany (many will charge only potential employers and not job seekers). 
  • Real estate agents may help you to rent or buy a place to live (for renting assistance you can be charged). 
  • Insurance agents will provide you with appropriate insurance packages (you should only pay for insurance and not for their services).
  • Cultural coaches and therapists may help you to overcome cultural differences and struggles connected to adaptation to different mentality, way of life and environment (usually paid by hour).

Q: I do not qualify as a Skilled Worker; how do I calculate my points in the Points Based System?

A: Calculate your points based on chart below:

Criteria 4 points3 points2 points 1 point
Qualifications (education, vocational training or professional license)Qualification with a need for: •Adaptation measures;  •Compensatory measures;  • Identification of the equivalence;  • Professional license in  regulated profession,
German language skillsLevel B2Level B1Level A2 – 1 point
English language skills Level C1 – 1 point
Professional experience (in the context  with the professional qualification)Professional qualifications or university degree + at least 5 years of relevant professional experience within last 7 yearsProfessional qualifications or university degree + at least 2 years of relevant professional experience within last 5 years
Bottleneck occupation 1 point Engpassberufe_EN (make-it-in-germany.com)
AgeLess than 35 years oldBetween 35-40 years old
Uninterrupted, lawful residence of 6 months in Germany within last 5 years 1 point
Applying with spouse who meets criteria for the opportunity card1 point 

Source: Bundesgesetzblatt Teil I – Gesetz zur Weiterentwicklung der Fachkräfteeinwanderung – Bundesgesetzblatt

Q: How can you help me?

A: Our services are paid for, upfront and non-refundable. You will receive an invoice. You can book single consultation or consultation packages with me or other freelance consultant. We will guide and mentor you through procedures of German administration. We can also guide you through the labor market and job search in Germany. We are based in Germany and we have extensive experience on the ground. We are also educated here and trained with local rules. We are honest and upfront with your prospects here, and we manage false expectations. We care very much for our client’s success in their plans and future endeavors. We are educated in administrative rules (and not myths) and go by these rules, exactly as it is expected, here in Germany.