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Chancenkarte: How many points could you get on Germany’s planned skilled worker visa?

Under plans passed by the cabinet on Thursday, non-EU citizens will in future be able to apply for a special permit to look for a job in Germany - provided they score enough 'points' on things like language skills and qualifications. Here's how many points you could get.

Job applicant skilled workers Germany
A job applicant searches for jobs on the internet. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

What’s going on?

After months of hype, Germany’s new Skilled Workers Immigration Act is finally on its way. On Thursday, the cabinet passed a draft of the law, paving the way for it to be voted on in parliament. 

Alongside simplified routes for skilled workers to enter the country and incentives for Blue Card holders, the government wants to launch a new jobseekers’ visa aimed at qualified professions.

The Chancenkarte – or Opportunity Card – will be primarily based on a points-based system. It will allow foreign workers to enter the country and work for up to 20 hours a week while they look for a job in their field. It can be granted for up to a year but can’t be extended if the job hunt is unsuccessful. 

READ ALSO: German government signs off on sweeping reforms for skilled worker visas

How many points do I need?

To be eligible for an Opportunity Card, you’ll need to score at least six points out of 14. Your constellation of points will depend on your life situation, but there are some criteria everyone has to fulfil before they can apply.

To be in with a chance of getting a Chancenkarte via the points-based system, you need: 

  • At least sufficient German (i.e. B1 level) or fluent English (C1) 
  • Proof that you can support yourself financially, and
  • A professional qualification or degree that required at least two years of training or study

Age: Up to 2 points

It may sound ageist, but how young you are – and, by extension, how many years you’ll continue to work – can count towards your Opportunity Card application. 

If you’re lucky enough to be under the age of 35, you can net a full two points towards your application. If you’re under the age of 40 but over 35 you can score one point towards it. 

Language skills: Up to 3 points

If you already speak a bit of German, you should be able to score either two or three points towards your Opportunity Card.

According to the draft law, people with “good” German skills get three points, while people with “sufficient” skills get two.

So, what do good and sufficient really mean?

Well, while this isn’t detailed in the draft, it’s worth noting that elsewhere in German immigration law B1 is described as “sufficient”. That would mean that you would likely get two points for B1 and three for B2 or above. 

READ ALSO: How to apply for Germany’s new ‘Chancenkarte’ and other visas for job seekers

German dictionaries in a language school.

German dictionaries in a language school. Good knowledge of German can net applicants up to three points. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Marcel Kusch

Qualifications and experience: Up to 7 points 

If you’ve completed a professional qualification that’s considered equivalent to a German qualification – for example, a degree or training to obtain a licence to practice – you could net four points.

This can increase by three points if you’ve practiced in a field relevant to your qualification for at least three years out of the last seven. 

Connection to Germany: Up to 2 points

Having a link to Germany of some sort can net you either one or two points towards your application, depending on how many of the criteria you fulfil.

The first way to prove a link to the country is to provide evidence that you lived here for at least six consecutive months in the past five years. You can earn one point for this.

The second is to get a sponsor to write a letter promising to assist you in your job search and integration into the labour market. This should be an individual rather than a company and they should have resided in Germany for at least five years. It’s important to note that they shouldn’t have provided a letter like this for anyone else. This sponsorship will net you one point.

READ ALSO: Will immigration reform be enough to combat Germany’s worker shortage?

What else should I know? 

There is another route to getting hold of an Opportunity Card: being what’s known as a ‘skilled worker’. 

It’s not entirely clear what the government’s definition of a skilled worker is, but generally you would have completed a qualification that’s required in your field and accrued a certain amount of professional experience. 

It’s also worth noting that, in some cases, you’ll be able to apply for an Opportunity Card even if you live in Germany – but this will depend what kind of visa you are currently on and whether you fulfil the above requirements. 

READ ALSO: COMPARED: Germany’s Chancenkarte vs. Austria’s Red-White-Red card for skilled non-EU workers

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How Germany is partnering with Brazil to recruit more skilled workers

Germany needs more care workers - and in Brazil, one in ten care workers is unemployed. With this in mind, German Labour Minister Heil and Brazilian Labour Minister Luiz Marinho signed a declaration of intent for "fair immigration" to promote the exchange of skilled workers.

How Germany is partnering with Brazil to recruit more skilled workers

As part of an effort to attract more skilled workers from non-EU countries to the German labour market, Germany and Brazil signed a declaration of intent for “fair immigration” on Monday. 

“I am pleased that we will intensify the partnership between Brazil and the Germany in the future,” said Heil.

Heil, who is travelling through South America for several days with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, signed the declaration together with Marinho in Brazil’s capital of Brasilia. 

The aim is to “create fair and simplified structures to promote the mutual exchange of skilled workers”, it stated.

The main focus is on nursing, a field in which Germany faces a growing shortage. According to the German Hospital Association, there were around 14,000 vacant positions for nursing staff in clinics around Germany in 2021, with an additional 8.000 vacancies in intensive care units.

Currently, “more opportunities are being created in Brazil to train future caregivers especially for the German labour market”, he said. 

READ ALSO: REVEALED: The German industries most desperate for skilled workers

Part of larger push to recruit skilled workers

It is “important to him that everyone benefits when it comes to the immigration of skilled workers”, Heil explained. 

According to the professional association Cofen, there are 2.5 million nurses in Brazil. But the unemployment rate in the sector hovered above 10 percent in 2021.

The recruitment of Brazilian skilled workers is part of a larger push to issue significantly more visas for foreign workers in the future. Last year, barely 100,000 skilled workers from non-EU countries came to Germany. “That is not enough,” Baerbock and Heil wrote in a statement.

The government therefore wants to reduce bureaucracy and make it easier for the families of skilled workers to join them. In order to do this, Germany’s Office for Foreign Affairs “will process four times as many visas for skilled workers by the end of 2024 as it does now”.

Brazil is the only country in the region that Germany has had a strategic partnership with since 2008. South America’s largest country is also Germany’s most important trading partner in the region. 

According to Heil, there are currently up to 200 Brazilian nursing staff working in Germany.

READ ALSO: ‘We’ve made a community’: Who are the Brazilians in Germany and where do they live?

‘Sensitive issue’

Heil called the recruitment of nurses a “sensitive issue”. According to the rules of the World Health Organisation (WHO), countries with too few nursing staff should not be deprived of them. 

However, he said, if we cooperate better and establish fair rules, “including for fair migration, then it is in our mutual interest”. 

In the past, there were far too bureaucratic procedures and off-putting immigration laws, he added.


Fair immigration – (die) faire Einwanderung

Exchange of skilled workers – (der) Fachkräfteaustausch

nurses/caregivers – (die) Pflegekraft

ease/simplify – erleichtern

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.