Germany’s Opportunity Card vs Job Seeker Visa: What’s the difference?

Earlier this month, Smith Stone Walters provided an overview of a new category of German visa set to be introduced this summer: the Opportunity Card (Chancenkarte).

This week, we will be focusing on the differences between the new Opportunity Card and another German visa category: the Job Seeker visa. These two visa types are similar their intention but differ in their requirements and permitted duration of stay.

Until the Chancenkarte is rolled out (this is expected in June 2024), you must apply for a Job Seeker visa if you wish to move to Germany to find work.

To be eligible for the Job Seeker visa, your academic or vocational qualification must be recognized in Germany, and you must have at least five years of work experience in your related profession. Once the visa is granted, you may stay in Germany for up to six months; however, part-time employment is not allowed, meaning you must cover your expenses by savings alone through a mandatory blocked account.

What’s the difference?

The most essential differences between the two categories are set out below:

Minimum qualifications:

  • Job Seeker visa: Degree or vocational training recognized by Germany.
  • Opportunity Card: Professional qualification and 2+ years’ work experience.

Required language level:

  • Job Seeker visa: Minimum B1 level in German (if you have vocational training).
  • Opportunity Card: Minimum A1 level in German OR B2 level in English.

Visa duration:

  • Job Seeker visa: 6 months.
  • Opportunity Card: 1 year.

Required funds:

  • Job Seeker visa: €5,604.
  • Opportunity Card: €11,208.

Paid work permitted:

  • Job Seeker visa: No.
  • Opportunity Card: Yes, up to 20 hours a week.

As part of the new law for skilled immigration, Germany´s new Opportunity card offers skilled international workers from non-EU countries the opportunity to move to Germany to look for a full-time job. It avoids many bureaucratic hurdles and puts more emphasis on work experience rather than the German recognition of international diplomas.

While many details are still unknown, the Opportunity Card will make it easier for skilled workers to come to Germany to look for a job and for Germany to find suitable candidates in its bottleneck industries.

Support with your German visa application

If you are looking to relocate to Germany and require support with the visa process, Smith Stone Walters can help.

Our German immigration experts based in Frankfurt can help assess your eligibility for various routes and support with the preparation and submission of your visa application. To speak to an advisor, please contact us today.


Disclaimer: In accordance with the German law governing legal advice and services (RDG, section 2 subsection 1) our services do not include any legal advice.

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