German Opportunity Card: Really Better Cards for Foreign Professionals and Companies?

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The new Skilled Workers Immigration Act of July 7, 2023 (the rules are to come into force gradually from November 2023) also brings into play the opportunity card for promising specialists from third countries without a concrete job offer. It is part of the German government’s skilled labor strategy and offers new access to the German labor market that could not be used before. The card is based on a points system with criteria such as qualifications, knowledge of German and English, professional experience, reference to Germany, age and potential of life or marriage partners.

For example, the Opportunity Card reduces the requirement for necessary language skills in German to “simple knowledge” (A1). This lowers an important hurdle for many sought-after skilled workers, for example from the IT sector. Another regulation stipulates that eligible persons may no longer work only in part-time jobs, but also in full-time jobs. Potential candidates from third countries without a concrete job commitment will be allowed to enter the country with the Opportunity Card for an initial period of one year. In addition, there is the possibility of extending the card for up to two years.

The credit point system at a glance

  • Foreign vocational qualification, recognized according to German standards, even if subsequent qualification may be required = 4 points
  • At least 5 years of professional experience or “good German language skills” = 3 points
  • Sufficient German language skills at B1 level, two years of work experience, persons,up to 35 years = 2 points
  • Sufficient German language skills, previous stay in Germany (at least six months in the past five years), age between 35 and 40 years, English skills at C1 level, qualification can be assigned to a German shortage occupation, partner fulfills the criteria for the opportunity card = 1 point Source

Will the opportunity card bring relief or just more bureaucracy again?

In the run-up to the passing of the law, experts such as labor market researcher Holger Bonin expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the Opportunity Card. The system, they said, was too complicated. Moreover, the verification of qualifications for the award of points would require additional bureaucratic effort. The fact that the quota of cards will be fixed annually could also have a deterrent and unsettling effect on potential specialists from third countries.

According to Bonin, Germany should be less fixated on formal certificates and rely more on the skills of employers in selecting suitable workers. Employers’ associations critically note that in practice, skills acquired abroad are difficult to recognize. Also, they say, there is not always a German reference occupation. The suggestion here is to recognize “relevant work experience.” This could be proven in an uncomplicated manner via work references (source:

Even though these objections may have some justification, the opportunity card should be seen in the overall context of the new Skilled Worker Immigration Act. Here, it is certainly positive that a new path is also being created for skilled workers from third countries. This will prevent Germany from falling further behind or even being left behind in the global “war for talent” or competition for skilled workers.

Smart international recruiting can effectively support the skilled workforce strategy

Tools and measures such as the Opportunity Card of the German government can be supported by the know-how of smart solutions such as International Recruiting from Thus, we accompany the complex processes of bringing together candidates from third countries and employers in Germany with our networks in South America, Africa and Asia as well as our experience with the labor markets and bureaucracies there. Our own customized digital platform for international recruiting simplifies the process and helps assess qualifications acquired abroad.


Image credits: AI tool Divi

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