Germany in 2023 suffers from the same skilled labor shortages as most other nations in Western Europe. In fact, during 2022, the German Institute for Employment Research (IAB) found that there were a staggering 1.74 million vacant positions throughout Germany.

With a view to address this challenge, the country has announced the imminent launch of the so-called “Chancenkarte”, or Opportunity Card visa regime. 

Whilst we’ve previously reported on the country’s jobseeker visa, the new Opportunity Card program will focus on making it easier – and faster – for foreign nationals with vocational experience to move to Germany for work.

Let’s get into the details below…

Which career vacancies and roles are in demand in Germany in 2023?

Germany, like France and the Netherlands, are facing acute and ongoing skills shortages. In fact, a recent IAB survey revealed that over 50% of the companies polled had to slow down their operations due to a lack of skilled staff. 

Germany already launched a jobseeker visa over a decade ago, a move that has more recently been followed by countries like  Sweden and Portugal.

The German skilled shortage occupation list includes scientists, physicians, engineers (both software and electrical), nurses, carers, and tourism and hospitality staff, in particular. In addition, the country is also suffering from an acute labor shortage in sectors like retail, construction, wholesale, food production and manufacturing.

The country is hoping to address these shortages by making it easier for non-EU migrant workers to move there. Whilst it already has the German Blue Card visa track for highly skilled professionals, the country can also benefit from attracting more vocationally trained workers (i.e. non-degreed workers).

Whilst the German cabinet has green-lighted the proposed immigration law changes that will support the Opportunity Card program, it must still be ratified by both the country’s houses of parliament. 

The proposed new German Chancenkarte Visa regime at a glance

The Opportunity Card program will utilize a points-based application system and focus on priority employment sectors. In addition, it will allow eligible skilled applicants to move to Germany for up to one year, even if they don’t have an offer of employment yet. 

The program will also feature an annual quota based system, which will be set based on which industries require skilled workers most urgently.

The multi-faceted points system will take into account your formal qualifications, age, experience, as well as German language skills and your existing ties to the country. (More on the exact requirements below).

Another significant development is that Germany will become more flexible in terms of which professional and educational qualifications they accept. Historically, the country has been very strict about which qualifications was recognised under its skilled migration regime.

And another benefit – whilst looking for a job in Germany, you’ll be allowed to work for up to 20 hours per week (i.e. half-day).

For candidates who already have a job offer and who hold a recognised diploma the program’s salary thresholds will be lowered. The German immigration authorities also aim to offer visa applicants access to a streamlined family reunification process, along with a streamlined process for permanent residency applications.

What are the expected requirements for the Germany Opportunity Card Visa

In order to apply for the Opportunity Card, you’ll have to meet three out of the four requirements:

  • You’ll have a university degree, OR relevant vocational training
  • You’ll have to have a minimum of three years’ professional experience in the relevant field
  • You’ll have to be able to fluency in the German language, OR you should previously have stay in Germany
  • You’ll have to be 35 years or younger at the time of applying.

In addition, you’ll have to have a fixed address in Germany for the duration of your stay under this visa, and you’ll have to prove that you have the financial means to cover your living costs.

When will the German Opportunity Card Visa be launched?

The exact program specifics are currently still being finalized, and it still needs to be ratified by both houses of Germany’s parliament. As such, the program is not expected to launch until the end of 2023 at the earliest. 

Discussing the new proposed visa regime during a press conference in January 2023,

 Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is on record as saying that: 

“…We know that we can only guarantee our future, the efficiency of our economy and the efficiency of our social security systems if we have enough skilled workers at our disposal.”

We’ll update this article once the official website for the “Chancenkarte” Visa is launched, along with more details on how you can apply for this new jobseeker visa for skilled workers, in due course