“Opportunity Card” for Jobseekers

Hand hält eine Karte, auf der "Chance" steht.
Update 08.07.2024

How can I obtain a "Chancenkarte"?

Chancenkarte” or the Opportunity Card (as per §20a, b Residence Act) will be available from June 2024. Qualified professionals will thus have the opportunity to obtain a stay permit to look for a job in Germany. To obtain an Opportunity Card, you must meet certain requirements. Below, you can find what you need to consider. 

*This information on this page has been reviewed and verified by our consulting lawyer Astrid Meyerhöfer.

What do I need to know?

What is a “Chancenkarte” or ”Opportunity Card”?

The Opportunity Card or “Chancenkarte” (according to Section 20 a, b Residence Act) is a residence permit for skilled workers. “Chancenkarte” will be granted based on a point system. That means to obtain the Opportunity Card, you must achieve at least 6 points. You can win points for various criteria, such as professional qualifications, as well as language skills, professional experience and age. The Opportunity Card is designated to give the applicants a chance to search for a job and can be applied for from abroad. But it can also serve as a sort of bridge: if lose your job and, as a result, your residence permit in Germany, you can obtain a “Chancenkarte” to stay here and look for another job. “Chancenkarte” is only granted for a short period of up to 1 year. Under strict conditions, there is an extension option for up to 2 years.

A major advantage of “Chancenkarte” is that you do not have to show a specific job offer before entering Germany, you can also obtain it without having a job. The main disadvantage is the obligation to secure one's livelihood independently. And you are only allowed to work 20 hours per week while looking for a job.

Please note: The Opportunity Card or “Chancenkarte” is not the same as “​​Chancenaufenthalt” (as per Section 104c of the Residence Act), which is a chance for asylum seekers in Germany to secure a residence permit.

What requirements do I need to get the "Opportunity Card"?

There are two ways to obtain the Opportunity Card:

  • Third-country nationals who are considered “skilled workers” (according to Section 18, Paragraph 3 of the Residence Act) can receive the Opportunity Card without any special additional requirements. In order to be considered a skilled worker, you must prove that your foreign qualifications or university degrees are recognised in Germany.

  • If you are not a “skilled worker”, you must demonstrate either basic German (A1 CEFR) or English language skills (B2 CEFR), win at least six points in the points system and meet one of the following criteria:

           + You have a foreign university degree or

           + You have a professional qualification obtained after at least two years of training,                       recognised in the country where you completed your training.

           + Or you have a professional qualification issued by a German Chamber of Commerce                 Abroad.

Please note: You must have the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB) confirm that your foreign professional qualification was obtained after at least two years of training and education. You need to cover the costs of this procedure personally. The ZAB must also confirm that your professional qualification or university degree is state-recognised in the country where you completed your training or university degree (Section 20a Paragraph 4 Sentence 5 Residence Act).

With the ‘Self-Check: Chancenkarte’ provided by ‘Make it in Germany’, you can check out for yourself whether you fulfil the requirements for an opportunity card by filling in your personal details. 

What other criteria do I have to meet to collect points for the Opportunity Card?

Even if you are not a “skilled worker”, you can collect points to obtain the Opportunity Card if you meet the requirements. You receive a certain number of points for different criteria– to receive the Opportunity Card, at least six points must be achieved. These criteria are taken into account when awarding points:

  • Recognition of qualifications in Germany

  • Linguistic proficiency

  • Work experience

  • Age

  • Prior links to Germany or previous periods of stay in Germany

  • The (academic, professional, etc) potentials of your partner or spouse who would come with you

Good to know: Anyone with an Opportunity Card would have the same rights, regardless of the number of points they managed to win to obtain “Chancenkarte”. Your score will not be recorded on your Opportunity Card.


How are the points granted?


4 points


  • for recognition or partial recognition of a foreign professional qualification (further qualifying measures may be possible under certain circumstances)


  • for permission to practice a regulated profession (e.g. educator, nurse or engineer)


3 points

  • if you have at least 5 years of professional experience (within the last 7 years) and have previously completed two years of vocational training in your country of origin


  • for good German language skills (B2 CEFR).

2 points

  • for sufficient German language skills (B1 CEFR)


  • for 2 years of professional experience in the last 5 years, if you have previously completed vocational training


  • for people who are not older than 35 years old.


1 point

  • for basic German language skills (A2 CEFR)


  • if you have been in Germany for at least 6 months in the last 5 years (but not as a tourist)


  • if you are between 35 and 40 years old


  • if you have very good knowledge of English (C1 CEFR)


  • if your qualification is in a job considered a shortage occupation in Germany

    (Good to know: You can find out which professions count as “shortage occupation” on page 34 of this document. Please note that only the professions with the numbers 132, 133, 134, 21, 221, 222, 225, 226, 23 or 25 belong to these special professions.)


  • if your partner meets the requirements for the Opportunity Card and you submit the application for the Opportunity Card together.

Important: Even if you have achieved 6 points, you may not be able to get an entry visa. The decision on whether you should receive one is made by the respective consulates.

For how long is a “Chancenkarte” valid?

You can initially get the Opportunity Card for up to 1 year. To do so, you must be able to secure your livelihood during your stay.

How can I secure my livelihood while I'm looking for a job?

With the Opportunity Card, you can test jobs by working for two weeks as a probation period during your stay in Germany. Keep in mind that the trial employment must be qualified and training-oriented. You also have the opportunity to work part-time for 20 hours a week. You can use it to secure your livelihood. 

Another option is a so-called blocked account (“Sperrkonto”). At least €1,027 must be available in the blocked account for each month that you plan to spend in Germany with an Opportunity Card. The money remains blocked in the account until your arrival in Germany. Another special feature of the blocked account is that you cannot withdraw or transfer unlimited amounts of money. You may withdraw a maximum of €1,027 per month, unless you have deposited more than the required minimum amount. 

If you do not have enough money yourself, a third person can submit a so-called declaration of commitment on your behalf. You can find out more in our chapter ‘Declaration of commitment for a national visa’.



Can my stay be extended with the “Chancenkarte”?

If you do not receive an employment permit (Sections 18 – 21 Paragraph 4 Residence Act) after 1 year, your stay can still be extended under certain conditions. To do so, you need an offer for a qualified job that has been approved by the Federal Employment Agency. Then, your Opportunity Card can be extended for a maximum of another 2 years. During this time, you should meet the requirements for issuing a residence permit for skilled workers (according to Sections 18 ff. Residence Act), for instance, gain professional experience. Keep in mind that the subsequent Opportunity Card cannot be extended again. During the extension period, you are only allowed to do the job that is specified on your work permit. This means that you are not allowed to take up part-time employment in another job (Section 20a Paragraph 5 Sentence 5 Residence Act).

Important: If you receive a “Chancenkarte,” you cannot switch directly to a permanent residence permit after your “Chancenkarte” expires. That means you must first change to another residence permit to be able to apply for a permanent residence permit. However, the years in which you had an Opportunity Card are counted towards the required residence duration for a permanent residence permit (Section 20a Paragraph 6 Residence Act draft). 

Good to know: After the maximum extension of the Opportunity Card, you can only apply for a new Opportunity Card after a certain period of time.

After your Opportunity Card expires, you need to wait as long as its validity period before you can apply for another “Chancenkarte”. In other words, the period in between must be at least as long as the time in which you had the old Opportunity Card. During this time, you need another residence permit to stay in Germany or spend this time abroad.


Can I have my family join me in Germany if I hold a “Chancenkarte”?

Family reunification is possible, but only if the general requirements are met, e.g. securing a livelihood, sufficient living space and, if necessary, language skills (A1 for spouses, C1 for children over 16). You can find more information in our chapter on Family reunification. 

Please note: You can apply for “Chancenkarte” together with your spouse. You and your spouse may even win a point each by doing so. You can find out more about the points system in the section "What other criteria do I have to meet to collect points for the Opportunity Card?".

It is crucial to keep in mind that if your spouse is not able to apply for a “Chancenkarte” at the same time as you and you are issued a “Chancenkarte”, family reunification will not be without challenges. One important requirement for family reunification that you need to meet is that your residence permit must be valid for at least 1 year at the time your spouse applies for a family reunification visa (§ 30 Para. 1 e) Residence Act). As the “Chancenkarte” is initially only valid for 1 year, you may encounter difficulties.

It is likely for holders of “Chancenkarte” not to be able to meet the high requirements for family reunification until they have a concrete job offer confirmed by the Employment Agency and hold a residence permit as a skilled worker (according to §18a or §18b Residence Act), an EU Blue Card (according to §18g Residence Act), residence permit for vocational training (according to §16a Residence Act), or recognition of your professional qualifications (according to §16g Residence Act) or an extended "Chancenkarte". That means you will be subjected to the general regulations on family reunification. You can find out more about it in our chapter on "Family reunification".

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