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Is Germany's 'Opportunity Card' visa too complicated to work?

Imogen Goodman
Imogen Goodman - [email protected]
Is Germany's 'Opportunity Card' visa too complicated to work?
An advertisement in an office window in Darmstadt states "Become part of our team". Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow

It's barely been a week since Germany introduced its point-based jobseekers' visa, but some experts are already saying the scheme is destined to fail.

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When Germany introduced its new points-based visa for skilled workers at the June, the anticipation was huge: for third-country nationals, it presented a new avenue for accessing Europe's largest economy, and for the government, a way to attract the workers the country desperately needs.

But barely a week after the Chancenkarte, or Opportunity Card, was introduced, experts have expressed scepticism that the scheme will have the desired effect.

Speaking to the Rheinische Post, migration experts at the German Institute for Employment Research (IAB) cast doubt on the visa's potential to attract a significant number of new workers.

Herbert Brücker, a researcher at the institute, believes that its impact will be "very modest," compared with similar schemes in countries like Canada and Australia. 

"Unlike the points system in Canada, for example, which paves the way to permanent residency, the German Opportunity Card is only about the possibility of finding a job," Brücker explained. 

He pointed out that many prospective workers might opt for other routes, such as remote job interviews or job-hunting on a tourist visa, in order to circumvent the bureaucracy involved in applying for the Chancenkarte.

Hans Vorländer, a migration researcher at TU Dresden and the chair of the Expert Council on Migration, took a similar view, arguing that the points-based system was still far too complicated to act as an incentive for foreign workers.

READ ALSO: How many skilled workers will immigrate to Germany with the Opportunity Card?

"German migration law is now so complicated that only a few people understand it," he said, adding that the government should have "more courage" to simplify the system.

However, the jobseekers' visa could go some way to broadening access to the German job market and opening immigration routes for target groups, Vorländer added. 

What is the Chancenkarte?

Whether in IT or industry, Germany is struggling to find the workers it needs to prop up the economy, with recent estimates suggesting that at least 400,000 new workers are required per year to plug the shortage.

As part of its package of immigration reforms designed to attract skilled workers, the government introduced the Opportunity Card, or Chancenkarte, on June 1st.

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This allows jobseekers to enter Germany for up to a year to look for a job, provided they earn enough points to be eligible for a visa.

Points are awarded for things like German or English language skills, professional qualifications and experience, age and connections to Germany. 

Applicants need to score at least 6 points out of a total of 14 in order to secure their permit. 

READ ALSO: How many points could you get on Germany's planned skilled worker visa?

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