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Germany's new visa programme makes it easier for skilled workers to immigrate

By?Lynn Brown,?
Getty Images Berlin, with view of the Reichstag Building (Credit: Getty Images)Getty Images

If you've ever longed to live in Germany, now might be the perfect time to try. The country recently announced a new work visa, the Chancenkarte, or "Opportunity Card", which offers non-EU nationals a new opportunity to immigrate to Germany.

The Chancenkarte, which opened for applications on 1 June, offers a new points-based system that rates applicants by specific criteria, including academic qualifications, language skills and past professional experience.

"[The Opportunity Card] will make it easier and quicker for people with experience and potential to find a suitable job and get started," Nancy Faeser, Germany's Federal Minister of the Interior and Community, said in a statement to the BBC. ????????

Those granted the Opportunity Card can live in Germany for up to one year while looking for work, rather than requiring an employer to sponsor them beforehand. The card also allows people to legally work part-time while searching for something more permanent. It represents a major shift in the way the country is addressing its growing labour shortage and is intended to help increase the number of professional workers in fields like medicine, education, manufacturing and engineering. Much more than just a digital nomad visa, the new card offers non-EU citizens the opportunity to streamline the German immigration process and search for work on the ground in the country, a move that has been hotly debated by conservatives, who argue that it could allow for already-rejected asylum seekers to find work in Germany.

Successful applicants will either have a professional qualification or academic degree that is fully recognised in Germany, or a combination of criteria such as years of professional experience, a certain age and language skills, each of which are worth a certain number of points. Applicants must have a rating of six or more points to qualify for the visa. They must also show proof of ability to cover living expenses during their job search, at least €1,027 per month.

Getty Images (Credit: Getty Images)Getty Images

Because EU citizens can already live and work in Germany, the new opportunity visa is geared towards those currently living outside the EU and in Switzerland, as Swiss citizens also do not require a visa for entry or a permit to work in Germany. The Chancenkarte is set up to favour non-EU citizens with connections to the country, as extra points are available for those who have German language skills or have studied in a German school.

Alex Masurovsky, a former Master's student at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, who now lives in New York, is intrigued by the opportunity the new visa affords to return to live and work in Berlin.

"For me, [Germany] had just enough of those European sensibilities, like sitting down for coffee and staying out late, to enjoy without it feeling pretentious," he reflected. "It also has a great appreciation for music, mostly electronic, but small and sincere pockets of jazz, blues and punk rock, too. I'd recommend it to anyone."

Though it's true that the country's culture and nightlife can be a draw, ultimately the new visa aims to provide a long term solution to address the nation's labour shortages, which is one of the major factors contributing to Germany's ongoing financial issues. "We are making sure that we can attract the skilled workers our economy has urgently needed for years," Fraser said. "This is vital for our country's future."

Those interested in learning more can visit the Make It In Germany website for more information. The site has a "self-check" that allows visitors to check their eligibility status for the Chancenkarte.?Official applications for the visa should be made in person at your local German Diplomatic Mission.

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