The Immigration Act for Germany: changes to the Western Balkans regulation from June 2024, and the opportunity card

The Immigration Act for Germany: changes to the Western Balkans regulation from June 2024, and the opportunity card

The new Immigration Act will make it easier for job seekers and people from the Western Balkans to immigrate to Germany. In this third and final part, we look at the laws that will apply from June 2024.

Introduction of the job search opportunity card

An opportunity card will be introduced for job-seeking residence. There are two ways to obtain this:
1. third-country nationals who can prove that their foreign qualification is fully equivalent and are therefore considered “skilled workers” in accordance with Section 18 (3) AufenthG can obtain the opportunity card without any other special requirements.
2. all others must provide proof of a foreign university degree, a vocational qualification of at least two years’ duration (recognised by the state in the country of training) or a vocational qualification issued by a German chamber of commerce abroad. In addition, either basic German (level A1 CEFR) or English language skills (level B2 CEFR) are required.

If these requirements are met, you can collect different points for criteria such as recognition of qualifications in Germany, language skills, professional experience, age and connection to Germany as well as the potential of the accompanying spouse or partner. At least six points must be achieved in order to receive the Chancenkarte.

The Chancenkarte is issued for a maximum of one year if you are able to secure your livelihood for this period. During your stay in Germany, it offers the opportunity for trial work or part-time employment for 20 hours a week. If you are unable to obtain another employment title afterwards, but still have an offer of qualified employment, the Chancenkarte can be extended for a further two years.

Western Balkans regulation

The Western Balkans regulation offers people from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia access to the labour market in Germany for any type of employment in non-regulated professions. This regulation was actually limited in time until the end of 2023, but is now being cancelled. This means that there is no longer a time limit.

From June 2024, the quota will be 50,000 approvals per year from the Federal Employment Agency. What’s more, the usual lottery procedure for visas will be abolished and with it the great uncertainty. It will be replaced by a simpler procedure: if the employer applies for advance approval in advance, the corresponding visa can then be initiated as normal, but without a lottery procedure.