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South Africans in Germany

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Germany, with its robust economy, rich cultural heritage, and world-renowned education system, has become an increasingly attractive destination for professionals from around the globe.
For South Africans seeking to build a new life in Europe, the Chancenkarte, or “Opportunity Card,” offers a promising pathway

What is the Chancenkarte?

The Chancenkarte (Opportunity Card) is a points-based immigration system introduced by Germany to attract skilled workers from non-EU countries.
Modelled after the Canadian and Australian immigration systems, this card aims to fill gaps in the German labour market by offering opportunities to qualified professionals.
The Chancenkarte allows individuals to live in Germany while they search for a job, providing up to six months to secure employment.

Understanding the Opportunity Card

The card is designed to simplify the process for skilled workers to move to Germany, ensuring that the country can fill its critical labour gaps with qualified professionals.

As someone from outside the EU/EEA, you can obtain an opportunity card in two ways:

  • You have completed vocational or academic training successfully. The qualification must be recognized by the country where you obtained it and involves at least two years of vocational training. To bolster your visa application, you’ll need a positive assessment of this qualification, obtainable online through the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB).
  • Proof of language proficiency: You either have German language skills of at least level A1 as defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) or English language skills of at least level B2 (CEFR). 

Foreign Qualifications without recognition

  • You hold a foreign vocational qualification or a foreign university degree. These do not have to be officially recognised in Germany but the qualification must be recognized by the country where you obtained it and involves at least two years of vocational training. To bolster your visa application, you’ll need a positive assessment of this qualification, obtainable online through the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB).
  • You can demonstrate basic (level A1) German or good (level B2) English language skills
  •  A score of at least six points in the points system
  •  Secure financial means: blocked account with at least €1,027 per month (as of 2024) or Declaration of Commitment.

Recognised Skilled Worker

You are a skilled worker as defined in Section 18 of Germany’s Residence Act. This means 

In this case, there are no additional requirements to be met to obtain an opportunity card.


The points based system

The points system only pertains to you, if you cannot prove that you have a German qualification or that your foreign qualification is fully recognised.
To apply for an opportunity card visa, you must provide evidence of your formal qualifications and necessary language skills.
Points can be earned based on the following criteria:


If you’ve already applied for recognition of your foreign qualification and it’s deemed partially equivalent, you’ll earn four points. Even if you need to undergo compensatory measures to obtain a license for a regulated profession, you’ll still receive these four points.


You’ll earn points for German language skills above level A1 (CEFR): one point for A2, two points for B1, and three points for B2 or higher. Additionally, you’ll get an extra point for English skills at level C1 or above, or if you’re a native speaker.

Previous stays in Germany

Have you already lived in Germany? If you can prove that you have legally resided in Germany for at least six continuous months in the past five years, you will receive one point. This includes stays for study, language learning, or work. However, stays for tourism or visiting people do not count. You can submit copies of old passports, visas, and entry stamps as evidence.


Points are also awarded for professional experience related to your formal qualification gained after graduation. You will receive two points for at least two years of professional experience within the last five years. For at least five years of professional experience within the last seven years, you will receive three points.


You also earn points based on your age. If you are 35 or younger, you receive two points until the day you turn 35. Those between 35 and 40 are awarded one point.

Shortage occupation

If your formal qualification is in a shortage occupation, you’ll receive one point. To see which occupations are in high demand, check the List of Professions in Demand

Spouses or life partners

Are you married or in a partnership and looking to come to Germany with your partner using an opportunity card? If your partner already qualifies for an opportunity card, you will receive an additional point in the points system. With this advantage, your partner can also complete the self-check for the opportunity card.

Additional information

  • If you are seeking employment in a regulated profession, i.e. in healthcare, a professional practice permit (Berufsausübungserlaubnis) is mandatory. For more information on the recognition procedure, please see Recognition
  • Have you completed vocational training? If so, you must provide proof of possessing the German language skills required for the job you are seeking. Generally speaking, a minimum level of B1 in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is required.
  • You are able to prove that you can cover your costs of living since you are not able to enter into remunerated employment during this time. Proof of being able to cover living costs can be provided in the form of a blocked bank account or a Declaration of Commitment.

The Application Process

Applying for the Opportunity Card involves several steps:

  1. Self-Assessment: Prospective applicants can use online tools to estimate their points based on the criteria.
  2. Make an appointment at the German embassy for a Type D Visa
  3. Apply for the visa in your country of residence. Document Submission: Proof of qualifications, experience, and language skills must be provided.
  4. Verification and Approval: Applications are reviewed by German authorities to ensure authenticity and eligibility.
  5. Issuance of the Visa: Once approved, the Opportunity Card is issued, allowing entry and work in Germany.
  6. Enter Germany
  7. Register at the Bürgeramt (Local Town office)
  8. Apply for a residence permit at the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigners office)
This flyer from Make it in Germany is very informative.


Leagal basis

Information on the web

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Germany is a popular destination for immigrants from all over the world due to its strong economy and high standard of living. The country has a long history of immigration, with the first wave of immigrants arriving in the 1950s and 1960s to help rebuild the country.
Today, Germany is home to a diverse population of immigrants. In recent years, the country has seen an increase in refugees and asylum seekers, with over 1.5 million people seeking asylum in Germany since 2015.

The German government has implemented various policies and programs to manage immigration and integration, including language and job training programs for immigrants, as well as measures to combat discrimination and xenophobia. One of the most significant changes in recent years has been the introduction of the Skilled Immigration Act in 2020, which aims to attract highly skilled workers from outside the European Union to fill labour shortages in various industries.

Our “I want to work or live in Germany” page summarises all your options to legally come to Germany

I want to work or live in Germany

Important facts South African citizens need a visa to travel to Germany and a residence permit to stay longer than 90 days A visa allows you to enter the country, you apply for your visa at the German Embassy in South Africa. You must apply for the correct long-stay visa, this is linked to the residence permit you will apply for once you are in Germany. For a list of long-stay visas and their relevant information please view our long-stay visas page. After arriving in Germany, you need to register at the Foreigners Office (Ausländerbehörde) Thereafter you need to apply for a residence permit (Aufenhaltstitel or Aufenhaltserlaubnis), which


It is essential to obtain the appropriate visa before your departure. A visa is a legal requirement that allows foreigners to enter and stay in Germany for a limited duration.
Depending on your nationality, the purpose of your trip, and the length of stay, you may need to apply for a Schengen visa (Type C) or a national visa (Type D).
It is advisable to research the requirements and gather all the necessary documents well in advance. An incomplete application or missing documents could lead to a delay or rejection of your application. With the proper visa in hand, you can enjoy your visit to Germany with peace of mind and the ability to fully immerse yourself in the country’s culture and beauty.

Family Reunification Visa

“German citizens or citizens from non-EU countries who have an Aufenthaltserlaubnis (residence permit) or a Niederlassungserlaubnis (settlement permit) are allowed to bring their relatives to

List of Long Stay Visas

Long Term visas are seen as visits longer than 90 days and will typically be for work or study visits. If your application is approved,

List of Short stay Visas

According to the German Embassy in South Africa, “South African passport holders require a visa to enter Germany.  It is important to note that if you

Visa application tips

We are not immigration agents, and your first point of contact should always be the German embassy or consulate in South Africa.Most of the information


The Residence Act is the primary legal framework for immigration in Germany. It sets out the conditions under which non-German citizens can enter and reside in the country. The act distinguishes between different types of visas, such as short-term and long-term visas, and regulates the rights and obligations of foreign residents, including their access to social benefits. There are two types of Residence permits in Germany. The one is an Aufenthaltserlaubnis/Temporary Residence and the other is a Niederlassungserlaubnis/permanent residence.

Legal Basis

  • The German AufenthG (Gesetz über den Aufenthalt, die Erwerbstätigkeit und die Integration von Ausländern im Bundesgebiet ) can be found on the website of the Bundesministerium der Justiz
  • There is also an English version of the Act on Residence, Economic Activity and Integration of Foreigners in the Federal Territory
Temp Aufenthalt

Residence in Germany

A Visa allows you to enter Germany, and stay for no more than 90 days in a 180-day cycle.When you want to stay in Germany for longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for the correct visa in your home country and once you are in Germany, apply for the subsequent residence permit (Aufenhaltstitel) at the competent Aliens Authority in Germany. There are two types of residence permits in Germany: Temporary  – Your first type of residence in Germany will always be temporary. You can only apply for permanent residence once certain conditions are met.   Permanent –  may be granted in the form of a Settlement permit (Niederlassungserlaubnis) or Permanent EC


Foreigners who wish to become German citizens must meet certain requirements, including a minimum period of residence in Germany, fluency in the German language, and knowledge of German culture and history. Applicants must also renounce their current citizenship, unless they are from an EU country or Switzerland. The naturalization process can take several years, and applicants must pass a citizenship test and demonstrate good conduct.

Overall, the immigration process in Germany can be complex and time-consuming. However, with careful planning and preparation, foreigners can successfully navigate the process and enjoy all that Germany has to offer.

Ways of obtaining German citizenship

Please note: Although the information on this website has been prepared with the utmost care, we cannot accept any responsibility for inaccuracies contained herein. Always refer to the official websites for up-to-date information.  The German Cabinet approved the new legislation to allow Dual Citizenship.  The new law comes into effect on  26 June 2024. This page will then be updated as wellHere is a link to the changes (in German).   A summary of the proposed changes:  Multiple citizenship will be allowed, there is no need to renounce your South African citizenship anymore. This also means you will have to apply for retention of your South African citizenship. If you meet the

Resources and Support Services

Germany offers various governmental assistance programs to immigrants to help them integrate into society. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) provides language courses, vocational training, and job placement services to immigrants. The courses are offered in various languages, including German, English, and French. The BAMF also offers counselling services to immigrants on various topics, such as housing, education, and healthcare.

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) also provides assistance to immigrants. The BMAS offers job placement services, vocational training, and financial assistance to immigrants who are unemployed or underemployed. The ministry also provides information on social benefits and pensions.

Make it in Germany is the portal of the Federal Government for skilled workers from abroad. Find information on jobs, visa & living in Germany!

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