Integration courses for foreigners
The Residence Act guarantees state-run integration measures in the form of an integration course. This includes the following:
- Elementary and advanced language course
(totalling 600 lessons) to provide foreigners with sufficient knowledge of German
- Orientation course
(45 lessons) to provide foreigners with knowledge of the legal system, culture and history in Germany.
In order to make the learning of the German language as individual as possible, the language courses are made up of six modules with different levels of ability.
The aim of the language course is to attain "sufficient knowledge of the language", to put the course participants in a position to communicate in the German language in everyday life. To successfully complete the integration course, the foreigner is required to pass an examination for the German Certificate (equivalent to stage B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). Participants can choose to repeat individual course modules of the language course at their own expense. They can also continue the course at their own expense after having completed 600 lessons. In justified exceptional cases, there is a maximum state-supported duration of 1,200 hours.
the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF)
Note: Private and public institutions, which are approved by the federal office, are assigned to carry out the integration courses. You can look for course organisers in your vicinity on the website of the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge.
The entitlement to take part in the integration course is linked to the granting of a residence permit for specific residence purposes and assumes a permanent stay in the Federal Republic of Germany. The entitlement arises once you are granted a residence permit for the first time
- for employment purposes (self-employment and dependent employment),
- for the purpose of subsequent immigration of dependents,
- on humanitarian grounds as a person entitled to asylum or Convention refugee or
- when granting a settlement permit to those foreigners who have been granted a residence permit by the BAMF due to a directive of the Bundesinnenministerium to protect special political interests of the Federal Republic of Germany
Foreigners can only attend the course once.
The right to attend an integration course will automatically expire two years after the issuance of the residence title or should the residence title lapse.
The following persons are not entitled to attend
- children, youths and young adults who take up a school education or resume their previous schooling in Germany,
- persons for whom the need for integration is discernibly negligible
- persons who have sufficient knowledge of German (in this case, the foreigner is still entitled to attend the orientation course).
Note: EU citizens do no have a legal entitlement to participate in an integration course. However, upon request, they can be allowed to attend an integration course by the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge if there are enough places in the course.
You are obliged to attend an integration course, if you are entitled to attend and
- you cannot communicate in a simple manner in the German language (in specific cases there is an obligation to attend which differs from this even if there is not a sufficient knowledge of the German language)
- you receive benefits in accordance with the second book of the Social Security Code and the participation in an integration agreement is specified or
- you are in special need of integration and have been called upon by the authority for foreign nations to participate.
The following foreigners are exempt from attending:
- those who are undergoing vocational or a similar form of training or education in Germany,
- those who can provide evidence of having attended comparable education measures in Germany,
- those for whom attendance is unfeasible or unreasonable in the long run or
- those who have already had a long-term residence entitlement n another member state of the European Union (EU) and have attended integration measures there.
N.B. Non-compliance with the obligation to attend may result in the application to renew the residence permit being refused, the foreigner being refused a settlement permit and a reduction in social benefits of up to 30 percent if the foreigner is claiming benefits in accordance with book two of the Social Security Code (e.g. the unemployment benefit "Arbeitslosengeld II"). Furthermore, the authority for foreign nationals is authorized to charge the contribution to the costs of the course in advance if a foreigner does not comply with his obligation to attend.
Confirmation of the right or obligation to attend is provided by the authority for foreign nationals. With the confirmation, you can register for an integration course at an approved institution of your choice. At the same time as the registration, you can file an application for exemption from the costs.
Whoever can speak a little German can take a free language test before the start of the course. You may then be able to skip individual course modules. If your knowledge of the language already corresponds to the level aimed at in the course, then the authority for foreign nationals certifies that you do not have to attend an integration course.
A test has to be taken at the end of the course. A certificate is issued as a confirmation for those who pass the test.
Whoever does not pass the test can repeat individual course modules at their own expense.
- §§ 44 und 44a Aufenthaltsgesetz (AufenthG)
- § 11 Abs. 1 Gesetz über die allgemeine Freizügigkeit von Unionsbürgern (Freizügigkeitsgesetz/EU - FreizügG EU)
- § 9 Abs. 1 Gesetz über die Angelegenheiten der Vertriebenen und Flüchtlinge (Bundesvertriebenengesetz - BVFG)
- Verordnung über die Durchführung von Integrationskursen für Ausländer und Spätaussiedler (Integrationskursverordnung - IntV)
The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Integrationsministerium released it on 13.04.2015. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts.
In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.