Integration course enrolment
Language is key to successful integration. The aim of the integration course is to be able to manage in everyday life and thus get closer to German society. The course comprises 660 classes. 600 of which are language classes and 60 are classes relating to politics, democracy, history, society, culture and similar topics ("orientation course").
The integration courses are governed by §§ 43 to 44a of the German Residency Act and Integration Course Ordinance. Read this if you are unsure whether or not you are required to undertake an integration course.
The German Residency Act stipulates different forms of admission for integration courses. The one that applies to you depends on when you received your residency permit, whether you are an ethnic German resettler or an EU citizen, whether you have a certain status according to the Residency Act, or whether you are German.
Regardless of which group you belong to, you must first obtain a permit before you can participate in an integration course.
You obtained your residence status prior to 2005-01-01
If there are still places available, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) can admit you into an integration course. This requires you to lodge an application with the office’s regional centre. Use the application form to do so.
In some cases, you may also have to complete an integration course if an authority requires it. This applies if you are a foreigner and
- receive "Arbeitslosengeld II" (long-term, lower level welfare benefits), the obligation is stipulated in the integration agreement, and the establishment paying you the Arbeitslosengeld II requires to complete the course, or
- if you require special integration, and the Bureau for Foreigners requests a course participation.
You obtained your residence status on or after 2005-01-01
If you obtained a long-term residency or settlement permit for the first time after this date (only if a residency permit is issued for the purposes stated in § 44 Para. 1 of the German Residency Act), you are entitled to undertake an integration course. This entitlement does not apply for children, teenagers or young adults completing their schooling in Germany, for those people not requiring a high level of integration, or if you already speak adequate German (though you can still undertake an orientation course.
If you cannot communicate easily in German or you receive Arbeitslosengeld II and the centre offering you the aid requires it, you are obliged to complete a course).
Ethnic German repatriates
You are entitled to participate in an integration course if you either returned to Germany after 2005-01-01, or returned to Germany beforehand but have not yet completed a language course sponsored by the Federal Employment Agency. Even if you have completed a language course run by the Federal Employment Agency, you can be admitted into the integration course if places are still available (§ 44 Paragraph 4 Clause 2 of the German Residency Act).
The course is free of charge for you, your spouse and your children.
The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees can admit you into a course if there are still places available. This requires you to lodge an application with the office’s regional centre.
If you do not speak adequate German, or particularly require integration, you can participate in a course if there are still places available. This requires you to lodge an application with the office’s regional centre.
Foreigners with long-time exceptional leave to remain
§ 104 a of the German Residency Act states the conditions under which foreigners with long-time exceptional leave to remain can obtain a residence permit enabling them to complete an integration course. With a residence permit according to § 104 a Paragraph 1 of the German Residency Act or § 23 Paragraph 1 of the German Residency Act, foreigners can lodge an application with the competent regional centre of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees regarding admission to an integration course. Once approved, they can register for a course through a course provider.
Foreigners with long-time exceptional leave to remain may be obliged to participate in a course if they receive Arbeitslosengeld II (long-term, lower level welfare benefits), and an obligation is stipulated in the integration agreement.
Foreigners from third-party countries entitled to long-term residency
If you can prove you have stayed in another EU member state for more than five years, the Bureau for Foreigners recognises your entitlement to participate in a course. You will then be entitled to participate.
You are obliged to participate if you speak little or no German, or receive Arbeitslosengeld II (long-term, lower level welfare benefits) and the competent centre requires you to take a course. If you hold a residence permit according to § 38a of the German Residency Act (i.e. your residence permit can be transferred from another EU country) and you have already undertaken integration activities in another EU country, you only need to attend the language course, not the orientation course.
Integration courses as preparation for the naturalisation test
The integration courses can also be used as preparation if you are due to take the naturalisation test and require proof of sufficient German knowledge for this. The 60-lesson orientation course covers lots of topics which are part of the naturalisation test. However, there are also special naturalisation courses which prepare extensively and systematically for the naturalisation test based on a framework curriculum.
One lesson costs EUR 2.94 per participant. The participants usually bear EUR 1.20 per lesson, and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees bears the remaining EUR 1.74. The participants’ own contribution for a block of 660 lessons totals EUR 792.00.
Persons entitled to participate in courses, and who pass the final test within two years of the participation permit being issued, can be refunded 50 percent of their contribution.
Participants may be completely exempted from making their contribution if they can demonstrate particular hardship with regards to paying the costs. Claims of hardship are accepted if the applicant can prove that another authority has exempted him / her from certain costs for social reasons. For example, the following rulings can be presented:
- Housing allowance
- BAFöG education assistance
- Supplement on child benefit
- Income based on the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act
- Exemption from day-care charges
- Exemption from TV and radio licensing fees (GEZ fee)
- Local "Sozialticket"
Recipients of Arbeitslosengeld II (long-term, lower level welfare benefits) and social welfare payments are exempted from the contribution upon request. In order to lodge a request for an exemption from the contribution, use the relevant form issued by the BAMF.
Ethnic German repatriates are exempted from the contribution by law.
Eligible persons who receive Arbeitslosengeld II and who are obliged by a basic social welfare provider to participate in an integration course or who have been exempted from the cost contribution are reimbursed the necessary travel expenses for ordinary participation. The following rule generally applies: If the nearest course location is less than 3 km away, participants are not reimbursed for transport costs. Participants not receiving any Arbeitslosengeld II, and who have been ordered to participate in a course by the Bureau for Foreigners due to a special need for integration, may receive a travel expense allowance.
Based on the German version authorized by Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge.