In integration courses you will not only learn German or improve your German; you and other newcomers will learn about Germany and its citizens, traditions, history and much more. In addition, you’ll be able to make new friends while attending integration courses.
What is an integration course?
Integration courses consist of a language and an orientation component. They cover everyday topics such as the workplace, shopping, television and radio, and childrearing. Participants learn about dealing with administrative offices, writing emails and letters, and interviewing for a job. You will also learn more about Germany as a country, from a number of perspectives: culture and politics, how people live and interact in Germany, and the values on which German society is based. The language course usually consists of 600 hours of instruction, the orientation course takes 60 hours. There are special courses for women, parents, young adults up to the age of 27 and other groups. At the end of each course, all participants take a final examination, free of charge.
Who can participate in an integration course?
Integration courses are intended for anyone who has recently arrived in Germany and whose German language skills are not yet adequate for dealing with the demands of everyday life. Whether you may take an integration course or, in some cases, are required to do so, depends on your country of origin and your level of fluency. The most important guidelines are these:
As a citizen of the EU, you are welcome to participate in an integration course if you want to learn German or improve your German, provided that a place is available. You are not required to do so.
Non-EU citizens are also allowed to take these courses. If your German is not yet particularly good, you may, under some circumstances, be required to take a course.
Are you employed and unable to take a full- or part-time course? You may be excused from participating. Upon issuing your residence permit, the foreigners’ registration office will let you know whether you are allowed or required to take an integration course. Special rules apply to ethnic German immigrants and to German citizens.
The website of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (www.bamf.de) contains an overview of the relevant rules.
Note that you are normally required to pay only 1.20 euros per hour of instruction – the remainder is covered by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
How to find an integration course
As a non-EU citizen, go to your local foreigners’ registration office, which will issue you a certificate allowing (Berechtigungsschein) you to participate in an integration course.
EU citizens should contact the to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees to apply for a place in an integration course.
The next step is to find a course provider (Kurstraeger). The foreigners’ registration office or the migration advisory centre will help you. You can also search using WebGIS, the online information system of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. (http://webgis.bamf.de)
When you have found a provider in your area, make contact either in person or by telephone. The provider will help you to select an appropriate integration course and let you know when it is scheduled to begin.