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German Integration CoursesThose who wish to settle in Germany, to study, work or live there, need to learn German. It is a general rule of the German Immigration Authorities, that whoever comes to settle in Germany, needs to learn at least the basics of the German language.

Aside of that, these people, upon settling in Germany will have to learn certain things about the country of Germany, as its history, culture, legal system etc.

To many it may sound like a lot of stuff to learn and a lot of hard work to do and maybe even senseless, but actually it is not. The country of Germany has a very well organized system for foreigners, and wishes to integrate them into its society, and that is the main reason that it requires from foreigners the knowledge of German language and much more. The benefits of knowing German language while in Germany are many, and integrating into the social life of the country, finding work or studying is pretty hard even if you have a perfect English.

For those wondering where they can find an integration course, and whether the attendance of these courses is obligatory and regulated, this article will explain shortly but clearly, everything you need to know about a Germany integration course, where you can find one, how long you should attend it, how to apply and how much you have to pay for it.

What is an integration course?

An integration course for foreigners is a school-like system of classes in German and about Germany that enables foreign nationals that have come to live in Germany, to learn the German language and more about the tradition, customs, history, culture, legal system of Germany, and much more.

These courses are regulated in every level, starting from the number of hours one needs to attend to the aspects they cover. Before a foreigner gets enrolled in one of these courses, he or she will go through an assessment exam, in order for the respective office to be able to decide whether the foreigner needs to participate in a course or not.

Who should attend an integration course?

If you are a third-country national who has come to Germany recently and you have very little knowledge or no knowledge at all of the German language and about Germany then you need to participate in a German course of this kind. Whereas, if you are a third-country national who has a good knowledge of German language and are well informed about Germany, and you show good results in the assessment exam then you will not need to attend these classes.

On the other hand, the nationals of the European Union member states are not obliged to attend any of these courses, no matter if they know German a little or not at all. However, if they wish to, they can attend German classes and other German integration courses for as long as they wish. Immigrants and refugees are also obliged to attend these courses.

Types of integration courses

In general, as explained above, depending on the content, courses in Germany are separated into two types:

  • German language courses (elementary & advanced)
  • Orientation course – which provide the foreigners with knowledge on the German legal system, culture and history

For beginners learning German in Germany, there is a course of 400 to 600 hours of classes, 45 minutes each, in order to reach the B1 level. Whereas, advanced learners take normally about 300 hours of advanced lessons.

On the other hand, the orientation course is made up of 100 hours of 45 minutes each, and should be taken by all participants.

The classes are also grouped depending on the situation of the foreigners who wish to attend the courses. That is why there are special integration courses in addition to the General integration course, as following:

Integration course including literacy skills

For people who never had the opportunity to learn to read and write even in their language, or for people who do not know the Roman alphabet.

Integration course for women

In which mothers will additionally learn more about what their children learn in kindergarten or school, in order to be able to assist them with homework and educate them better.

Integration course for young adults

For people under the age of 27, in order to give them information on school and training, work and career, family, healthcare, culture etc.

Catch-up course

For people who have been living in Germany for years now but did not have the chance to learn German so far.

Intensive course

For fast learners who are capable to reach the B1 level within 400 hours of language instruction and 30 hours on the orientation course.

Applying for an integration course

In order to be able to attend any of these courses, if you are a non-EU citizen you will have to go to the local foreigners’ registration office nearest to your home in Germany, and obtain there a certificate called Berechtigungsschein, which permits you to attend an integration course. Whereas, nationals of the European Union member states should contact the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Germany, so they can apply for a place in an integration course.

After that, you will need to find a course provider, which is called Kurstraeger in German. You can search for them using the online information system of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

After you find the provider close to your home, contact them through phone, email or in person, and they will assist you in selecting the right course for you. They will also inform you about the details on the course, as the number of hours, schedule, cost etc.

Costs of integration courses

When it comes to the costs of an integration course, the Residence Act sets out a various rules, depending on which you will have to make a contribution in the costs of the classes in German language and orientation.

Foreign nationals with residence titles issued before 2005

If you have obtained your residence title before 1 January 2005, and you need to attend an integration course then you will have to pay an amount of 1.95 euros for the integration course. However, if you registered the course before 1 July 2016, then you will need to pay only 1.55 euros per lesson. Whereas, if you receive unemployment benefit or social assistance, then you can apply for free German language classes.

Foreign nationals with residence titles issued from 2005 onwards

If you obtained your German residence title from 1 January 2005 and onwards, and you need to attend a German language course then you will have to pay 1.95 euros per each lesson. However, if you registered the course before 1 July 2016, then you will need to pay only 1.55 euros per lesson. You can as well apply for exemption from the costs if you receive unemployment benefit or social assistance.

Ethnic German resettlers

Ethnic German resettlers, their spouse and children are entitled to attend free German language course, if they were admitted into Germany from 1 January 2005 and onwards. On the other hand, if you have been admitted into Germany before this date, then you are entitled to attend free Germany integration courses. In certain circumstances, you may as well receive an allowance on travel expenses.

EU citizens

If you are a citizen of one of the EU member states, and you wish to learn German in Germany, then you can attend the German integration courses. You will still need to pay 1.95 per lesson. In case you have been enrolled in your integration course before 1 July, 2016, then you will have to pay a lower cost of 1.55 euros per lesson.

German nationals

If you are a German national who does not speak adequate German, then you are eligible to attend a German language course. The enrolment at the course is free, however each lesson will cost your 1.95 euros. In case you have been enrolled in your integration course before 1 July, 2016, then you will have to pay a lower cost of 1.55 euros per lesson.

Final examination upon completion of integration course

At the end of your course, you will have to take a language test as well as the “Living in Germany” test regarding the orientation course.

If you pass the language test at B1 level and the orientation course test then you will receive the “Zertifikat Integrationskurs”, which offers you many advantages. It also helps you with naturalization, since if you successfully obtain this certificate, you may apply for German citizenship after seven years of lawful residence in Germany.