The Volkshochschulen provide integration courses for immigrants within the framework of the basics of federal law.
A general integration course takes 700 taught hours of which 600 are language teaching and 100 hours are an orientation course.
The language teaching is divided into 6 modules (Levels A1–B1) and ends with a free final examination. The orientation course provides knowledge of the German legal system, culture and recent history and ends with a test.
The special integration courses, for example for women, young people, parents as well as immigrants who need help with the alphabet are longer, with 1000 taught hours (900 language teaching and a 100-hour orientation course).
The Federal Ministry for migration and refugees is responsible for the development of the basics and the educational content of the integration course as well as its implementation.
- Who can participate in a course?
- Who must participate in a course?
- Who else can participate in integration courses?
- How much does an integration course cost?
- Who does not have to pay?
- Which changes are important to me?
- How to register?
The Immigration Act differentiates between
- entitlement to a single participation in an integration course, according to paragraph 44 and
- requirement to a single participation in an integration course, according to paragraph 44a
Who can participate in a course?
- Recent immigrants who intend long-term residence in order to work, or to have their families join them, or for humanitarian reasons or who have a settlement permit
- Ethnic Germans from the successor states of the former Soviet Union and members of their families
Foreigners receiving unemployment benefit according to vol. 2 of the Social Security Code (SGB II) or social benefit according to vol. 12 of the Social Security Code (SGB XII) can apply for an exemption of the costs of the course when attending the course consultation at the Volkshochschulen.
Who must participate in a course?
The public authority responsible for foreigners can, amongst others, require recent immigrants without a basic knowledge of the German language to attend an integration course.
Who else can participate in integration courses?
- Foreigners who are not, or no longer, entitled to attend a course as well as EU-citizens and their families can apply for permission to attend a course, which will be granted on condition that places are available. The Volkshochschulen can help with applications for admission to integration courses during counselling interviews on the appointed days.
- Foreigners who do not receive aid from the Federal Office (and therefore have to pay for themselves) pay a higher charge. The Volkshochschulen are not able to give reductions or to pay the costs.
- Germans who do not have a sufficient command of the language.
How much does an integration course cost?
Participants with authorisation from the Federal Ministry after 01.07.2016
Participants with authorisation from the Federal Ministry between 01.01.2016 and 30.06.2016
Participants with authorisation from the Federal Ministry between 01.07.2012 and 31.12.2015
Participants with authorisation from the Federal Ministry and registration to an integration course before 01.07.2012
Participants with authorisation from and the costs met by the Federal Ministry
Participants without authorisation (paying for themselves)
Who does not have to pay?
Based upon the ability to pay, a reasonable share of the costs
is to be paid for taking part in integration courses (1.95 €
Foreigners entitled to unemployment benefit according to vol. 2 of the Social Security Code (SGB II) or social benefit according to vol. 12 of the Social Security Code (SGB XII) can apply to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge) for exemption from paying this share in the costs.
You need to present a recent confirmation of entitlement to benefits when you apply.
You can apply for the exemption when you register for an integration course.
Which changes are important for me?
If, despite regular participation, you do not pass the Certificate of German B1 (Zertifikat Deutsch B1), or the A2 level examination has already used up the study hours allowance of 700 or 1000, you can apply for a further 300 hours.
The final examination (Certificate in German B1 or A2) is free,
even if repeated.
When the exam has been passed (Certificate in German and the Orientation test) 50% of the costs of the course will be refunded if you apply for this as long as you have regularly participated and completed the course within two years.
How to register?
The first step is to take part in a consultation. You must do this for all integration and orientation courses. Consultations are available at all of the Berlin Volkshochschulen.
Please bring the following documents to the consultation:
- passport (original)
- residence permit
- recent registration card (available from any local public office)
- confirmation of unemployment benefits or social benefits you are entitled to
EU citizens should bring a certification of free movement (available free from any public office)
It will be possible to register for a course after the consultation.
As at December 16th 2016