L01 - Introduction

Greetings! My name is Maria and I am a former member of the SmarterGerman Team. I am a 30-year-old Colombian who married a German.

Like many immigrants, I was required by the Ausländerbehörde (foreigners authority) to take the "Integrationskurs" in order to meet the necessary requirements for residency and later on, citizenship in Germany. This course is designed to ensure that immigrants have at least a basic understanding of the German language (B1 level) and the country's history, culture, legal system, etc.

What is this about?

The Integrationskurs is a regulated system of classes that consists of two parts: language courses and integration courses. You must first complete the language courses until you reach the B1 level of German proficiency before moving on to the integration courses where you learn about Germany's traditions, customs, history, culture, and legal system. This course usually takes about 9 months and starts with a language-level test.

Depending on your legal status in Germany and the state you are in, you may be required to pay for the Integrationskurs. If your participation is not sponsored by BAMF or the Agentur für Arbeit, you will need to pay 2.29 EUR per lesson, with a maximum cost of 1,603 EUR to complete the course from A1 to B1. However, in some cases, you can apply for a 50% refund if you attend at least 80% of the classes, pass the exam, and complete the course within 12 months.

Once you finish the Integrationskurs, you must pass two tests:

  1. Deutsch Test für Zuwanderer (DTZ) A2·B1 (German test for immigrants A2·B1).
    You need to achieve B1 level to pass.

  2. Leben in Deutschland Test/Einbürgerungstest (living in Germany/citizenship test). You need a score of 17/33 to pass.

And, when you successfully pass the tests, you will get 3 certificates:

  1. Deutsch Test für Zuwanderer A2·B1 (which is valid to present as a language proficiency test to get your residency/citizenship permit).
  2. Leben in Deutschland / Einbürgerungstest certificate.
  3. Integrationskurs completion Certificate.

The Leben in Deutschland and Einbürgerungstest both have 33 questions (3 of which are specific to your state), but you will need to show a Leben in Deutschland certificate to extend your residency permit and an Einbürgerungstest certificate to obtain or maintain German citizenship.

How can I achieve this?

That sounds rather much, doesn't it? The good news is that legally (even though everyone in the Ausländerbehörde and the academies giving these courses tell your otherwise) you can actually skip the whole thing and simply study German on your own (with SmarterGerman, of course) and present the B1 test with a recognised institution such as Goethe and the leben in Deutschland / Einbürgerungstest with any of this institutions that provide the Integrationskurs in your city.

TIP: I had to register in secret though, because these institutions will do anything to prevent you from registering for the Leben in Deutschland / Einbürgerungstest without having taken the Integrationkurs with them. So, if it happens to you, the way I did it was by calling and saying I was a student and needed to know when the next test was taking place and that I wanted to register for it. They gave me the information, I registered and presented my test.