The influx of asylum seekers into the European Union (EU) in 2015-2016 has turned the recognition of non-formal and informal learning (NFIL) into an integration priority and challenge. In EU terminology this process is called ‘validation’. Already in 2012, the Council of the EU had urged member states to create mechanisms for the validation of NFIL by no later than 2018. However, the issue has remained systematically addressed by few. Moreover, across all countries, disadvantaged groups such as refugees still benefit least from validation. Yet little is known about the reasons for this – a question to which this study aims to contribute understanding. Notably Germany has lagged behind many other countries on the issue. Germany was selected as the research site because compared to other European countries, it accepted the largest number of refugees in 2015-2016. Additionally, its highly regulated labour market and well-established dual apprenticeship system makes formal skills recognition particularly relevant for refugees who only possess non-formally and informally acquired vocational skills (NFIVOS) as such recognition would enable these individuals to access skilled jobs that in Germany typically require formal vocational or professional qualifications. In order to explore the impeding and facilitating factors in the recognition of refugees’ NFIVOS for use in Germany’s labour market, this study used unstructured informant interviews with refugees (N=7), semi-structured respondent interviews with people working on skills recognition and refugees at the operational and strategic levels (N=53), observations of advisory sessions for foreigners with NFIVOS or foreign credentials (N=14) and document analysis (N=49). In particular, this research focused on 14 case studies composed of seven refugees and seven skills assessment and recognition arrangements in Germany’s federal state of Baden-Württemberg. The data from this study were analysed using Bourdieu’s theory of practice (1977b, 1986) with its concepts of field, capital and habitus. In so doing, it became clear that the biggest infrastructural barrier to the formal recognition of refugees’ NFIVOS was Germany’s lack of an arrangement that fulfilled this purpose in a refugee-friendly way. This could be seen as the result of Germany’s selective inclusion of foreign institutionalised habitus but exclusion of foreign embodied habitus (except when the latter was supplemented by a German institutionalised habitus) in the skills recognition procedures which transform foreign habitus into German institutionalised cultural capital. Given this lack of a refugee-friendly procedure, the study makes inferences from its 14 case studies about what could fill this gap and finds that potential facilitating factors are an interplay of Germany’s integration infrastructure and refugees’ personal agency. As a consequence, it is argued that refugees’ obstacles and facilitators in gaining formal skills recognition are the result of a mismatch and alignment, respectively, of refugees’ habitus with the requirements of Germany’s skills recognition field.