Legal Issues

While at University

How much am I allowed to work?

European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) nationals have the same status on the job market as Germans.

Important: However, you should remember that you should not work for more than 20 hours a week during the semester (the same applies to German students). Otherwise you will be required to pay pension insurance contributions. Furthermore, you wouldn't have enough time for your studies.


Do you come from another country?
Then you are permitted to work only 120 full or 240 half days a year. This also includes voluntary work placements. If you wish to work more, you need a permit from the “Agentur für Arbeit” (Federal Employment Agency) and the foreigners' authorities. Whether or not you are granted a permit depends on the employment situation in your university town. You will have less chance of obtaining a permit for more working days in regions with a high level of unemployment.

The following rules apply:
• You may exceed the 120-day limit if you work at your university as a student or graduate assistant. However, even in this case, you must inform the foreigners' authorities.
• You are not permitted to work in a self-employed or free-lance capacity, for example as a translator. If you are unsure about what kind of job you have been offered, consult your university's welfare department or the “Agentur für Arbeit”.
• Regulations are particularly strict for participants of language courses or “Studienkolleg” students: You may only work in lecture-free periods and only with the consent of the foreigners’ authorities and the “Agentur für Arbeit”. Contact the International Office to find out how to obtain this permit.


IMPORTANT: You will not be able to finance yourself entirely by working part-time while studying!

After Graduation

Are you studying in Germany and wondering what you’d like to do once you have completed your studies? Why not stay in Germany to get some initial work experience? Your specialist knowledge is in keen demand – especially in areas where there is a shortage of qualified professionals. Here, we explain what regulations apply to you if you wish to stay in Germany.

Students from EU states
As an EU citizen, you can look for and accept employment in Germany without any restrictions.

Students from non-EU states
Germany offers attractive residence permits which enable you to accept a job which befits your line and level of studies. You can obtain them in just two steps:

Step 1 – Residence permit while looking for a job: You can apply for an 18-month residence permit from your local foreign nationals’ registration office to look for a job that corresponds to your qualifications. During these 18 months, you may take up any kind of employment to support yourself and fund your job search. If you already found a job that corresponds to your qualifications before graduating, you can jump this step. You can apply for your residence permit as soon as you have passed your final exam. To do so, you usually need:

• Your passport

• Your university degree: As issuing university diplomas can take some time, an official document from your university stating that you have successfully completed your studies will also suffice. The examination office of your department or faculty will issue this "Nachweis". The document must bear an official stamp.

• A document proving that you have health insurance: Contact your health insurance fund and ask them to issue a health insurance certificate for you.

• Proof that you have a means of supporting yourself (for example a bank statement or a document stating that you have been awarded a grant)
We recommend that you ask your local foreign residents’ registration office which documents you need to bring with you before submitting your application. Some local offices provide information about this on the Internet too.

Step 2 – Residence permit for taking up employment: As soon as you have a job offer which corresponds to your qualifications, you can choose whether you want to apply for a German residence permit or an EU Blue Card for the next part of your stay. Various conditions are attached to both these residence permits. Depending on what you are planning to do in the future, either the German residence permit or the EU Blue Card can be advantageous for you. If you intend subsequently to live and work in another EU state, the EU Blue Card may be more advantageous for you than the German residence permit. As the choice of residence permit largely depends on your personal situation, get the advice of your local foreign nationals' registration office when you apply.

We recommend that you ask the foreign residents’ registration office which documents you need to bring with you before submitting your application. Some local offices provide information about this on the Internet too.

The German residence permit or EU Blue Card allowing you to take up employment is issued for a limited period first of all. If you continue to be employed and wish to have your permit extended, you will be able to do this without any problem. As early as two years after receiving your German or EU Blue Card residence permit, you can apply for a permanent residence permit – that is, a residence permit without a time limit. Again, the condition is that you still have employment in Germany.

Are you planning to stay abroad for a lengthy period? If you have an EU Blue Card, you can usually stay abroad for up to twelve months without your Blue Card’s becoming invalid. If you have a German residence permit, you can usually stay abroad for up to six months without your permit’s becoming invalid.
Whatever the case, you are recommended to talk with your local foreign nationals' registration office before leaving Germany for any length of time. If you are planning to spend more than twelve or six months abroad, you must obtain an authorisation from the foreign nationals' registration authority. Without this authorisation, you will not be able to enter Germany again if you have exceeded the period of twelve or six months.


This and more information can be found at the German Academic Exchange Service