Working while you study – Regulations for students from non-EU-countries

The regulations named here are valid for all foreign students that come from countries not in the European Union.
These same restrictions also apply temporarily to most of the countries that joined the EU in 2004. This applies to students from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and Rumania.

Regulations for language course participants

Participants who take part in a language course
but do not plan to study afterwards, are not allowed to work.
Applicants who are preparing to study in federal territory and are participating in German courses, preparatory college (Studienkolleg) or a study-relevant internship are allowed to work 120 days or 240 half days respectively in a calendar year. They are also restricted time wise to vacation time, weekends and holidays.

Regulations for graduates/postgraduates

You may remain registered as a student in Germany until the end of your doctorate. Other regulations apply to you afterwards.
Guest academics receive a residence permit for exercising an occupation if the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment approved of the employment of foreigners for this career group by decree of law or if their consent is not required for this career group. In principle a concrete job offer is a prerequisite for the issue of a residence permit.
Foreign academic personnel who aspire to live permanently in Germany can apply for a settlement permit (this is an indefinite residence permit status) right away. Family members who follow receive the same employment possibilities as the foreigner already living in Germany.

Regulations for regularly registered students

Work permit

The residence permit authorises international students only to study. Working is restively regulated in this residence permit (freelance work is prohibited, only a limed number of work days per year allowed, etc.).
Working illegally entails the deprivation of your residence permit. Employers incur a penalty when they hire someone without a work permit. Thus, working without a work permit is basically not allowed.

Working hours

Without a special work permit you are only allowed to work up to 120 full workdays or 240 half days per calendar year. The occupation can be practiced year-round.
Work days on which you work no more than four hours are considered half days. After four hours they count as full workdays. The adherence to the 120 day limitation is also monitored by the employer. When he hires a new foreign student he must have them confirm how many full or half days have already been used.

Working at the University

If you do not have a work permit you may still part-time as graduate assistant at the university or another research establishment, or as tutor at the Studentenwerk. It is however, absolutely necessary that you inform the aliens office about any academic job you are taking up. There are no time restrictions when you work as a research assistent, i. e. the 120-days regulation does not apply here.
General regulations however, do still apply. Health insurance campanies restrict working hours to 20 hours per week and there is an income limit set by the Pension Fund.

Further employment

All further employment over the 120 full days or the 240 half days requires a work permit. In this case it is advisable to contact the proper aliens department beforehand. The aliens department will clarify whether or not a work permit can be issued in accordance with the employment office. In exceptional cases an amendment of the secondary clauses of the residence permit can be made. The processing of a work permit takes approximately 6 weeks.
Alien department in the city of Bochum: http://www.bochum.de/auslaenderbuero/


For internships that are required by your conditions of study or examination regulations you will not need a work permit. This means this time does not count towards the 90 full days or 180 half days. This also applies to diploma theses or PhD theses that are produced in a corporation.
A volunteer internship however is viewed as working hours and subtracted from the 120 full days or 240 half days.

Looking for a job after graduation

According to the Immigration Act, foreign students may look for a job and stay in Germany after they graduated. In this case they will be granted a purpose-related residence permit up to a year. The job has to be adequate to your degree and available for foreigners, i. e. the Federal Employment Office has to approve the employment.
Note: The 120-days (or 240 half-days) restriction in the residence permit also applies for the time of the year. To obtain a visa for the job search you have to provide evidence of appropriate funding. All part-time jobs must be approved by the aliens office. Furthermore you have to pay the regular health insurance premium rates.

Further Information

More Information about the immigration laws in Germany can be found on these Internet-Sites:
DAAD: Information about working and immigration laws:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Information about immigration laws:
Federal Ministry of the Interior: Immigration rights:

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