Student employment and work permits

International students may seek employment while they are studying in Germany. However, such employment is subject to certain legal rules and regulations, which are discussed below.

These rules and regulations only apply to students who do not come from EU member states. Students from EU countries and Switzerland are free to work in Germany and are not subject to the same restrictions as students from other countries. However, in order not to lose their student status in health insurance, students may not work more than 20 hours per week on average.

1. Working with the standard work permit

Tutors and student assistants

Students from non-EU countries are allowed to work 120 full days or 240 half days each year with the standard work permit. The permit must be mentioned in the visa / residence permit. The work may be carried out during the semester as well as during holiday periods between semesters, provided that the student does not work more than 20 work hours per week on average in order to preserve the privilege of student health insurance.

Tutor and student assistant jobs do not count toward the above mentioned 120 days or 240 half days,  if tasks that are primarily in the areas of research and teaching assistance are performed. At Fulda University, this applies to tutors and student assistants who are employed in the university's academic departments. However, if 20 hours per week are exceeded on average, the health insurance status changes from student to employee.

2. Working with a work permit exceeding 120 days per year

A separate work permit is required for all employment which exceeds 120 full days or 240 half days a year and which is not primarily in the areas of research and teaching assistance. Application must be made to the Municipal Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde) and approval must be obtained from the Federal Employment Agency (Arbeitsagentur), which issues work permits.

Ausländerbehörde permits

The Ausländerbehörde may permit employment exceeding 120 full days or 240 half days in the following cases:

  • Part-time employment as a student at Fulda University in the following administrative departments: Central Student Advisory Service, International Office, University and Hessian State Library, Knowledge Transfer and Further Education Office and Central Administration. Such employment may not exceed 20 work hours per week during the semester. Students from outside the EU who work in the University's administrative departments or in the Central Administration also need a work permit from the Federal Employment Agency.
  • In emergency financial situations beyond the student's control, provided that the student has pursued his or her studies diligently and the University certifies that successful completion of the course of study is expected.

Federal Employment Agency work permits

Before granting a work permit, the Federal Employment Agency must determine whether German citizens or EU citizens in Germany are available for the employment position in question.

3. When employment is only permitted under certain circumstances

Students enrolled in DSH preparatory German language cources that are designed to prepare students for regular studies may not accept employment during the weeks their language course is in session and not without a separate work permit.

Working after you graduate

After graduating from a Germany university, you are entitled to a residence permit that is valid for 18 months to allow you time to find a suitable job. During that time you may work as much as you want, however you need to make sure you have sufficient health insurance. The 18 months start with the date of your last exam, no matter when you receive your degree.

Once you have found a job that is in keeping with your academic qualifications, you can apply for an EU Blue Card. For your application to be approved, you need to present a contract of employment stating that you will earn at least €48.400 annually (for some professions, the minimum salary is €37.000).

When you have worked for at least 21 months and have German language skills that are at least equivalent to level B1, a settlement permit can be issued (or after 33 months if you do not have the required German skills). At that point, family members looking for a job do not need to apply for a work permit, either.

Where to look for work

Once you have determined whether and how much you can work, you can start your job search. Apart from local newspapers like the Fuldaer Zeitung, one good source is the AStA's Jobbörse  (in German only), where employers post vacant positions. Online job portals are also valid starting points.

Job perspectives in Germany after graduation

Fulda University offers a careers service for international students who are seeking long-term employment in Germany or who just want to gain some work experience before returning home. If this sounds like something for you, why not find out more?