Applying for a work permit for foreign students
The main purpose of a student’s stay in Germany is to study. If a student with a study visa wishes to take up gainful employment, this is consequently subject to restrictions.
As a foreign student from a non-EU/non-EEA country, you may only work
- for 120 full days or 240 half days in any calendar year
- and take on student jobs.
The authority for foreign nationals will note this on your residence permit.
In all other cases, you must obtain the consent of the authority for foreign nationals if you wish to take up gainful employment or work as an intern - even if you receive no payment. This applies for example to
- longer hours of gainful employment during the holidays, gainful employment to deal with a financial emergency, or
- work placements relating to the subject you are studying.
Note: As a rule, the authority for foreign nationals must obtain the consent of the Federal Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit).
There are no restrictions on your entitlement to work if you come from a European Union member state (excluding Croatia) or from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.
N.B. Please note that you may only take up gainful employment after the authority for foreign nationals or the Federal Employment Agency has issued a permit. The regulations governing foreign students are very strict. You may be deported if you violate them!
- for citizens of Croatia: the Federal Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit)
- otherwise: the authority for foreign nationals
The authorities for foreign nationals are:
- if you live in an urban district: the city council (Stadtverwaltung)
- if you live in a rural district: the rural district office (Landratsamt)
- possession of a residence permit that does not prohibit you from working
- the job does not require you to work for more than 120 days to 240 half days
- For study-related work placements:
- matriculation at an institute of higher education in Germany or abroad
- age between 18 and 35 years
- direct connection between your studies and your work placement in terms of subject matter
- The work placement may not last longer than six months.
You must apply for a permit entitling you to work. For this, you will usually need an application form which can be obtained from the competent authority. Once you have completed it, you can return the form in person or by post.
If you are undertaking a study-related work placement, the company employing you will fill out a registration form and a work placement plan. The registration form is printed in the Merkblatt für studienfachbezogene Praktika (Leaflet on subject-related placements) which can be downloaded from the Federal Employment Agency’s website.
The permit is normally limited to the duration of your employment.
Ask the authority for foreign nationals in advance about the documents you will have to submit.
You can also have a work placement arranged and approved if you are a foreign student studying at an institute of higher education abroad. The authority responsible for this is the Zentralstelle für Arbeitsvermittlung (ZAV) (International Placement Service, ZAV), part of the Federal Employment Agency.
- § 4 Abs. 3 Aufenthaltsgesetz (AufenthG) (Erfordernis eines Aufenthaltstitels)
- § 16 Abs. 3 Aufenthaltsgesetz (AufenthG) (Studium; Sprachkurse; Schulbesuch)
- § 284 Sozialgesetzbuch Drittes Buch (SGB III) (Genehmigungspflicht)
- § 9 Arbeitsgenehmigungsverordnung (ArGV) (Arbeitsgenehmigungsfreie Beschäftigungen)
The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Innenministerium released it on 12.03.2015. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts.
In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.