Working in Germany: the official website
for qualified professionals

Study and work

Student jobs and internships

Many students in Germany have jobs in their spare time. Some of them are research assistants (wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft – Hiwi) in universities, research institutes or libraries, for example, whilst others work as waiters or babysitters. Students from abroad can also work in Germany alongside their studies. 

Like German students, those who come from EU/EEA countries are allowed to work for up to 20 hours a week during semesters. There is no limit to what they can earn during semester breaks. Anyone from a country outside the EU can work 120 full days or 240 half-days without the consent of the Federal Employment Agency (BA). Generally, either an internship or working as a self employed person is possible while pursuing academic studies as an international student. However, it is important to note that any self-employment activitiy need consent of the responsible Foreigners Authority beforehand. Among other things, the Authority will proof whether the occupation will either hinder or delay the student in the pursue of their academic goals.

You will find more information on the website of the Deutsches Studentenwerk and on Study in Germany.

Jean-Marc from the Ivory Coast

"I've been studying in Germany for a few semesters and at the same time I work as a student trainee with a company. As a foreign student, I have to provide proof that I can support myself to be able to prolong my residence permit in Germany.  So far, my older brother in Germany has always stood guarantee for me. But now he has left the country and I’m on my own. How was I going to be able to extend my residence permit? My tip: with my student job with a monthly salary and a valid work contract, I can stand guarantee for myself. It was the assistant at the Foreigners Authority who brought this important information to my attention and secured my right to stay in Germany. The work contract doesn’t necessarily have to be an open-ended one. However, it does have to be valid for the whole period covered by the residence permit."

Employment as qualified professional

It is possible to accept an offer of employment as an international qualified professional during residence for study purposes under certain circumstances and with the approval of the Federal Employment Agency (BA). This involves changing to a residence permit for the purpose of obtaining qualified employment, without having to complete a course of study beforehand (Section 16b (4) AufenthG (German Residence Act)). You can obtain further details from the relevant Foreigners Authority.

Training instead of studying

International students in Germany have the opportunity to switch to a vocational training programme, if they consider a course of study not suitable for them and would prefer to pursue a vocational training programme with more emphasis on practice (Section 16b (4) AufenthG (German Residence Act)). The residence permit must be changed accordingly in order to start a vocational training programme. A residence permit for the purpose of vocational training requires the approval of the Federal Employment Agency (BA) and other criteria must also be met. You will find further information on the requirements of this residence permit in the section Visa for vocational training.

Before applying, ask the Foreigners Authority what documents you will need to submit.

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Please note that you need to apply for the relevant residence permit before your residence permit for the purpose of studying expires

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