As your studies in Germany progress you may want to take up a job to finance your studies.
Students from the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland enjoy unrestricted access to the German labour market, just like German students. They therefore do not need to obtain a separate work permit. However, just like their German fellow students, they are obliged to pay certain insurance contributions if they work more than 20 hours per week.
For students from non-EU / EEA countries ("third-country nationals"), special legal regulations apply. These are usually indicated on the visa, the residence permit or the supplementary sheet. It is particularly important to be aware these two important points:
1) The 120 full days / 240 half days rule:
International students with a residence permit for study purposes are allowed to work either 120 full days or 240 half days per year without an additional consent of the Foreigners Office. It is important that you track correctly and in detail how much you have already worked without consent in the current calendar year, so that the 120 full / 240 half working days are not exceeded!
If you would like to work beyond these days, or if you would like to work on a self-employed basis, the approval of the Foreigners' Office is required.
An exception to this is an employment as a research assistant ("Hiwi"), these working hours are not counted towards the 120/240 days. Nevertheless, it is necessary to inform the Foreigners Office about this employment.
2) The limitation of working hours to 20 hours per week.
This regulation is especially important for health insurance! Jobs in which you regularly work more than 20 hours per week are also subject to health, unemployment and long-term care insurance. If the work is temporary (for example holiday jobs) it is possible that your insurance premium will not change. Therefore, please talk to your health insurance if you plan to work for more than 20 hours a week.
Frequently asked questions
The work permit is usually noted on the visa, the residence title or the supplementary sheet. You will find either the full text of the work permit or a short reference to the relevant legal text, for example: "Erwerbst. gem. §16b(3) AufenthG".
If you are unsure whether you already have a work permit, you can also ask at the Welcome Centre.
A half day is defined as a working time not exceeding four or five hours, depending on the regular working time in the company. If the regular working time is eight hours, a half day is equivalent to four hours of work per day.
Paid or unpaid holidays and sick days do not count towards the 120 days full / 240 half days regulation.
Students who attend a language course or study in the Studienkolleg / preparatory course are generally only allowed to work with the approval of the foreigners authority - and only during the lecture-free period.
No additional work permit is required for internships that are compulsory in the curriculum or necessary to achieve the educational objectives ("Pflichtpraktika"). They therefore do not fall under the 120 / 240 day regulation.
Voluntary internships, on the other hand, which are not considered an integral part of the curriculum and are therefore not considered an integral part of the studies, are considered gainful employment subject to the applicable regulations on the employment of foreign nationals. This requirement of additional consent also extends to unpaid voluntary internships.