How to study and work in Germany

You may want to find a job while studying in Baden-Württemberg. Here are some guidelines.

You’ve started your studies in Baden-Württemberg and realize that everything is a bit more expensive than expected. You think about finding a job to supplement your finances.

Plus, working in Germany will provide you with valuable work experience in the job market. It will immerse you even further in the language and culture and is probably viewed as an advantage by a future employer.

But is it legal to work while you study? What kinds of permits do you need? And where should you look for a job?

The good news first: Yes, international students can work legally in Germany. There are a few rules you have to observe. See the text box below if you are from an EU or EEA country – otherwise read on.

Students are not allowed to work more than 120 days or 240 half days outside of the university setting.

Work permits and regulations

International students are allowed to work on and off campus. You will need a work permit and can apply for one either at the embassy or consulate in your home country or at the aliens registration office in your town or district in Baden-Württemberg.

The embassies, consulates and other official authorities can give you the exact rules in your case – labor law is complicated and has many exceptions so check for your individual case. The information below is just a rough guideline.

Students are not allowed to work more than 120 days or 240 half days outside of the university setting. If you work more than 20 hours per week during the semester, you have to pay social security and lose your student status. So make sure you stay below this threshold.

This also applies to internships – even if they are unpaid. One exception is an internship that is required for your studies. In this case, the restrictions don’t apply and you can work as much as your university and your employer ask you to.

Also check with the authorities about tax payments and social security contributions. In Germany, you can earn a maximum of € 450 in a “mini-job” per month tax-free but check if this rule applies to your situation. You can’t combine a mini-job with other forms of employment.

If you receive financial aid as a grant or in any other form in Germany, you have to carefully read their terms and conditions. Many put a restriction on how much you can earn while receiving a scholarship.

Once you have graduated with a degree from a German research university or university of applied sciences, you can apply for a visa/residence permit that allows you to stay for an additional 18 months while you are looking for employment.

EU and EEA students

Students from the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland face fewer restrictions and don’t need a special work permit to seek employment. You can work up to 20 hours per week during your studies. If you exceed this limit, you have to pay social security contributions and health insurance. Again, the regulations are complex so ask the authorities, especially the labor office, about your individual case.