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Students from EU member states (with the exception of Croatia) as well as students from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland can work as much as they want. This unlimited work permit may also be granted if you are not an EU citizen and you have come to Germany for other reasons than study (e.g., family reunification).
International students from other countries with a limited student residence permit or student visa may work for a limited number of hours and may not be self-employed.
Your limited student residence permit or student visa comes with an annotation regarding employment that does not require an additional work permit: You are allowed to work for 120 full days or 240 half days within a calendar year. However, this work may neither impede on the purpose of your stay - studying - nor may it extend the duration of your stay.
Employment is also possible outside the semester breaks. Only the actual workdays are counted, not the validity period of your employment contract. If the work does not exceed four or five hours per day, it is counted as half a day. The regular working day of the other employees at the same business serves as the measure here. If the regular working day is 8 hours, then half a day means 4 hours; if a regular working day is 10 hours, then half a day means 5 hours.
If employment is not spread over a longer time period but occurs continuously (e.g., during semester breaks), only those days are counted as full or half working days during which the student has actually worked. This means that the weekend is not counted in a continuous period of time as long as you did not actually work on the weekend.
Employee and employer must keep track of the number of hours worked within a calendar year without a permit so that the 120 full or 240 half working days are not exceeded. You must properly document the times during which you actually worked.
Besides the 120 full or 240 half days of employment that do not require a permit, you may also work as an undergraduate or graduate assistant without requiring approval and without time restrictions.
Academic employment includes occupation with a department at the university and other academic institutions as well as collaboration in research projects. Academic student employment also includes work for organizations affiliated with the university (e.g., tutoring in the residence halls of the Studentenwerk).
If you would like to complete an internship, please keep the following in mind:
There is a difference between mandatory and voluntary internships.
Mandatory internships are part of your studies, and they are required for the completion of your degree. No permit is necessary for this type of internship. Because it is required for your studies and thus included in your residence permit, you do not need a permit even when the internship is paid. This also includes the completion of a final thesis at a company.
The 120 full and 240 half workdays without permit are not affected by mandatory internships or the completion of theses at a company, i.e., they may be used in addition and regardless of this type of internship.
Voluntary internships are not part of the curriculum and are therefore not regarded as part of your studies. If you take an internship of this kind, you will need to make sure that the 120 full workdays have not yet been used up by other employment! If the 120 workdays have already been used up, voluntary internships require a permit, even if they are unpaid. In that case, you must apply for the necessary permit with the Foreigners’ Registration Office.
If you have used up your quota of employment that did not require a permit or if your employment does not fall under the categories listed here, you will need a permit for your occupation. You can apply for this permit with the Foreigners’ Registration Office or - if you are a student from Croatia - with the Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit).
Employment for students that exceeds 120 full workdays or 240 half workdays may only be granted as part-time employment. The occupation can only be approved if it does not change the purpose of study and if it does not pose a significant obstacle or delay in completing your degree. The Foreigners’ Registrations Office issues work permits on a case-by-case basis.
The Federal Employment Agency must usually also approve the occupation (the Foreigners’ Registrations Office will make this request on your behalf).