Today I want to write about working as a foreign student in Germany.
Students who do not come from the EU or the EEA
Since August 2012, international students who are not from the EU or the EEA have been allowed to work 120 full or 240 half days per year. You do not need the approval of the employment agency, the German central authority. However, international students who do not come from the EU are not allowed to become self-employed or work as a freelancer!
If you want to work more than 120 full or 240 half days, you need the approval of the Employment Agency and the Immigration Office. Please contact the responsible immigration authority in this regard. Whether you will receive this approval depends on the labor market situation at your place of study. In regions with higher unemployment, you will have little chance of being able to work more than 120 days.
However, working as a research assistant or student assistant is an exception: as long as the course is not endangered, this can be carried out indefinitely. However, the immigration authorities must still be informed if you want to work as an academic or student assistant!
If you are not from the EU or the EEA and do an internship in Germany, this counts as regular work – even if the internship is unpaid! Each day of the internship will be deducted from your 120-day credit. For example, if you have already worked 120 days, you must obtain the approval of the immigration office and the employment agency for an internship. The only exceptions are internships that are an obligatory part of your studies.
Students from the EU and the EEA
Basically, students from the European Union and the EEA practically have equal rights with German students and have free access to the German labor market. You are to be regarded as a regular student and not as an employee if your job does not exceed 20 hours a week during the lecture period.
Attention: If, as an EU or EEA student, you take up a student part-time job or do a paid internship in Germany, since 2017, you have to take out German health insurance.
Social security contributions and taxes
Every employee in Germany has to pay taxes. The amount depends on the income. However, anyone who has a so-called mini job and earns 450 euros a month does not have to pay any taxes. If you earn less than 8,130 euros a year, you will get the taxes you paid back at the end of the year if you submit an income tax return to the tax office.
Students usually pay lower amounts than normal. The income of up to 450 euros remains free of charge. With an income between 450 and 850 euros per month or working hours over 20 hours per week, reduced contributions apply. Those who earn more in the long term have to pay higher contributions. Students who earn more than 850 euros per month pay the full contribution of 9.45%.
Health Care Insurance
Even if you work alongside your studies, students are usually insured as students and not as employees. Then they do not have to pay any income-related health insurance contributions. Students may only have to pay health insurance contributions if they work more than 20 hours a week. In order to remain free of contributions in the family insurance until the age of 25, the monthly gross income must not exceed EUR 385 or EUR 450 in the case of marginal employment.
As a rule, students do not contribute to unemployment insurance. But that also means that they are not entitled to unemployment benefits if they lose their part-time job.
Working in the semester break (“lecture-free time”)
Special legal regulations apply to students during the semester break. Jobs during the semester break are taxable, but even here students mostly get their taxes back at the end of the year through income tax equalization. If employment occurs exclusively during the lecture-free period, students do not have to pay separate health insurance contributions, even if they work more than 20 hours per week. During the semester break, the obligation to pay into the state pension scheme can be omitted: This applies if the employment relationship is limited to a maximum of 2 months or 50 working days per year.
How to get a job?
In Germany, various positions provide students with part-time jobs. The regional offices of the employment agency usually have a job agency for students. At large university locations, such as Berlin, there are job agencies by the student union or by the students themselves. Often jobs are also advertised on “notice boards” at the university. There are also mostly job exchanges on the websites of universities and student unions. In addition, all regional or local newspapers also have advertising markets in which job vacancies are advertised.