Information for international students

What international students need to consider

There are many opportunities for international students in Germany to earn money while studying. For example, as a waiter, as a research/student employee (HiWi, SHK, assistant) or as a tutor. However, there are certain restrictions and regulations that must be observed.

We have general information about jobbing on our website Information about the student job for your convenience.
Below we summarize what international students in particular should pay attention to.


Students from the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland have free access to the German labor market and are practically equal to German students. However, if you work more than 20 hours per week, you (like German students) have to pay social security contributions in certain cases. You can find more information about this on our website Information about the student job under the point “What is the working student privilege”.

Special legal regulations apply to students from other countries:

If you are from a third country, you usually have a visa for study purposes in accordance with Section 16b of the Residence Act. This means that in addition to your studies, you can collect a total of 140 full days in your working day account per calendar year. There are different options for this:

1. You actually work 140 full days (more than 4 hours) or 280 half days (up to 4 hours) or
2. You work up to 20 hours per week during lecture periods. You can work indefinitely during the semester break. In this case, each week worked counts as 2,5 working days.

It is not necessary that you work exclusively in one of the two ways all year round.

Example: You generally work according to option 2. However, during the lecture period you work more than 20 hours for a week, for example on 4 days 6 hours each. This is not a problem regarding your working day account. In this case, the calendar week in question does not count as 2,5 working days. The 4 days actually worked are counted here. 4 full days will be credited to your working day account.

Attention: If you work more than 20 hours per week during the lecture period, this can have an impact on your social security obligation. You can find information about this on our website Information about the student job under “What is the working student privilege”.

No matter how you fill your working day account: At the end of the year, it is important that you do so without the consent of the State Immigration Office a total of no more than 140 full days have worked. That's why it's important that you have a good overview of your working days.

Do you work as a student or research assistant at the university or as a student employee at studierendenWERK These working days will not be credited to your working day account. This regulation can also apply to other jobs if their content is related to your studies. In these cases, we recommend that you briefly contact the State Immigration Office in advance.

Self-employment or freelance work is only possible with the consent of the State Immigration Office, unless this consent is already stated on your residence permit or the additional sheet.

If you attend a language course or take part in a preparatory college, the regulations outlined above also apply to you.

The regional contact points of the Federal Employment Agency often have job placement services for students. Large universities often have career services that you can contact. You can find online job exchanges on the university websites. A job exchange that is aimed specifically at students is the university job portal jobs.
Sometimes it's enough to look at notices at the university or in the advertisements in local and regional newspapers.

Scientific/student employees (HiWi, SHK, assistant):
Some students work as academic or student employees at the university.
For example, you look after the library, lead tutorials or research literature for professors.
These positions are a good supplement to your studies. If you are interested, you should ask the office of your institute about vacancies and pay attention to the notices at the university.

Off campus:
Classic student jobs outside of campus include waiting tables, working at trade fairs, babysitting and courier services.

There has been a minimum wage in Germany since 2015. This has been 1 euros per hour since January 2024, 12,42.

However, how much you earn often depends very much on your own (professional) knowledge, the professional sector and the regional job market. In cities like Munich and Hamburg, hourly wages are usually higher, but so are the costs of living.

The most important thing first: Don't terminate your employment contract too quickly if you become pregnant!

As a pregnant woman, you and your unborn child are particularly protected by law in the workplace. Employers must ensure that your health and that of your child is not endangered. Night work, lifting heavy loads, handling dangerous chemicals, etc. are taboo. Pregnant women also have special protection against dismissal.

If employers cannot offer suitable work, pregnant women are usually released and receive maternity protection wages. During the period of statutory maternity protection, maternity benefit can be used as a wage replacement benefit.

Tip for international students: After the birth, parents with a visa for study purposes also have the opportunity to receive family benefits (child benefit, parental allowance, maintenance advance) if they cannot (fully) pursue their employment due to parental leave or have an employment contract.

The situations of pregnant women* or students with families are very individual. It is therefore best to get information from the social counseling!
Our social workers can also look for solutions with you in financial emergencies.

Photo: Felix Noak / stW BERLIN
Female student in a kitchen with an apron and a tablet.