Working in Germany - important preliminary information on the rights and duties of workers and employees (2017)

Working in Germany - Basic terms and rights

Links for job exchanges - searching and finding a job


Working with a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis)

Recognised asylum applicants who have received a positive notice from the Federal Office may work without restrictions as a matter of principle.

One exception is constituted by prohibitions of deportation: If the notice is for a prohibition of deportation, the immigration authorities issue their work permit separately.

Working with permission to reside (Aufenthaltsgestattung) or with temporary suspension of deportation status (Duldung)

Persons with permission to reside and persons with temporary suspension of deportation status can be given permission to take up employment after three months. The three-month period starts on the day on which the asylum request is lodged and permission to reside (Aufenthaltsgestattung) is issued.

Before persons with permission to reside and persons with temporary suspension of deportation status can take up work, they must obtain permission to engage in work from their immigration authority (Ausländerbehörde). This is always a discretionary decision to be taken by the immigration authority. The authorisation of the local Employment Agency is also necessary. As a rule, the immigration authority will obtain the authorisation of the Employment Agency, and the job-seeker does not need to obtain such authorisation themselves. Once a person has lived in Germany for four years, the authorisation of the Employment Agency is no longer required.

The authorisation of the Employment Agency to take up work is based on two criteria: the labour market check and the priority review. The labour market check refers to the working conditions of the specific job, and verifies both the earnings and the hours worked. This guarantees that persons with permission to reside or who have temporary suspension of deportation status benefit from the same conditions on the labour market as persons with an unrestricted work permit. When it comes to the priority review, the question is explored of whether the job can also be occupied with persons who are registered as job-seekers whose access to the labour market is not restricted. The priority review ceases to apply once a person has lived in Germany for 15 months.

Persons with permission to reside and persons with temporary suspension of deportation status may not temp or take up employment as temporary workers until they have lived in Germany for four years.

The earnings are deducted from the benefits granted under the Asylum-Seekers Benefits Act. The social welfare office (Sozialamt) with local responsibility will provide more information.

Persons with permission to reside and persons with temporary suspension of deportation status can report to their local Employment Agency as job-seekers. The Employment Agency is their contact and can provide them with advice.

Persons with temporary suspension of deportation status who have provided incorrect or inadequate information with regard to their identity or nationality are as a matter of principle precluded from authorisation to take up employment.




Vocational Training

The dual vocational training

In Germany there is a special way of learning a trade: the dual vocational training system. As part of the dual system, you will attend classes at a vocational school and receive on-the-job training at a company.

One way of training for your future occupation in Germany is by pursuing a dual vocational training programme. Such programmes offer plenty of opportunity for on-the-job training and work experience. Programmes usually last between two and three and a half years and comprise theoretical as well as practical elements. You will spend one or two days a week, or several weeks at once, at a vocational school (called Berufsschule) where you will acquire the theoretical knowledge that you will need in your future occupation. The rest of the time will be spent at a company. There you get to apply your newly acquired knowledge in practice, for example by learning to operate machinery. You will get to know what your company does, learn how it operates and find out if you can see yourself working there after completing your training.

In Germany, students pursuing a vocational training programme receive a monthly salary from the company they work for.

Source and further information:


School-based vocational training

School-based vocational training differs from dual training in that you will spend less time training at a company. You will learn theory and practice of your future occupation at a vocational school, called either Berufsfachschule or Berufskolleg. This will be complemented by extended periods of on-the-job training at a company or social institution where you can apply the knowledge you acquired at school. This form of vocational training is very common in nursing, in the design/creative industry, and in the fields of business and engineering.

School-based vocational training usually lasts between one and three years. It is offered by state and private schools. Private schools often charge fees. In contrast to dual training programmes, you will not receive a salary during school-based vocational training. The only exception is healthcare/nursing where trainees will work in hospitals or nursing homes for extended periods of on-the-job training. These trainees will receive a salary for the entire course of their training programme.

Source and further information:


Dual vocational degrees

A dual vocational degree (ausbildungsintegriertes duales Studium) is a special form of degree programme. It integrates studies at a higher education institution such as a university or Berufsakademie and on-the-job training at a company. This means that you will obtain both a degree and a recognised professional qualification. This kind of integrated dual degree course is particularly common in the areas of business and engineering (e.g. business studies, mechanical engineering or IT).

Dual vocational degree programmes usually last between three and five years. In most cases, the vocational part is limited to two years to make sure that there is enough time for the academic part. You can only participate in this kind of degree course if you have the required entrance qualification for German universities. The first step is to apply at a company that will be responsible for your practical training. Then you enrol for a degree course at the university your company cooperates with.

Source and further information:


First level qualification on the job (Einstiegsqualifizierung)

The so called "Einstiegsqualifizierung" is a good way to prepare for a later dual vocational training (Ausbildung) or even a training for a future occupation.

The Einstiegsqualifizierung is supposed to be an introduction to a job and to get insight into a company. It is like a voluntary internship for a period of at least 6 month and maximum 12 month. The company offering the longterm internship should be planning to offer also a dual vocational training later.

The Einstiegsqualifizierung should give you an insight to the basic principles of your later job. These basics will introduce you to the theoretical and practical elements of the dual vocational training, especially elements of the first year of studies.

The salary for this time of qualification has to be contracted between the trainee and the company itself. Normally you will also have to go to vocational school (Berufschule), for all persons under age of 18 years the vocation school is an obligation.

Target group:

  • Everybody who didn´t find a regular place for vocational training till 30th of September.
  • People who are missing some qualification for a regular vocational training.
  • Slow learners or underprivileged people.
  • Job applicants over 25 years or with a higher education entrance level can only be supported in exceptional cases.
  • Full-time scholars cannot be supported this way.


  • The qualification cannot start before 1st of October.
  • The beginning might be earlier for applicants who finished school more than one year ago, slow learners or underprivileged people. Also younger people might get a chance to start earlier.

Who is responsible for this training?

  • The trainee and the company will conclude a contract for this kind of qualification. The IHK (Industrie- und Handelskammer – Chamber of Commerce and Industry) has to verify and register the contract.

At the end of the Einstiegsqualifizierung you will get a certificate by the IHK.

Upon request the company will get a subvention of 231 EUR strictly net from the Agentur für Arbeit plus 116,-EUR for social security contribution. The 231 EUR is for the trainee itself. This monthly salary can be increased of course. 116 EUR are transferred directly to the social securities. 

The regulation of minimum wage cannot be applied to trainees.  



As a refugee, you are eligible to study at a German university, especially when your refugee status is recognised (The same applies if your application for asylum is still being processed or if you only hold a “tolerated” status). In terms of applying and gaining admission to a degree programme, you will be treated just like any other international student applicant.

You must have a university entrance qualification and sufficient language skills. The language of instruction at German universities is usually German. However, there are courses and degree programmes offered in English, particularly master’s degree programmes. Depending on the programme, you might have to have further qualifications and provide additional documents with your application, such as a letter of motivation.

Further important information about studies, their requirements, funding and financial aids, advising services etc. you can find here: or




Voluntary Internship

A voluntary internship is a good opportunity to gain insight into a company/organisation and to get to know requirements and tasks of certain professions as well as to collect first occupational experiences.

Interns are normally persons who like to enhance their acquired skills or competences that are still to acquire in a practical application in a company/organisation to prepare for a future job, vocational training or studies.

To make a voluntary internship for occupational orientation or occupational reorientation you need the permission pf the Ausländerbehörde. A internship for occupational (re)orientation is not subject of the minimum wage in Germany and is allowed to last maximum 3 months.


A voluntary internship can be made after 3 months registered stay in Germany. It has to conform the legal regulations concerning e.g. working hours and employee's breaks. 

You have to distinguish a internship from a pure hospitation (work shadowing). In a hospitation you are only a guest in the company/organisation and you watch only. Therefor no permission by the Ausländerbehörde is needed.


Recognition of foreign professional qualifications

Some professions in Germany are "regulated". "Regulated" means that you may not work in the profession without a state-administered licence and without your qualification being recognised. In Germany, professions in the health and education sectors (e.g. doctor, nurse or teacher) are regulated. In addition, special rules apply to some professions for self-employment (e.g. baker or hairdresser). However, in non-regulated professions you do not require official recognition of your qualification in order to work (for example as an employee in retail or as an IT specialist). In these sectors you can apply on the job market without an assessment of your qualification. Having your qualifications checked can still be useful, as it will allow the employer to appreciate your qualifications better.

Further information, hotline:

Source and flyer:


Counselling for the recognition of foreign professional qualification at VHS Ennepe-Ruhr Süd

The specialist counselling of VHS Ennepe-Ruhr-Süd

  • informs about the legal requirements and opportunities and about the procedure of the recognition
  • supports the preparation of the application for the responsible certification authority
  • accompanies the applicant in the process
  • evaluates and explains the official notifications and requirements for professional practice
  • gives advices for the improvement of the job situation
  • helps to find necessary qualification measures
  • informs about possible financing options
  • is not a legal advice service or job agency

Framework Conditions

  • The counselling service is free of charge.
  • The counselling service can be used maximum 9 hours, which can be distributed into several appointments.

Here you find the contact persons.



You find further information at the Information portal of the federal government for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications.

App "Anerkennung in Deutschland: This app explains how to get your professional qualifications recognised in Germany.
Android, iOS, Windows

Federal Employment Agency

The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit - BA) is the largest provider of labour market services in Germany. It has a network of more than 700 agencies and branch offices nationwide. Our most important tasks are job and training placement, career counselling and providing benefits replacing employment income such as unemployment benefit and insolvency payments. The Family Benefits Office (Familienkasse), which provides child benefit, is also part of the Federal Employment Agency.

Source and further information:


Counselling service for asylum seekers

Visitor's Address
Viktoriastr. 20
58332 Schwelm

Tel: 0800 4 5555 00 (Arbeitnehmer)*
(Dieser Anruf ist für Sie kostenfrei.)

Postal address
Agentur für Arbeit Hagen
58080 Hagen


Well informed to the goal - Vocational Information Center (BiZ)

Besuchen Sie das Berufsinformationszentrum, um sich über alle Berufe in Deutschland zu informieren.

Agentur für Arbeit Hagen
Körnerstr. 98-100
58095 Hagen

If you make an appointment at the Arbeitsagentur, it is good to have a CV, your ID, your certificates and this filled out competence questionnaire with you.