In Germany, students may work, but the employment rules for students are very strict. Students may typically work no more than 20 hours per week during the lecture period. Anyone who works more than 20 hours per week while university is in session is considered to be an employee under social security law and must pay income-based monthly social insurance contributions. On top of that, employees cannot benefit from low-fee health insurance rates for students. In addition, working may affect or change the type of visa you need. Depending on your citizenship, there may be further legal provisions you must respect if you want to take up work while studying.
Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland
Students from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland enjoy the right to freedom of movement. They are allowed to do internships, work for an employer or as a freelancer without any restrictions as long as their work activity during the lecture period doesn’t exceed a maximum of 20 hours per week.
Students from other States
As a general rule, international students from non-EU or non-EEA states may only work 120 full or 240 half days per calendar year. This doesn’t require the approval of the Federal Employment Agency (“Agentur für Arbeit”). The level of your earnings plays no part in this either. Employee and employer are responsible for checking whether the allowed maximum of working days has been reached.
A voluntary internship counts as a job regardless of whether it is paid or not. Therefore, each day spent on the internship is deducted from the maximum of 120 full days or 240 half days per calendar year on which students from non-EU/non-EEA states are allowed to work. This does not apply to internships that are a mandatory component of a study programme.
Working at an institute, library or other facility at your university or a university-related institution such as “Studierendenwerk Hamburg” would be an ideal way to enhance your university experience. According to the Residence Act, these jobs, for example as a student assistant (“Studentische Hilfskraft”) or as a research assistant (“Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin” resp. “Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter”), are not subject to any time restrictions. However, even in on-campus jobs at universities and university-related institutions you are still only allowed to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week. Otherwise it would be considered regular employment subject to social insurance contributions.
Self-Employment and Freelancing
Students from non-EU states who wish to work either self-employed, as a freelancer or on a fee basis must first apply for a special permit from their relevant Foreigners Office. Students who are self-employed or work as freelancers without this permit may lose their residence permit for Germany and are liable to be fined up to EUR 5,000.
The rules for students from non-EU states who take part in a language course or preparatory course (“Studienkolleg” ) are even stricter than for regular students. During the first year of this study preparation, you are not allowed to work at all. Employment of up to 120 full days or 240 half days is only allowed after the first full year. This also goes for on-campus jobs at universities and university-related institutions.
There are several possibilities for finding student jobs in Hamburg, for example:
- ConAction-Jobs (German only) in the educational and social fields (a project of Studierendenwerk Hamburg)
- further job offers from Studierendenwerk Hamburg
- announcements on bulletin boards in universities, libraries, supermarkets, shops, restaurants and cafes
- job advertisements in local newspapers
- on the Internet:
Please feel free to ask Studierendenwerk Hamburg for consultation on these topics.
Counselling Centre for Social & International Affairs
Grindelallee 9 (3rd floor)
Phone: +49 (0) 40 / 41902-155
Personal counselling without prior appointment:
Tuesday & Thursday 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
and also counselling by appointment