Getting a work permit
All students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during the semester.
a) Students from EU countries (except Croatia) do not need a work permit to work during their studies.
b) Students from non-EU countries and Croatia are allowed to work a maximum of 120 days (or 240 half days) per year without a work permit. The following text must be printed in your passport: "Beschäftigung bis zu 120 Tage oder 240 halbe Tage im Jahr sowie Ausübung studentischer Nebentätigkeit erlaubt." [Employment of up to 120 days or 240 half days and part-time student work permitted.]
If you take up part-time employment that involves more than 120 days per year, you need a work permit. If you are uncertain or have questions, please contact the Immigration Office or the Federal Employment Agency.
The 120-day rule and the exceptions
Students from non-EU countries and Croatia can work 120 days or 240 half days per year without a work permit (section 16, paragraph 3 of the AufenthG [federal residency act]).
1 day = 8 hours; half day = 4 hours
If you work more than four hours but less than eight hours on one day, this still counts as a full day. If you earn more than €400 per month, you are required to pay German social security contributions.
The 120-day rule does NOT apply to student jobs. Student jobs refer to tutoring and student assistant positions at the university.
Practicums, Bachelor's and Master's theses:
If a practicum is an obligatory element of your degree course, it does not fall under the 120-day rule. You do not require a work permit. This also applies for your Bachelor's or Master's thesis, whether you complete it at a business, the university or a research institute.
After you have completed your studies / EU Blue Card
Once they have completed their studies, international students are permitted to remain in Germany for 18 months in order to find a job. This position must match your qualifications. During this time you are required to have enough money to cover your living expenses. You are permitted to work an unlimited number of days/hours.
EU Blue Card
In 2012 Germany introduced the EU Blue Card for skilled graduates from non-EU countries. The requirements are a university degree and proof of employment in Germany.