Work - Human figures of different professions and the skyline of Berlin in the Background

What must I note when working in Germany?

The terms of the working relationship (e.g. probation period, time limitation, termination options) are governed by German labour law. Employment contracts can be formed orally and in writing. In Germany, the lowest you can currently earn is at least €9.19 per hour. Furthermore you have the right to holiday as well as fixed working hours and breaks.

An overview of employment opportunities in Berlin can be found at talent-berlin and an overview of the sectors in Berlin can likewise be found at talent-berlin.

Special advice from women for women on the subject of occupation and work is offered by FIONA-Verbund.

If you are an EU citizen or from Norway, Liechtenstein or Iceland, freedom movement applies. Citizens from these states can look for and take up work in the same way as Germans. Swiss citizens must apply for a Switzerland residence permit but likewise have free access to the labour market. Information about this is offered by the German federal office for migration and refugees

If you come from a non-EU country, you require the permission of the immigration authority in order to work.

Whether you are permitted to work is governed by the conditions indicated in your residence document (e.g. residence permit, settlement permit, permission to remain, permission to remain until deported).

If “Beschäftigung nicht erlaubt” (employment not permitted) is stated there, then you are generally not permitted to work. However, if “Erwerbstätigkeit gestattet” (gainful activity permitted) is stated there, then you may undertake any self-employment or employment. If your papers state “Beschäftigung gestattet”, then you are permitted to work as an employee. If “Beschäftigung nur mit Erlaubnis der Ausländerbehörde” (employment only by permission of the immigration authority) is stated there, then you must go to the immigration authority with a specific employment offer and apply for the permit there. The immigration authority will then obtain approval for you from the German federal employment agency under certain circumstances. This process can take several weeks and is dependent upon compliance with the statutory regulations concerning wage, holiday entitlement etc. and upon whether Germans and EU citizens are available for the job that you wish to take.

In the asylum process or if from the outset your residence is only with permission to remain until deported, you are not permitted to work in the first three months from issue of the proof of arrival or permission to remain until deported. A work ban also applies in the period during which you are obliged to live in the reception centre (maximum of six months after registration).

If these periods have expired, you may take up employment by permission of the immigration authority. Here too, the immigration authority obtains approval from the German federal employment agency for the job that you wish to take up. Asylum seekers from so-called “safe countries of origin” are subject to a permanent work ban if they made an asylum application after 31.08.2015. In this case they are not permitted to work throughout the entire asylum process or even during a subsequent period of permission to remain until deported. The following are considered “safe” at present: Ghana, Senegal, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo.

The conditions are sometimes amended belatedly even though the waiting periods have already expired. Ask at the immigration authority or seek legal advice if you are unsure.

If you wish to come to Germany from abroad in order to work, you must apply to the German embassy in your country for a visa for work purposes. Please note here that a visa is not granted for all employments. It is generally easier for the highly qualified, i.e. for people with a higher education degree or for managers.

A visa can also be obtained for work in occupations for which there are insufficient interested people in Germany (“shortage occupations”). A special provision applies for citizens of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia until 2020: they may apply for a work visa for any employment.

However, the requirements for this are for the person to have drawn no benefits under the asylum seekers’ benefits act in Germany in the two previous years and for no workers from Germany or the EU to be available for the position offered. If in doubt, you should take advice. Information can be obtained on the website of the German federal office for migration and refugees. Detailed information is also offered in the guide of the “Make it in Germany initiative.

How do I obtain a work permit?

To obtain the work permit – if your residence permit does not generally permit work – you need a specific job offer. You can obtain a form from the immigration authority, on which your employer must provide precise details of the job offered. With this form, the employment agencies must then check if applicable whether there are unemployed Germans or EU citizens who could be given the vacant position. For asylum seekers and people with permission to remain until deported, it is no longer necessary to perform this check in many regions of Germany. For them too, however, it must be checked whether the working conditions comply with the statutory regulations – wage, holiday entitlement etc. This permit process can take several weeks.

For some forms of employment, the immigration authority can issue a work permit to asylum seekers and people with permission to remain until deported, with no need whatsoever for a check to be performed by the German federal employment agency. This applies particularly for vocational training, for example also for the employment of highly qualified people or for internships if they have been agreed under minimum wage law or are funded from EU resources.

After residence of four years, any employment may be undertaken essentially without the need for the employment agency still to check. However, it must be noted that people with permission to remain until deported whom the immigration authority accuses of delaying their own deportation receive no work permit. The same applies for citizens of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia if they applied for asylum in Germany after 31.08.2015 and the application has been rejected.

You obtain the work permit from the Berlin immigration authority, if the same has made a positive decision about your “application for permission to take up employment”. In addition to the application, you must also submit the “job specification” form completed by the employer and an employment contract or the confirmation that you have the job.

How can I find help to look for work?

The German federal employment agency helps you online and on location with looking for work. For this, you must register there as a job seeker.

In the job market of the Federal Labour Office you can also search independently for vacancies.

Even as an asylum seeker, you can obtain help from the German federal employment agency

Job seekers can get information on current vacancies directly and without registration at the three Berlin JOB POINTS website.

The advisers in the Welcome Centre Berlin and Bridge – the Berlin Network for the Right to Remain can likewise support you in the search for a job.