Working and Social Security system in Germany

Can I work in Germany as a foreign student?

Many of our clients wish to work during their stay in Germany. Some wish to have job experience and some just need the money. It is important that the study is not neglected. For the assessment of social insurance, it is important that the student is “properly registered” and enrolled. The study must be at the forefront and the student must be mainly devoted to the study. During the semester, the work week must not exceed 20 hours. Exceptions to this may be, if you are working mainly on weekends or in the evening and night hours. It is different in the semester break, during which period, there is no time restriction. According to immigration law, foreign students are authorized to work. The period is limited to 90 days or 180 half days (probably from August 2012 – 120 days or 240 half days). This does include the preparatory period during the first year of the stay. Please see § Paragraph16 passage 3 of the Residence Act.

When is social security contributions due?

If during the term, if work does not exceed 20 hours a week, then there is no social security payment towards state health care insurance, the state nursing care insurance and the state unemployment insurance. However, as soon as the income exceeds 538,-EUR per month, mandatory contributions have to be made to the state pension scheme. The contributions are half paid by the employer and half paid by the employee. The same rules apply even if the student works during the holidays, however the 20-hour rule does not apply in that case. During the semester, if a student works for more than 20 hours a week, then social security contributions become mandatory, unless the job is from the onset for maximum 2 months or limited in such a way that the students work only on weekends or in the evening and night hours. During the course of a year (that is 365 days in a row) working with a variety of jobs, if one crosses more than 20 hours a week in total or completes more than 26 weeks, then the student is technically an employee. The special status of the student is forfeited, and social security becomes mandatory.

Mini Job (small jobs) for foreign students

Mini jobs are often called 538-Euro-Jobs. With mini-jobs, the pay is crucial. The income must be below 538, – EUR per month. It is very important that in the assessment of social security, all the adjacent low-paid jobs shall be totalled up. If 538, – EUR limit is exceeded, then it is no longer a mini job. If the study remains the main purpose (main occupation), then only contributions have to be paid to the state pension scheme. If the student is with a state health insurance, then the employer must pay a fixed amount to the state health insurance and the state pension insurance. For persons who are privately insured or persons who are insured through MAWISTA in a travel health insurance, the employer does not have to pay any health insurance premiums.

Internship while studying

If during the course of study, an internship is compulsory and prescribed in the study and examination regulations, then the salary is always exempt from social security. As proof, the employer has to submit a certificate of enrolment. If it is a non-mandatory internship but in line with the success of study and the wages are less than 538, – EUR per month then social insurance contributions do not have to be paid. However, it must concern the first desired degree, an example; a PhD does not come in this category. An internship before or after the study is not considered as a social-security-free internship.

Working during the semester:

If the job is limited to the summer break, the number of hours of work per week does not matter and no contributions have to be made towards state health care insurance, the state nursing care insurance and the state unemployment insurance. This is only valid for short-term employment of less than 60 calendar days or 50 working days per year. When the 60 calendar days or 50 working days late are crossed or the earnings of 538, – EUR per month is exceeded, then contributions to the state pensions scheme become mandatory.

Where can I get a social security number / social security card?

People who take up employment for the first time in Germany need a social security card. This applies to the vast majority of foreign students. The social security card should be applied for by the first employer. The mini-job application must be submitted at the mini-job headquarters and for employment with social security; a public health insurance company has to be contacted. The employer then receives the social security number and the employee (student) receives his/her social security card sent by mail. The social security card is valid for a life time and should be kept well.

This information is supplied without liability.