Are you from outside the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area? Then you need a work permit in Germany. Nationals of the EU countries Romania and Bulgaria need a work permit until the end of 2013, but not after that. Whether you are allowed to work in Germany, and for how long, is shown in your residence permit.
Certificates and recognition
Have you achieved a vocational qualification, university degree or school-leaving certificate in your home country? You will have to have these certificates/documents translated and authenticated. Authentication means that an official body checks that your documents are genuine. The best place to have this done is an authority in your own country. Sometimes your qualification may not be valid in Germany. You can check this while you are still in your home country (Recognition of foreign qualifications). You can find more information on the “Recognition in Germany” website.Recognition in Germany
Have you got a work permit? Then you can look for a job. There are plenty of possibilities: you can find jobs advertised on the internet, in the newspaper or through the employment agency/job centre. You usually only find local jobs in the newspaper. But the adverts are up-to-date. There are many jobs advertised on the internet, but they are not always up-to-date. The job centre will advise you and find suitable jobs for you. But you can also approach companies directly. Sometimes they have jobs available, but they aren’t on the internet or in the paper. You sometimes find situations vacant on a company’s website too.
There is also the BIZ (careers advice centre) at the employment agency: you will find job advertisements there, and plenty of information about the subject of careers and work. You can post your profile on the internet there, as well as at the job centre. The BIZ centre also offers a careers advice service if you don’t know what you could do or want to do.
A work placement in a company can also be useful: you get to know the work and you make contacts.
Your application is the first step into the employment market. The application documents are very important. You need a covering letter (a letter to the company), a good application photo, a CV and your certificates (in German). The BIZ centre offers workshops on “Applying for jobs in Germany”. You learn what a job application looks like and how to prepare yourself for the job interview.
Many towns have an advice service for migrants. Here they will also help you to find work and write the application (see Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge). Special advice is available for young people under the age of 27 from the youth migration services.
During their initial three months in Germany, refugees are not allowed to work. This period starts with the date of registration at the initial reception centre. Only after three months are you allowed to apply for a job. However, not every refugee who has claimed asylum is allowed to work. Refugees from so-called safe countries of origin are not permitted to work until their asylum application has been decided.
Would you like to work in Germany after these initial three months? In this case, you will need to obtain a permit from the Foreigners Registration Office. In the beginning, you won’t have as many options when it comes to job selection. However, this is going to change the longer you have been in Germany.
Once you have officially been granted refugee status in Germany, you are allowed to work without any restrictions. Are you a tolerated asylum seeker with a temporary stay of deportation? Then it will be at the authority’s discretion whether or not you are allowed to work.
Are you looking for a job? Then you can turn to the Job Centre. The Job Centre assists people in their job search and can help you.
But there are also other initiatives that assist refugees in their job search. You can find various job exchange sites on the Internet where you can register your details.
workeer.de: Jobbörse für Flüchtlinge
jobbörse.de: Jobbörse für Flüchtlinge
Have you found a job? In this case, the Foreigners Registration Office will first check that no other EU citizen is available to fill this position. This is called priority review. If no other EU citizen is available for the specific job, you will be granted a work permit. The job centre still has to provide their consent.
Do you hold a vocational qualification or a graduate degree? In this case, your documents will first need to be reviewed to be recognised. If your documents are recognised in Germany, it will be easier to obtain a work permit as no priority review will be carried out. For more information on recognised qualifications, see the article on University Degrees and Vocational Training.
Germany currently has a high demand for skilled craftsmen or trained professionals such as nurses. Are you qualified in any of these professions? In this case, you can work without the need for a priority review.
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to translate certificates?
Not always. If you want to study at a university in Germany, you do not have to translate certificates in some languages. Ask. Generally speaking it is good to have key documents in German.
Who is allowed to translate my certificates?
The translation must be done by an official entity. The embassy/consulate can help you. Ask them who is allowed to translate and authenticate. Private individuals are not allowed to translate or authenticate. You can find translators at the Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators.
Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators
Can I write my application in English?
Only sometimes. Major international companies accept applications in English. Employees come from many countries and the working language is English. Smaller firms would like the application to be in German. If you have contact with customers or if you work as a nurse, for example, you have to speak good German.
I haven’t received a response to my application. What do I do?
You frequently don’t receive a reply. Call the employer after a while and ask about it.
Do I need authenticated copies for an application?
Only occasionally. Normal copies are sufficient for an application to a company. If you get the job, you have to show the originals (or the translations). If you don’t get the job, the company usually sends your documents back to you. You sometimes need authenticated copies for an application to a university.
As an asylum seeker, why can I not start working immediately?
Refugees are subject to an employment ban for their first three months in Germany. This period is determined by the registration date at the initial reception centre. Applications for jobs may be made only after a period of three months. However, not all refugees who have applied for asylum are allowed to work. Refugees from so-called safe countries of origin are not permitted to work until the end of the asylum procedures.
For more information, please visit the BAMF website:
Federal Office for Migration and Refugees: FAQ: Access to the labour market for displaced people.