Navigating Regulations: Work & Study in Germany as an international student
Masters / 3 July 2024
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Master in Management, Class of 2025
Kartikey is pursuing Master in Management with a Global Strategy concentration at the Frankfurt School, having previously attended the University of Delhi. He currently works as a working student in the Smart Infrastructure division at Siemens.

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The much-awaited new reforms to the German Residence Act went live on April 1st, 2024, encapsulating numerous changes. One of them is regarding the work authorisation for international students. But what exactly has changed? This article covers everything you need to know as an international student or a prospective student in Germany, wishing to kickstart your journey in the lucrative German job market while pursuing your studies.

Increased number of working days

For the students from most non-European Union countries, the existing cap of 120 full days or 240 half days of employment per year has been increased to 140 and 280 respectively. It is worth noting that these days are counted on a calendar year basis (from January to December) and not from the date of one’s enrollment or entry, as generally confused. Also, these “days” are exclusively the working days and not holidays, breaks or the gross period of employment. At the same time, it is important to remember that the limit of 20 hours of employment per week is held during the lecture periods (during the semester) for all international students to maintain their student visa status.

The way days are counted is also changed

Let’s skip to the more important part: the new law provides relaxations to how these days are counted. First and foremost: you are obliged to personally maintain a so-called “Working Days Account” (Arbeitstagekonto) to track the working days of your employment. The law gives you the following two possibilities on how you wish to count them:

  1. The employment would be counted as half a day when you have worked no more than 4 hours. Surpassing the 4-hour mark would lead to the whole day being billed from your Work Account. This had been the standard way till now.
  2. Option A: During the lecture period, if you work no more than 20 hours: In this case, independent of the distribution of the hours, over any number of days, it would be counted as 2.5 days. Hence, you get independence from the pressure of choosing the standard 8h-8h-4h distribution over three days for an optimal count.
    Option B: It gets even better and more convenient during the lecture free period! Now during the semester breaks, it does not matter how many hours you work in a week (even full-time), over any number of days, the count would be only 2.5 days per week from your Working Days Account.

At the beginning of every week, you decide how you wish to count the days: either with rule number 1 or rule number 2. Choose which one suits you and the nature of your employment better. For working students or interns, it would be only logical and convenient to go for number 2 throughout the year, but it could be different for students who work shifts. Strategize if you need to, decide, and do not forget to coordinate and communicate the same with your HR.

Hence, with this rule, you can technically be employed throughout the year if you do not breach the 20-hour mark per week during the lecture period and engage in employment lawfully and as per the rules as a student.

How 3-Day Study Model supports you

Frankfurt School’s unique 3-day model perfectly complements the relaxations offered by the new regulations. You can maximize your studies in Germany by simultaneously gaining practical experience in the attractive German job market. With this model in place for the Pre-Experience Master’s programmes, you will get the chance to gather a maximum of two years of relevant work experience while completing your master’s degree. Classes take place two days a week plus Saturdays, allowing you to utilize the rest of the week to develop yourself practically at the workplace.

Other facts worth noting

In Germany, the rules and regulations concerning every facet of life could be challenging to navigate, and working and being employed unlocks a whole new dimension of it altogether. In this article, I tried to make one aspect of it easier for you, one that I had a lot of trouble understanding in the past. Care should be taken to also consider other laws and regulations that govern employment and taxes. Also, do not break any rules that jeopardize your student visa status, such as overworking. Remember, being informed and compliant will ensure a smoother journey towards your goals in Germany.


Special Thanks and Disclaimer
A big thanks goes to Mr. Uwe Humbs, Attorney-at-Law at Fragomen LLP for their support in explaining and clarifying the laws. Please note that all this information in this article is for informational purpose only and cannot be treated or considered as a legal advice. The content is based on general understanding of the laws, and there is no responsibility undertaken by the author or the publisher for the accuracy of the information. For more information or legal advice regarding the topic, please feel free to contact a lawyer at Fragomen LLP or any other law firm or refer to the website “Gesetze im Internet” to read the laws yourself.