Eine Frau und ein Mann unterhalten sich an einem Messestand (Image: Costa Belibasakis/FH Köln)

Taking on a part-time job while studying has lots of benefits: Students can make some extra money, gain valuable professional experience and might take a first step up on the career ladder. Gaining a first insight into the German corporate world is especially beneficial for international students. Our webpage provides essential information on all aspects related to working in Germany.

Prior to University

During a preparatory language course/internship placement or a preparatory college course, international students from third countries (§16b Residence Act) may work in the same way as during their studies.

During your studies

While enrolled at TH Köln, all international students are generally permitted to work part-time. However, different rules apply to citizens of the European Union (EU) than to non-EU citizens:

Citizens of member states of the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA) – that is Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein – as well as Switzerland have equal legal status on the labor market as German citizens. This means that they have the same access to the labor market as German students and are permitted to work as much as they would like to without having to obtain prior approval of German authorities. However, please note the effects this might have on your health insurance.

International students with a residence permit according to §16b Residence Act may work for a maximum of 140 whole days per year. This includes voluntary internships. This work quota is documented by the immigration office in the additional sheet to your residence permit.

Freelance or self-employed work, must be approved by the immigration office. In order to have a chance of obtaining approval, the 140 full days should also be observed here so as not to jeopardize your studies.

The 140 days are referred to as the working day account and can also be filled with half days. The calculation always considers the most favorable option for you:

  • Either working hours of up to four hours a day count as half a working day or
  • during the lecture period, you can work up to 20 hours a week, regardless of how you distribute the hours. These are then calculated as 2.5 days on your working day account.
    • Example: 4 x 5 hours of work per week would be 4 full working days according to the 140-day rule, but only 2.5 working days according to the 20-hour rule
    • Example: 5 x 3 hours of work per week (i.e. less than 20 hours) still count as 2.5 working days
  • Outside of lecture periods, you can work without restriction per week. Even if you exceed the 20 hours (e.g., to full-time work of 40 hours), only 2.5 days are counted on your working day account.

Vacation days and sick days are not counted towards the working day account.
You and your employer are responsible for adhering to the limitation of your working day account.

Student side jobs are permitted without restriction and include work at universities, scientific institutions, with the Studierendenwerk, with the ASten and with religious student communities. Even if you undertake a mandatory internship for your studies, you may exceed the 140-day limit.

If you wish to work more than the permitted number of days you need prior and written approval from the immigration office.

Finding a part-time job

Many students finance part of their studies with a part-time job.
Make sure to visit the Career Service’s Jobportal for job vacancies for students and graduates alike and to create your personal application profile. The website of University of Cologne’s Stellenwerk also offers job openings for students.

After you graduate

As an international graduate of a German university, you are presented with ample opportunities of finding employment in Germany. EU-citizens enjoy the same rights as German citizens and therefore have unrestricted access to the German labor market. Graduates from all other countries are permitted to stay in Germany for up to 18 months after graduation to find a degree-adequate position. In order to fund the time until finding permanent employment, international graduates may work without any restrictions during these 18 months.

TH Köln can assist you in finding a job that suits your profile and interests. Our Career Service [only in German] offers comprehensive counseling and specific information events on all aspects related to jobs.

Academic Professions at the Employment Agency

Your contact persons for academic professions at the Agentur für Arbeit Köln will accompany you competently and enthusiastically in your job search. They offer advice and information on issues such as the labour market, career entry, job placement, vocational reorientation and continuing vocational training.