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Work and occupation

After having done your first steps in Germany, another topic is going to be very important and relevant. Besides learning the German language you will want to gather extensive information about your professional career. On the following pages, you will find detailed information about work and occupation.

Access to the labour market for refugees

Having access to the labour market for refugees depends on your personal status or the length of stay.

For asylum seekers (the application for asylum has been submitted) and people with an exceptional leave to remain, (the application for asylum has been denied) during the first three months,it is prohibited to work. 

From the fourth month onwards, the Foreigners Authority can issue a work permit for a specified occupation (prior check of the working conditions).
Asylum seekers from safe countries of origin (Albany, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ghana, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Senegal, Serbia) are not allowed to work if their application for asylum was submitted after 31.08.2015. 

Internships in companies are possible. However, they need the approval of the Federal Labour Agency and also from the Foreigners Office.  

As far as internships for vocational orientation and training relevant internships are concerned, consultation with the foreigners office is needed.
The Central Agency of Foreign and Professional Affairs (ZAV) is a part of the Federal Labour Agency and informs about conditions, how to start either a job or an internship in Germany. Furthermore this department  issues an approval or disapproval. Further information can be found on the website of the www.zav.de.

 If you, as being recognised as a refugee, a recognised asylum seeker or are eligible for  subsidiary protection, you will get the unlimited access to the labour market. As such you have the same rights as any other German citizen.  

Down below you will find the application for the work permit. You may submit this at your competent foreign office. Further information about the access to the labour market by the „Network Companies Integrate Refugees“ can be found in the second graphic.


Vocational training and apprenticeship tolerance

Vocational training

During vocational training a trade will be learned. After successfully completing the vocational training, you get the entry ticket into the world of labour.

It is differed between a dual and a scholastic apprenticeship. 

  • Vocational school is where the theoretical part of a profession will be learned 
  • In the company, the practical site of the profession is taught

The learned skills from school can be directly applied in the company.

Certain professions can only be learned at a school. This kind of education is called school-based training (example: public health nurse, nurse, geriatric nurse, physiotherapist, preschool teacher). Different internships within companies or institutions belong to the in school-based education.

Dual apprenticeship simply explained: Erklärfilm der Industrie- und Handelskammer

Dual apprenticeship simply explained: Erklärfilm der Industrie- und Handelskammer (auf Arabisch)

The dual apprenticeship: Erklärfilm der Industrie- und Handelskammer (auf Farsi)

All important information concerning the topic apprenticeship can be found in the brochure:


Apprenticeship tolerance (§60a Aufenthaltsgesetz)

If you are within an apprenticeship you can get an apprenticeship toleration. The toleration is also possible if the application for asylum was denied. 

In order to get the apprenticeship tolerance, the vocational training has to last at least 2 years. It can take place in school (for example, geriatric nurse) or within a company. 

There are many special conditions for the approval of an apprenticeship tolerance. Support is available from the migration counselling centres and welcome guides. 

Apprenticeship tolerance simply explained: Erklärfilm Ausbildungsduldung

Further Information can be found in the booklet from the „Network Companies Integrate Refugees“:


If you want to complete a vocational training, please contact your local competent bodies that are listed under vocational guidance, apprenticeship and employment service.

Career guidance, apprenticeship and employment service

The competent authorities for asylum seekers are the professional and mediation advice centres from the employment agency. If you are within the waiting period and have the prohibition to work during the first three months, there is an entitlement for counselling. This is valid for tolerated persons and people who are permitted to stay for the asylum procedure. In order to get possible benefits and support for the integration into the labour market, those that are are permitted to stay for the asylum procedure, or are tolerated, should register themselves as seeking employment. This should be done as early as they can at their competent employment agency.

When recognised refugees, entitled asylum seekers or people that were granted subsidiary protection, change into the SGB II, then the job centres are the ones responsible for mediation and counselling.

To find either a suitable apprenticeship or an employment is not always a simple thing.

One has to become active, get extensive information and visit many counselling centres.

One of them is the vocational information centre (BIZ) from the employment agency. Here you will get suitable information concerning a wide range of professions as well as the associated qualifications. In addition you may make a consultation appointment on short notice with one of the employment agents.
Which employment agency in your region is the competent one for you, can be found on the website of the agency ww.arbeitsagentur.de under the menu item: Kontakt/Anschriften der Agenturen vor Ort.

Quite often, vocational guidances are offered at secondary schools for its pupils. Another possibility for an occupational trial are the voluntary and compulsory internships at companies. Please inform yourself at the respective school, as which possibilities may be available to you.

Within the county of Schleswig-Flensburg there is another offer for counsel and support for refugees by the project All aboard.

If necessary, the project offers its support:

  • when starting an internship, dual as well as school based vocational training, work or a study
  • competence assessment, respectively the mediation of counsel in order to recognise foreign qualifications, as well as for language courses and advanced training offers
  • support at professional orientation, job application training and coaching

Further information about the advisory service can be found on the website of the project
All Aboard LINK


Alle an Bord Schleswig Flensburg »

Frau Catharina Wege
Industrie- und Handelskammer zu Flensburg
Heinrichstraße 28-34
24937 Flensburg

Telefon: 0461 8063-17

Job search

You can look for up-to-date job opportunities in the local press, as well as in the internet.

There are many job portals that can help you in your search for a suitable occupation with according qualifications. Among others, there is the job exchange from the Federal Labour Agency. You can register there and make up your own profile. These detailed informations about your abilities and skills may be very attractive for a potential employer. The more detailed your profile is, the better your chances are to get an employment.

The regional newspapers are another source for job advertisements. Most of the time they are published on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Job application

There are different kinds of job applications which are common in Germany. A successful job application generally leads to an employment and as such is clearly of very great importance. You can apply for a job at a potential employer via telephone or online. Other possibilities are to do it in written form or via Email. Most of the time it is stated within the job advertisement which kind of application is asked for. Normally the applicants will be asked to submit a cover letter, a curriculum vitae (CV) including a photo and signature, certificates and proof of work. The documents are then usually being uploaded online into a job application portal. Usually the job applications are asked for in German. Sometimes however, a job application is also possible in a different language.

 The job application documents are often decisive for a successful application. For this reason you should concentrate intensively with this topic and get good advice. Several job application training offers are often being conducted by the job agency. Another possibility is that you inform yourself extensively online and take a look at standard examples. However, your application documents should be made up individually in order to stand out in a positive manner.

Recognition of foreign certifications

A school-leaving qualification, a vocational qualification or a degree from another country, first has to be checked by a competent authority, before a recognition happens. Having obtained this recognition will enable you to have better chances to be integrated into the labour market. Tomorrow's specialists are imploringly searched for.

Wether you need a recognition in case you would like to remain working in the profession that you have learned, can be seen on the following website www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de/ Here you will also get information, which are the competent authorities for your profession, or where you can get a more detailed counselling. There is also a telephone hotline for your questions that is run by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. It is available in German as well as in English (Phone-number: +49 30 1815 - 1111)

Many occupations, meant are the so called not regulated professions, can also be performed without a formal recognition of your vocational qualification. However, for a potential employer it might be sensible to get the recognition in order to assess the skills and qualifications from the job applicant.

The most important steps within the recognition procedure:

  • a counselling office is being visited locally
  • an application for recognition is being filed by the counselling office

The following documents must be present:

  • Certified copies of the certificates
  • A translation done by a sworn interpreter in Germany (check the database of sworn interpreters that is available on the website of the Federal Justice Portal and the one of the German states www.justizdolmetscher.de ) or a translation done by a recognised translator who lives abroad.

Most of the time you will get a certification of your documents at the registration office, or at clerical institutions. Preparing and attestation from translations are subject to charges. There will also be charges for the recognition procedure. In certain cases these charges can be covered.

As of late there is a new app for this topic „Recognition in Germanyhttps://www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de/html/de/app.php. The portal is available in the following languages: German, English, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Polish, Turkish, Greek and Arabic.

Down below you can find an info booklet about the topic „Integration through qualification“ put together by the IQ-Network. The info booklet contains among other topics, recognition of certificates.

Counselling offices from the county of Schleswig-Flensburg can be contacted:


IQ Anerkennungsberatung zu ausländischen Berufsabschlüssen in Flensburg »

Frauennetzwerk zur Arbeitssituation e. V.
Frau Nissen
Haus 2 im 2. Stock
Südermarkt 1
24937 Flensburg

Telefon: 0461 807964-80
Mobil: 0152-04400965

IQ Anerkennungsberatung zu ausländischen Berufsabschlüssen in Schleswig »

Frauennetzwerk zur Arbeitssituation e. V.
Frau Oguz
Flensburgerstr. 7
24837 Schleswig

Telefon: 0461 807964-80
Mobil: 0160-8562837

Anerkennungsberatung zu ausländischen Berufsabschlüssen »

Industrie- und Handelskammer zu Flensburg
Heinrichstraße 28-34
24937 Flensburg

Telefon: 0461 806-806
Fax: 0461 8069-806

Migrationsberatung Schleswig-Holstein MBSH 

Anerkennung der Berufsabschlüsse
Frau Silke Nissen
Zi. U1b
Flensburger Str. 7
24837 Schleswig

Telefon: 04621 87-246
Fax: 04621 87-626

Jugendmigrationsdienst »

Anerkennung der Schulzeugnisse
Diakonisches Werk im Kirchenkreis Schleswig-Flensburg
Frau Oxana Wittmann
Norderdomstraße 6
24837 Schleswig

Telefon: 04621 3811-56
Fax: 04621 3811-38

Note: office hours: monday: 8am-12pm; tuesday and thursday.:2pm-5pm; wednesday and friday:8-10am; in Flensburg advice is also possible

Additional recognition- and qualification counselling can be found here:

Professional development

In Germany, professional apprenticeship and development is a very important topic. Besides, having a completed professional training, often additional qualifications have to be acquired and additional internships have to be made. In case that your professional certification was only recognised partly, professional development can make the difference. In the end it might lead to a complete recognition of your occupational certificate. Professional development seminars are continuously offered to keep the employees up-to date.

There is a number of different qualification- and professional development possibilities:

  • courses and seminars
  • conversion programs
  • study (distance learning)
  • online portals

The Federal Labour Agency of Germany, local Job Centres as well as several institutions for professional development, are mainly responsible for this topic.

The following institutions offer occupational counselling concerning professional development: Many advanced technical colleges, universities, migration counselling offices as well as the IQ-Network organisation (support programme „Integration through Qualification“).

Down below is the up-to-date flyer made by the IQ-Network:


IQ Qualifizierungsberatung »

Umwelt Technik Soziales e. V.
Frau Edibe Oguz
Flensburger Str. 7
24837 Schleswig

Telefon: Tel.: 0157-53617135

Skilled employees immigration act

The Skilled Employees Immigration Act has become effective since 1st March 2020.This act opens up the German labour market for all skilled employees, originating from other countries. Meant are university graduates and people with a completed vocational training.

Until now, skilled workers from non European countries, had only an unlimited access to the German labour market if they were in possession of an academic degree. In the future, a work permit can also be issued for skilled workers with a foreign vocational qualification for all professions. These qualified people can get a visa or a residence permit that enables them to start an employment in Germany. The limitation on bottleneck professions has been cancelled. This way, the German labour market is completely accessible for all people with an approved and certified vocational training and not only for academics.

In order that a skilled worker is able to stay in Germany long-term, a specific job offer is required. Additionally the vocational qualification has to be approved. For skilled workers there is no priority review any more. However, in case the labour market deteriorates, the priority review can be reinstated on short notice.

In addition, the new act enables the entry into Germany for the duration of six months, in order to search for work and vocational training. An approved qualification, necessary knowledge of the German language (at least on B1 Level) and secured living standards are required. During the search, a trial period of work of up to 10 hours per week, may be performed in the aspired profession. This facilitates internships at a potential employer. As before, skilled workers with an academic degree are allowed to enter the country for 6 months, in order to search for employment. In the future, they are also allowed to perform a trial period of work up to a maximum of 10 hours per week in the aspired occupation. There is no need to prove any language skills.

Further information concerning the act can be found on website from the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs.

A simple explanation video made by „Make it in Germany“ concerning the law „Skilled Workers Immigration Act“ can be found online.

When searching for a job or an apprenticeship from abroad, the following institutions may be of help to you:

 Make it in Germany: This is the information portal by the Federal Government for skilled workers from abroad.

International staff service North from the Federal Labour Agency: zav-ips-nord@arbeitsagentur.de 

Business start-up and self-employment

Business start-up means the founding of a company, spoken in other words, the launching of self employment.

Finances play a very important role at a business start-up. Counselling which is expedient as well as an exact preparation, may be able to minimise the financial risk for the company. In order to support the potential starters with good ideas effectively, federal subsidies may be applied for.

You can find additional information, in more than one language if needed, on the website from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, the portal for business start-ups.

The German Trade union Confederation has put together information about (bogus) self-employment in multiple languages.

Down below you can find the detailed flyers.

Labour law: Working hours, vacation, illness, notice

Working hours

The working hours Act regulates and sets the framework from shift work to breaks for employees.

Who ever takes over a full-time Job, has to calculate with working hours, that range between 37,5 and 40 hours per week. It is also possible to work part-time. The maximum working time that is statutory allowed is limited to an average of 48 hours. Generally you work from Monday to Friday. It is permissible by law to work on all business days of the week (Monday to Saturday) as well as during night- and shift work. In many areas, like for instance in healthcare, catering and in transportation companies, working is also allowed during Sunday’s and public holidays.

The Working Hours act takes care of the security and health protection of the employees: According to this act it is obligatory to make a break of at least 30 minutes when working for 6 hours. From a working time of 9 hours onwards the break time increases to 45 minutes.


Every employee has the right to have vacation! That's the way the Federal Vacation Act (BurlG) is phrased. After having been employed for six months in a company, employees are entitled to the full statutory vacation. Entitlement to at least 4 weeks of vacation has an employee who has worked 5 to 6 days a week. The Federal Vacation Act specifies 24 work days, however, it also counts Saturday as being a work day. Who ever works 5 days a week has as such an entitlement to 20 days of vacation.


You have to report in immediately if you are ill and cannot work. However, a sick note from a physician has to be presented, not later than on the fourth day of the absence.

The full salary is paid by the employer for illnesses that lasts 6 weeks. For illnesses that last longer, the sick benefit (70% of the salary) is paid by the statutory health insurance. If you are privately health insured, you have to inquire at your health insurance company. Private health insurances may have other rates as which percentage is paid.

You don’t have to disclose any exact information concerning your illness to your employer!


In general the work contract can be cancelled. The employee as well as the employer can give notice. In both cases this has to be done in written form. Relevant for a notice are the regulations of the German Civil Code (BGB).

The statutory period of notice increases, the longer you have worked for the company. This is valid if the employer has terminated the employment. In opposite to the employer, the employee is able to give notice with a deadline of only 4 weeks to the end of the month or the 15th, independent of how long the work contract has existed.

There is a special form of dismissal protection. This is valid among others for pregnant women, mothers and work council members.

Your can find general information concerning labour law on the website of the Federal Ministry for Work and Social Affaires, under www.bmas.de

Detailed information for refugees who want to work in Germany successfully can be found in the booklet „Wissen ist Schutz vom DGB-Bundesvorstand“ Knowledge is Protection:

Knowledge is protection! To find the Guideline for EU Citizens in multiple languages click here.

Salary (minimum wage) and taxes

The salary (also known as wage, pay) is a part of the work contract. Within the job advertisement you may find exact information about the wage. Ever so often a collective agreement is concluded. Depending of the kind of profession there is an a hourly payment that was agreed upon or a monthly wage. Employees who work in external service generally get a commission (additional payment).

Parts of the work contract and collective agreement usually are arrangements concerning vacation- or Christmas bonuses. Additional income components can be the provision of a company car, a mobile or a laptop, that may be used on a private basis. Further agreements can contain a company pension or special rates for insurances like health- or life insurance.

A permit issued by the Federal Employment Agency is not needed if the internship does not exceed the duration of twelve weeks.

Minimum wage

Since the 1st of January 2015, a minimum statutory wage of €9,35 gross per hour has to be paid nationwide to every employee and every trainee, according to the German Minimum Wage Act.

The minimum wage is mandatory for all employees over the age of 18 in all sectors.

The following groups are exempt from the minimum wage:

  • compulsory trainees
  • employees under 18 without a vocational qualification
  • apprentices
  • long-term unemployed people
  • voluntary employees
  • freelancers and self employed.
  • trainees with a voluntary internship not lasting more than 3 months.

There is a separate minimum wage for apprentices since the 1st of January 2020. For more information about this topic, click here


In Germany, the income is subject to taxes. As an employee you usually get the monthly net amount transferred to your bank account. The gross salary is being deducted by:

  • pension insurance
  • health insurance
  • unemployment insurance
  • nursing insurance
  • income tax
  • solidarity surcharge
  • perhaps church tax

The more income is achieved, the higher the percentage is from the duties.

If you are self employed, you have to tax your income at the financial authorities by yourself.

There are 6 different tax classes in Germany, that regulate the amount of income tax. Which tax class is the relevant one for you, can be determined with a tax class calculator.

Additional information about fiscal law, also available in English, can be found on the website from the Federal Ministry of Finance. www.bundesfinanzministerium.de

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