Job Opportunities for International Students© Andreas Hermann
International students may take up work in the private sector during the semester or the semester break for up to four months without having obtained a work permit. Students thus may take up full-time work for 120 days or part-time positions (up to 4 hours per day) for 240 days. This regulation is also stated on the residence permit.
Working During the Semester
During the semester, students are allowed to take up jobs with working hours of up to 19 hours a week. During the semester break, students may work full-time but only for a maximum of 13 consecutive weeks. As an example: A student has a job at a restaurant and works 19 hours per week. According to the above-stated regulation, the student is allowed to work for 48 weeks of the year. The student's employer is advised to register the student's total number of working days in order to avoid any issues with the Immigration Office.
Student assistants are more flexible when it comes to working hours, as the 120/240-hour full and part-time regulation does not apply. As a student assistant or so-called HiWi, you are allowed to work up to 19 hours per week throughout the year.
Job adverts for student assistants can be found posted on the Faculty bulletin boards or by browsing through RWTH's online jobs database.
German Language Course and Studienkolleg
Students taking a German Language Course and students attending the Studienkolleg – a one-year preparatory course prior to their degree program – may only have a job during the semester break.
This regulation should also be stated on your visa.
Internships and Placement Semesters
Internships and placement semesters required as part of your degree program are not considered to be "gainful employment", rather part of your studies. You do not need to obtain a work permit to undertake an internship or placement semester.
If you wish to take up a job in the private sector, you may like to contact the Aachen office of the German Employment Agency.
Please note: A LohnSteuerAbzugsMerkmale (ELStAM)/ID number is required to start working. Since 2013, the ELStAM has been issued electronically for all employees whose permanent residence is in Germany. You can find information on this at ELStAM.
Since there are some important points to consider, especially for foreigners, be sure to get advice from the International Office first.
Scholarships, Loans, and Allowances
Generally, it is quite difficult for international students to be awarded with a scholarship by a German funding institution.
Compared to scholarships, which are typically awarded for several semesters, allowances are short-term grants given to students experiencing financial hardship. While scholarships are given to highly qualified and talented students, allowances have more of a social function in alleviating the situation of students in severe financial difficulty.
German students from low-to-medium income families are entitled to receive financial support according to the Federal Training Assistance Act ("Bafög"). International and stateless students are eligible for funding only if they meet one of the following requirements:
- They are eligible for asylum in Germany
- They are granted permanent residence through a parent or spouse who is a German national
- One of their parents has been employed in Germany for the last three years and is still in a paid position
- They were employed in Germany for at least the last five years.
Internationals who are thus eligible for BAföG funding should apply at the local BaföG agency. Students enrolled in a degree program need to submit their application to Studierendenwerk, Turmstraße 3. Participants in the German language course or Studienkolleg as well as students eligible for asylum should apply at the Youth Welfare Office of the City of Aachen (Jugendamt der Stadt Aachen).
Generally, it is quite rare that international students are awarded with a scholarship by a German funding institution. If you are participating in the German language course or the Preparatory Course for International Students - the so-called Studienkolleg -, you are typically not eligible for a scholarship. Usually, applicants who have not as yet obtained their preliminary diploma or passed the intermediate exam are also not taken into consideration. If you have passed the intermediate exam or received your preliminary diploma, however, you might want to apply for a scholarship. For scholarship opportunities of the various funding bodies, please take a look at the overview given on the web page concerned with Scholarships and Funding Opportunities.
Grants and Allowances
The International Office does not have any funds at its disposal to award grants or offer allowances to international students in financial distress. There is however an International Students Hardship Fund to aid students who are facing a sudden financial emergency. Applications for financial support in these case are to be made to the International Office. A student committee decides on whether or not financial support can be granted. For further information, also refer to the web pages providing information on Scholarships and Funding Opportunities. Please also get in touch with the Students' Union (Foreigners Representation, Social Welfare Advice Centre) for further information. In some cases, the Protestant Student Community (ESG) and the Catholic Student Community (KHG) also offer student loans and allowances.