Work Permit for Refugees

Update 31.08.2022

When can I start to work?

You need a work permit before you can start to work in Germany. And whether you would be issued a work permit depends on your residence permit. Here you can learn more about the regulations which apply to you when it comes to obtaining a work permit in Germany.

If you are not a refugee, visit our chapter “Immigration to Germany” to learn when and how you can apply for a work permit and enter the German job market.

Can I obtain a work permit?

My asylum application is still ongoing

If you have an “Aufenthaltsgestattung”, i.e. a proof of arrival ("Ankunftsnachweis") or a "Duldung", your access to the labour market will remain limited. Self-employment is in principle not allowed and to work as an employee, you must first apply for a work permit at your immigration office ("Ausländerbehörde").

Asylum seekers can obtain a work permit if they have been in Germany for 3 months and are no longer obliged to live in an initial reception facility. If you still have to live in an initial reception centre, in case you have underage children, you can obtain a work permit after 6 months- and if you don't have children, after 9 months.  Rejected asylum seekers whose application have been rejected due to Dublin Agreement, i.e.  other EU countries are responsible for their case AND those who come from a safe country of origin and have applied for asylum after August 31, 2015, cannot obtain work permits. You can find out more about the safe countries of origin in our chapter "Safe countries of origin".

IMPORTANT: Your work permit will be only valid for a specific job. Your future boss will need to fill a form to describe the offered position, and you should apply for a work permit. Once both forms have been filled and submitted, the immigration office is obliged to react within two weeks. If you have not received any answer, contact a counselling centre. You can also submit an emergency application to the Administrative Court. On Proasyl you can find counselling centres in your area.

I have a “Duldung”

If you have a “Duldung” your access to the labour market will remain limited. Self-employment is in principle not allowed and to work as an employee, you must first apply for a work permit at your immigration office ("Ausländerbehörde").

Those who have a “Duldung” can obtain a work permit if they have been in Germany for 3 months and are no longer obliged to live in an initial reception facility. If you still have to live in an initial reception centre, you can obtain a work permit after 6 months.

Keep in mind that you cannot obtain a work permit if you have prevented your deportation through lack of cooperation or deception- OR in case you come from a safe country of origin and have applied for asylum after August 31, 2015. You can find out more about the safe countries of origin in our chapter "Safe countries of origin".

IMPORTANT: Your work permit will be only valid for a specific job. Your future boss will need to fill a form to describe the offered position, and you should apply for a work permit. Once both forms have been filled and submitted, the immigration office is obliged to react within two weeks. If you have not received any answer, contact a counselling centre. You can also submit an emergency application to the Administrative Court. On Proasyl you can find counselling centres in your area.

I have a residence permit

If your application for asylum has been accepted, i.e. you have been recognised as a refugee, or an individual entitled to asylum or subsidiary protection, you may work as an employee or a self-employed person without any restrictions. That means you have the same rights as a German citizen in the job market.

If your application for asylum has been rejected, but you have been granted a residence permit based on a national deportation ban, the immigration office will decide whether you can obtain a work permit. Check your residence permit or the additional papers given to you to see if you are allowed to work in Germany.

Important

Before, work permits were granted to people in asylum procedure and the ones with a “Duldung” only if no German or EU citizen has applied for the position. The regulation (known as priority check or “"Vorrangsprüfung") does not apply anymore.

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