Landesportal Schleswig-Holstein

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Flüchtlinge in Schleswig-Holstein

© Hans Kohrt

How and when are refugees and displaced persons allowed to work?

It depends on their residence status whether and under what conditions refugees and displaced persons are allowed to work in Germany. Detailed information may be obtained from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)

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Persons eligible for asylum and international beneficiaries of protection

Persons eligible for asylum and international beneficiaries of protection with positive notification from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees are in principle allowed to work without restriction in Germany (i.e. dependent employment and self-employment without prior approval or waiting period). This will have been noted accordingly in their residence permit. In cases in which only a suspension of deportation has been entered in this notification, since the eligibility for asylum, protection as a refugee or subsidiary protection is not applicable to the person concerned, the immigration authorities will issue a separate work permit.

Tolerated foreigners or persons with temporary residence authorization

Persons with the status of tolerated foreigner or in possession of temporary residence authorization are allowed to work under certain circumstances, but generally not during the first three months of their residence in the country. They require prior approval by the immigration authorities in order to take up employment; if necessary, the authorities will also involve the Federal Agency for Employment. They will be given appropriate advice when they register as looking for work with their local employment agency, and are entitled to receive benefits under active job creation legislation after three months.

Should persons with the status of tolerated foreigner give false or insufficient information concerning their identity or nationality, the immigration authorities will be entitled to refuse permission to take up employment. This also applies if persons are nationals of a safe country of origin and have submitted an application for asylum after 31 August 2015 and/or if their application submitted after 31 August 2015 has been refused or if they have only entered the country in order to obtain benefits under the Asylum-Seekers’ Benefits Act (AsylbLG).

Residence permit for the purposes of employment for qualified, tolerated foreigners

Tolerated foreigners who are professionally qualified and have an appropriate offer of employment may transfer from the status of tolerated foreigner to that of regular authorization with a residence permit. Under the provisions of § 18a of the German Residence Act (AufenthG), such persons have the possibility to be issued a residence permit for the purposes of employment.

This provision may be applied to tolerated foreigners who fulfil the following conditions:

  • persons who have completed qualified professional/vocational training in Germany in an accredited or comparably regulated training profession or have completed a university course of study, or
  • persons who are in possession of a recognized German university degree or a foreign degree considered comparable to a German university degree, and have completed two years‘ continuous employment in a job appropriate to such a degree, or
  • persons who have completed three years‘ continuous employment as a skilled worker in a job which requires qualified professional/vocational training.

Such a residence permit may be issued subject to the condition that an offer of employment has been made appropriate to the professional qualification and that the Federal Agency for Employment has given its approval. Further conditions must also be fulfilled, e.g. adequate accommodation, sufficient knowledge of German (i.e. Level B1), no deliberate deception, no deliberate delay or hindrance to termination of residence authorization, no connection with extremism or terrorism, no serious criminal record (§ 18.a.1 AufenthG).

In cases in which two years‘ employment appropriate to the professional/vocational qualification have been completed, the residence permit will entitle the holder to any form of employment.

Information for migrant workers – cf. following link: