1 Information for our international students who would like to start working in Germany Interview with Holger Esen, bsu Bremen The bsu is unique on a nationwide scale: It is a joint institute of University of Bremen and the Municipal Office of Bremen (Stadtamt Bremen) serving as a branch of the Municipal Office for immigration laws and rights concerning foreign nationals and registration. On the campus of university, it offers international scientists, researchers, academics and students both advice and support in connection with issues regarding their residency. In all other cities, this group of people must resort to common immigration offices (Ausländerämte) and accept long waiting periods. The bsu is responsible for all international scientists, researcher, academics and students as well as their families who live and work, or respectively study in Bremen. The bsu is also a Registry Office (Meldeamt) and processes registration of domicile, change in place of residency, termination of residency, issues registration certificates, passports or identification cards, and accepts applications for police clearance certification. When is bsu accessible, what are the opening hours? The bsu has open office hours. Just stop by! Unfortunately, you cannot schedule an appointment at bsu. At times when there are a great deal of customers e.g. at the begin of a semester at universities in Bremen it could be the case that only a limited amount of customers can be served on a particular day, and, at some point, no more waiting tickets for admission can be handed out on that day. Mailing address: bremen_service universität Klagenfurter Straße (Zentralbereich) Bremen Tuesday: 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Wednesday: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2 p.m.-4 p.m., Thursday: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Telephone: Foreign affairs: (0421) (Mr. Esen) (0421) (Mr. Jahic) (0421) (Mr. Napp) Can I also send an if, for example, I am doing an internship outside of Bremen? You can send s. In order to retain or extend your residence permit, you must, however, appear personally. Your fingerprint will be taken, and, unfortunately, this can only be done in person!
2 For whom are you responsible? Do all international students of Bremer universities have to go to you if they wish to work in Germany after they have completed their studies? This depends on the country. Easiest is for EU citizens and citizens of Liechtenstein, Island and Norway. They do not need a visa or a residence permit in order to work in Germany. They too, however, must officially register themselves in Germany and register at the Registry Office (Meldeamt) if they wish to live here permanently. There are special regulations for citizens from Croatia. It is relatively easy for student from Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, Brazil, Switzerland and the USA. They can enter the country without a visa but after their arrival, must apply for a residence permit. In order to work later on in Germany, they also need a work permit. Students from all other countries, however, should get in contact with us in order to extend their residence permit in due time or to apply for a new residence permit. What is important to you? Where do you see a major problem? 1. Be sure to come early enough and consult us 2. Be sure to come early enough and consult us 3. Be sure to come early enough and consult us Students must make sure that they seek advice in due time. On no account should the expiry date of the residence permit be exceeded. Best is to come by and ask four (4) weeks prior to the expiry date of the residence permit! Do I have to speak German at bsu? The official language is German, but English is ok. With other languages, the employees at bsu need a translation. I am a foreign student. How many days a year may I work? If you are already in possession of a residence permit, then you are allowed to work for a total of no more than 120 days or 240 half days per year. In addition to this, there is the possibility to do student jobs at the university or at another academic institution without time restrictions. Also internships accompanying your course of study, i.e. within the scope of your degree program, are additionally permitted. What is the most important thing that I must consider as a student nearing the end of my studies? Towards the end of study, students should decide what they want to do afterwards. A Master s program after a Bachelor s degree? Or search for a job position? In the talks at the bsu, this should be clearly stated so that the best solution can be found, and, for instance, double fees for issuing the respective residence permit can be avoided.
3 After successful completion of your degree program, the bsu is no longer responsible for you. As soon as a student has, for example, received a residence permit for 18 month for the purpose of seeking a job, then the Municipal Office of Bremen (Stadtamt Bremen) is your responsible authority. For how long can I stay in Germany when I wish to continue studying after I have completed my Bachelor s or Master s degree? For the purpose of study in Germany, international students can basically stay for maximally 10 years. The fee for the initial issuance of a residence permit is currently Euros for a term of up to one year, and for more than one year. For an extension of more than three months, you must then pay 80.- Euros. I would like to apply for a residence permit for 18 months for the purpose of searching for a job. What do I have to consider? Graduates from German universities can allow themselves 18 months to find a proper job. During this time, they may work without restrictions. This has a great advantage over a residence permit for the purpose of employment for a particular employer because the graduates are much more flexible in their choice of work places the authorities do not check if the job position is, for example, appropriate. In principle, the graduates can take on any job they want to: well or poorly paid jobs, tasks that relate to their degree or not, they could also begin a traineeship. This offers them an opportunity to be able to try out different things. As a general rule, students must submit their diploma as proof of having successfully absolved their degree program. In exceptional cases, a stamped and signed statement that all exams have been passed suffices. With this, students are admitted to the consultation hours of the bsu. It takes approximately 3-4 weeks for the card (permit) to be printed (it is printed in Berlin). The 18 months are valid as of the date of the (Bachelor or Master) certificate. For the 18 months, you must furnish proof of sufficient income for living costs (at least 659 to 670 Euros a month, e.g. proof in the form of your last three bank account statements ). The declaration submitted for your studies is no longer valid. In addition, the student must be medically insured. For this, a fee of 80.- Euros will be charged. As soon as the residence permit has been received, the graduate can move about freely in the member states belonging to the Schengen area.
4 When can I apply for a permanent residence permit? You can apply when you have had a residence permit for the purpose of employment for more than two (2) years. When I have found a job and would like to apply for a residence permit or my 18 month job-seeking permit is expiring, what do I do? 1. The principle rule is that the job offer must correspond to your degree. This will be checked by the Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde). If they cannot reach a decision, then the Employment Agency/German Central Placement Office in Duisburg (Agentur für Arbeit/ZAV Duisburg) will review the case. 2. The job offer should be an appropriate one. This is to prevent students/graduates from being taken advantage of or, simply, exploited. 3. The job offer can also be a trainee position. In most cases, the German Central Placement Office (ZAV) checks if the position is appropriate. 4. A similar situation also applies to the amount of income. This too, should be appropriate. Naturally, it depends on the field; IT graduates, for example, should not receive unfair, low pay. Where do I apply for a work permit? As long as your files are at the bsu, you can apply there for a work permit. The students/graduates must then bring their diploma and employment contract and, if possible, a job description in the German language with them. As soon as your files are at the General Immigration Office / Municipal Office (Allgemeinen Ausländerbehörde / Stadtamt), then you must apply for the work permit there. May I start a regular job while I am still a student as long as I work for only a certain number of hours?
5 As a student, you may work up to 120 hours a year. It is important to note that as soon as your studies have ended, you must apply for a work permit! Either on the basis of a residence permit for the purpose of seeking a job (18 months), as a Blue Card or as a residence permit/work permit tailored to a special job. I am doing an internship as a student and wish to remain employed in the company. What do I have to do?: This depends on the length of service for the job offer. When the work contract, for instance, is valid for half a year, this is the least complicated case for you to apply for a residence permit as a job-seeker. In this event, the work contract must not be checked to see if it corresponds to your course of study. As an international student, I have a work permit for 120 full days. What happens when I do an internship that is remunerated? Will the internship days be taken into account in the 120 day calculation? Basically no. Internships that are performed in connection with your studies do not count towards the 120 days. An internship is not considered to be employment as long as a student is enrolled at university and the internship is related to the course of study. The internship is an integrated component of the academic program and will not be counted as employment. Corresponding information on this is included in the ancillary provisions with regard to residence permits. Can I go into business for myself after my studies in Germany? Yes, but special regulations apply. You can find detailed information on this issue at: What is a Blue Card and does this pertain to me when I acquire a degree in Germany? The Blue Card (since August 1, 2012) addresses predominantly academics with a recognized university degree and who have not already been living in Germany. The Blue Card is basically a simplified temporary residence and work permit. It is valid for four (4) years in the case of a permanent work contract; otherwise, it is valid for the period of the fixed-term contract of employment plus three months. In order to apply for a Blue Card, you do not have to be a student in Germany. The basis for the EU Blue Card is a directive of the European Union, i.e., Directive 2009/50/EG on Blue Cards. The Blue Card EU serves the purpose of granting highly qualified thirdcountry nationals stay in the EU in order to counteract a lack of qualified personnel. In addition to your proof of qualification, another prerequisite is a concrete job offer that would provide an annual gross income of at least 46,400 Euros. In such cases, the approval of the Federal Employment Agency s employment services (Bundesagentur für Arbeit, Arbeitsverwaltung) is not required. For specialists in occupational areas of mathematics, informatics, natural sciences and technology, as well as for medical doctors, the Blue Card EU conditions apply provided they earn the same amount of income as comparable German employees in those particular occupations and earn at least 37,752 Euros. Currently, this concerns natural scientists, mathematicians, architects, spatial, urban, town and traffic planners, designers, engineers, engineering scientists, doctors of medicine (not: dentists) as well as academic specialists for information and communication technology. However, the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) must approve of the
6 employment. Furthermore, scientists, highly qualified personnel, managers, executives and specialists have more simplified rules on access to the German labor market. The Blue Card is tied to the employer. It could, nevertheless, be worthwhile to apply for a Blue Card when you have completed your studies successfully. Then, the following applies: If a level of annual gross income of at least 46,400 Euros or 37,752 Euros in a shortage occupation is achieved, then approval from the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) is not required (but with an application for a work permit, approval is necessary).. Further advantages of the Blue Card: in comparison to the normal work permit, you can apply for a permanent residence permit already after 21 months when you have a good knowledge of the German language (at least a B1 level). Without this knowledge, you may apply for the permanent residence permit after three years. Further information: When I apply for a job at a company, companies often shy away from the bureaucratic regulations for hiring international students. What can I say to them? Which documents must the company submit? What do I have to present or submit? For the residence/work permit, the following documents are necessary: work contract (if need be, a draft) and a job description. This does not apply for jobs that you take on within the 18 month visa! Because the authorities do not check if the position is appropriate, the companies then do not have to submit anything. When I have applied for a residence permit for the purpose of seeking employment and the 18 months are running, who is then responsible for me? By whom should I apply for a residence permit? The Municipal Office (Stadtamt). What happens when I drop out of my degree program? then your Foreigners Registration Office (Ausländerbehörde) terminates your residency permit because you are under obligation to leave the country! What possibilities do I have when I am here as an exchange student and cannot receive a German university degree, but I would still like to remain here? Unfortunately, that is difficult: as an exchange student, you must go back after you have completed your studies! Permission for the length of your residence can only be extended when you continue to study in Germany. So, you cannot remain in Germany, take on random jobs or look for a proper job position. I am afraid, that is not possible. The case is different for graduates who have a recognized university degree. They, however, must apply in advance for a corresponding entry visa at the German Embassy, and with this visa, they may stay in Germany to search for work for six months. They also must provide evidence of sufficient resources to cover the cost of living for the planed period of stay, and they must have health insurance. During the time looking for a
7 job position, they are not allowed to work or go into self-employment. Here, other regulations than those concerning a residence permit for the purpose of seeking employment apply. What actually happens when I am residing in Germany without a visa? Is a visa absolutely necessary? Would anyone notice this? That would be an extremely bad situation because then you risk being convicted of unauthorized residence (a sentence of up to two years in prison)! Monika Blaschke, Career Service Hochschule Bremen