It is not easy to find one’s way around in a foreign country. Refugees and asylum seekers in Germany have different ways of gaining initial practical experience in the labour market. Many initiatives, chambers and associations, as well as businesses, provide local career guidance. The website of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) offers basic information on foreigners’ rights and opportunities, helping them to navigate the German labour market.

As soon as refugees or asylum seekers are registered in Germany, the local employment agencies are responsible for them. They offer advice and assistance in finding employment, as well as a qualification check for the German labour market. After three months, asylum seekers and tolerated people (those without a residence permit and obliged to leave the country but who cannot be deported for humanitarian or other reasons for the time being) gain access to the labour or training market while having the following options:

  • as an intern, they are the ‘guest’ of a company and do not require consent from the local foreigners authority;
  • in a career orientation internship they can get hands-on experience with the kind of work for which they can qualify through university or vocational training programmes. For this they generally need permission from the local foreigners authority;
  • if people are interested in working in a community service, they can engage themselves in the Federal Voluntary Service or do a year of community volunteer work. For this they need permission from the local foreigners authority;
  • additional practical traineeships, not for the purpose of career guidance or lasting longer than three months, are also possible, but are subject to the normal requirements for access to the labour market. Further information at

Once people gain access to the labour or training market, they will be given placement assistance for training and job vacancies, help for further training, and access to measures such as job application training, where needed. Depending on the asylum procedure, people can also claim additional educational and support benefits to help find work quickly.