Getting a job in Germany can give you a tough time especially if you are migrants. That’s the reason that many people start working illegally but obviously, the risks of working illegally in Germany are so high as if you get caught, the penalty can be so hard to face.

Hard work to seek a job

In Germany, migrants are legally permitted to work but with obvious complex restrictions – 3 months after putting in the asylum application. They cannot get permission unless they are from safe countries including Senegal, Serbia, Ghana, and Albania. However, dealing with several agencies and procedures to follow is so difficult. Still, in many cases, if asylum seekers got permission to apply for a work permit, many of them report several issues landing work. There are several reasons but one of the major reasons refugees face trouble getting a job is that agencies are deferred hiring them due to complicated job permit rules and regulations. Another major reason is that usually, migrants from Syria and other countries don’t have the required skills and qualifications.

As per many experts, including the German Federal Employment Agency, one of the most major issues for refugees in getting legal work is language. Research by Ingo Isphording for the German Institute for Labor Economics, IZA, revealed it’s proven through many cases that language skills increase work opportunities for asylum seekers. However, there are other reasons that refugees get work illegally as according to a lawyer specializing in labor cases, Zemfira Dlovani, she has observed that there so many job offers that don’t demand such a high level of German language proficiency. She also said that the residency status of the refugees plays an important role in whether they work illegally.

She says, “Those who have a chance to stay here are motivated to be registered for the pension, to learn the language and to find a job where they pay pension contributions,” she says. “People who don’t have a chance to stay are probably inclined to be interested in getting every penny of what they earn and the rest doesn’t matter.”

German nationals are practicing it too

They are not only refugees but Germans are working illegally in their country.  According to the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, BAMF, there is no evidence that migrants are any more likely than German people to be in illegal work adding it has been believed that thousands of Germans, employees from other EU and outside the European nations are doing work without a work permit or without paying tax.

According to BAMF, illegal employees can be seen in almost every sector of the economy but most of them are employed in areas including building and construction of hotels and restaurants, jobs related to consignment and transport, etc.

Risks of working illegally in Germany

There are so many issues of doing work illegally like workers normally get very low payments, the minimum pay of €9.19 in Germany. Even, sometimes employers don’t pay at all. Also, illegal employees are often required to work under unbearable, unsafe and hard conditions.

Asylum seekers arrive illegally can be in even greater danger of exploitation. Refugees come to Germany illegally because they’ve been promised jobs, usually end up living under very poor conditions, receiving low or no wage. It usually happens just because of their illegal employment and residency status.

The penalties if migrants get caught

German customs police and tax authorities are all involved in exposing and investigating illicit employment. Employers, who hire illegal refugees, can be charged a penalty of up to €500,000 or even imprisonment in serious cases. 

Asylum seekers or migrants doing jobs without the proper residence title or without entitlement to employment can go through both criminal and civil fines. The penalty may just be a fine for such people. However, it is also as difficult as imprisonment or deportation.

According to Dlovani, “The state could say, ‘here’s someone who hasn’t learned from their mistakes,’ and in that case, they could face prison. For sure.”


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