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Quick Guide On Germany’s Unemployment Benefits: Applying As An Expat

Admin 2024-02-15


Learn more about unemployment benefits in Germany and how to apply as an international.

In this article, we will talk about Germany's unemployment benefits and how they help people, especially during the pandemic. 

Germany has a scheme built over time called short work (Kurzarbeit), which is to say, the government covers about 60% or 67% (in case of children’s involvement). This short work scheme made Germany bounce back rapidly from the crises in general. 

If you ever wondered how the unemployment benefits in Germany work for internationals, this is the perfect article for you. Read on to find out more.

Types of Unemployment Benefits

There are two types of unemployment benefits when you’re in Germany: unemployment benefit I and unemployment benefit II – also known as Arbeitslosengeld I and Arbeitslosengeld II (or Hartz IV).

Arbeitslosengeld I

The Arbeitslosengeld I – or the Unemployment Benefit I – benefit is ideal for those who regularly contribute to the German social security system.

Who is eligible to Arbeitslosengeld I?

To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You’ve registered as unemployed at your local employment office (Arbeitsamt).
  • You’re looking for work that ensures at least 15 hours per week.
  • You are an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen, or you have a German work visa or permit.

Who is suspended from Arbeitslosengeld I benefit?
A suspension (or Sperrzeit) is when your unemployment benefit payment is suspended (up to 12 weeks) due to the following scenarios:
  • If you quit
  • If you’re fired for misdemeanors
  • If you receive a severance payment (Abfindung)
  • Decline benefits job offer
  • If you’re not active in your job search


How much compensation will you receive from Arbeitslosengeld I?
Benefits will be subject to taxes and social security contributions (just like regular pay) before it’s sent to your bank account at the end of each month.
How much unemployment benefit will you receive with Arbeitslosengeld I?
That amount you receive with Arbeitslosengeld I will depend on your age, how long you’ve worked, and how long you’ve contributed to unemployment insurance before you became unemployed.

How to apply to Arbeitslosengeld I?
To apply, you must follow these steps:
1. Register as a job-seeker (which can be done online on the Federal Employment Agency website, or call their hotline on 0800 4 555500).
2. Register in person at your local employment office, where you’ll need:
  • ID card or passport
  • Certificate of registration
  • Visa or residence permit (if applicable)

Fill out an application.

Getting an advance payment

Urgent allowances might be given to you by the Arbeitsagentur. It depends on how much your savings are and what you own, for example, a house or a car, or others. This information must be real. Otherwise, you might be punished for fraud. 

Arbeitslosengeld II, or Hartz IV

In case you not eligible for unemployment benefits you may apply for Arbeitslosengeld II, or Hartz IV. This benefit is ideal for low-income earners.

Who is eligible for Arbeitslosengeld II?

You’re eligible for the Arbeitslosengeld II benefit, if:

  • You’re between 15 and the statutory retirement age
  • You can work at least 3 hours a day under “normal conditions”
  • You’re unable to meet necessary living expenses
  • You’re an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen, or have a German work visa
What does the Arbeitslosengeld II benefit cover

Compensation should cover your basic needs to survive in society, including:

  • Health insurance
  • Support for children and young adults (e.g. school necessities)
  • One-time expenses for special needs

How long it takes to receive the Arbeitslosengeld II benefit?

It’s usually paid out for 12 months unless you’re self-employed or have volatile income (to which you’ll be paid out for only 6 months). After that, you’ll have to reapply.

How to apply for Arbeitslosengeld II?

Before applying, make sure you’re eligible for other benefits, like:

  • Child benefit or allowance
  • Sickness benefit
  • Housing benefit
  • Maternity

If you still need assistance, then apply for unemployment benefit II by doing the following:

1. Visit your local job center, and bring the following:

  • ID card or passport
  • Visa or residence permit
  • Social security (Sozialversicherungsausweis

2. Fill out an application.

3. Submit your documents to the job center.

4. Provide the necessary documentation:

  • Bank statements from the last 6 months
  • Rental contract
  • Proof of living costs
  • Income and assets

We hope that this article has shown you how you can receive unemployment benefits as an expat in Germany. By taking note of the things discussed in the guide, you can reap the benefits of staying financially stable as you move on to another work venture in the country.

About the author: George J. Newton is a writer at Write my research paper and Thesis writing service. He is also a contributing writer for Next Coursework. As a business development manager, he has helped conceive and run startups.

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