Unemployment benefits for expats in Germany
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Learn about unemployment benefits in Germany


The German government offers several unemployment benefits to someone who has lost a job or without work. If you are interested in knowing about unemployment benefits, you must get clarity on the type of benefits you can receive. This article gives you brief information on the types of benefits and how you can apply for them. For a detailed overview of the application process, please refer to the relevant Jobcenters or Agentur für Arbeit. There are 2 types of unemployment benefits in Germany, known as Arbeitslosengeld I and Arbeitslosengeld II (Hartz IV) which is Unemplyement benefit I and II.

Unemployment benefit I (Arbeitslosengeld I)

This is applicable if you have already worked in Germany for some time and have lost your job. If you have worked in Germany, you would have made contributions to the social security system. The unemployment benefit is provided while you are looking for a new job by the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit). The total amount depends on the previous salary and duration of work. To get Unemployment benefit I

– You must be registered as unemployed at your local Arbeitsamt

– You have previously worked for 12 months and have paid unemployment insurance contributions in the last 2 years (with exceptions to illness and raising children)

– You have a permit that makes you eligible to work in Germany or are a citizen of EU, EEA or Switzerland.

The amount of money you will receive depends on the previous salary – 60% of average salary or 67% if you have children, which is also subject to taxes and social security contributions, which is deducted automatically. In case if you voluntarily quit your job, then you might not get the benefits for the first 3 months after your resignation. You can also apply for Unemployment benefit II if you could not find a job within the first period. 

If your period of contribution to the social benefits is 12 months, then you will get unemployment benefit for 6months. Similarly, if your contribution is 16, 20, 24 months, then your entitlement period is 8,10,12 months respectively. Above 50 years of age and 30 months of contribution, the benefit period increases as well.

Applying for Unemployment benefit I

– Register as a job seeker immediately if you know that you will not be employed after 3 months or register within 3 days if you are unemployed without prior notice. You can do it via the website Federal Employment Agency’s website
– Register in person immediately on your first day of unemployment. Take with you the ID card, passport, Anmedlung, Visa/permit, CV, unemployment notice.
– Fill out the form available online or directly in the office. Unfortunately, it is available only in German. If you need assistance in filling it, you can book a buddy in MyHelpBuddy and get connected to experts. After you submit all your details, you will be notified about further procedures by post. You will have to speak to a counselor to demonstrate your steps made to apply for new jobs. 

Unemployment benefit II

This is a basic benefit for sustaining your living in Germany if you do not find a job whether through the first benefit or in general if you are not eligible for benefit I. It is also called as Hartz Vier. The basic requirements of this benefit are
–  You are unable to meet your living expenses or maintenance of family by working or help from others
– You can work for min 3 hrs a day under normal conditions
– aged between 15 and retirement age
– hold a valid permit which enables you to work in Germany

If you are eligible for this, you will also undergo some training, education or integration measures. The benefit is given for 12 months before renewal and it is given monthly ranging between 300-450 euros depending on whether you are a single person, family or a couple, etc. 

This benefit is given if you could not sustain your living in Germany through all other benefits like Child benefit, Housing, Sickness, Maternity or Parental allowances. You can apply for it via the jobcenter and you can discuss your situation with a personal advisor. The application form has to be filled out and attached with your ID/Passport, Permit, Social Security ID and so on. You might also have to show your bank statement for the past 6 months, apartment contract, income, and asset details and proof of living costs like bills.  

If you are applying for the benefits and if you need support in filling the German forms or an interpreter to accompany you to the jobcenter for smooth communication, you can share your request in MyHelpBuddy for free and get connected to native speakers who could assist you in the processes.

If you are a student or expat looking for accommodation, bureaucratic help, writing letters in German, filling forms, assistance by a Dolmetscher/Interpreter for visits, jobcenter or any office, translating your CV, cover letter, etc. check out our platform here and share your request. You will be connected to our Buddies who are native speakers and locals. They know the processes, your language and are willing to assist you within hours.  

If you are willing to help others in these aspects and earn money flexibly, then join us as a Buddy here.




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