For international students, social benefits are not accessible in the same extent as those with German citizenship. Alongside the basic eligibility criteria, they depend, in individual cases, first and foremost on the immigration status of the student.
Especially for students who are in Germany for study purposes and have leave to remain as per § 16 of the immigration laws, the claiming of a social benefit endangers the extension of their leave to remain. The reason for this is that the prerequisite for granting leave to remain for study purposes is their having the independent ability to support their own livelihood – even for family members.
Because of the number of different combinations (social benefit to residence permit) the website can only give a preliminary orientation in this field. For this reason, we advise personal contact with our social advice to explain your concrete entitlement situation.
Fundamentally, every child has the right to maintenance independent of the residence permit; this is determined by the income of the child’s responsible carers. Children who are of age have a right of support from their parents until the completion of a first job-qualifying education. For the 6 weeks before and 8 weeks after the birth, the father of a child must provide maintenance for the mother. This maintenance obligation on the part of the father takes precedence over the obligation on the mother’s relatives.
The extent of the maintenance claim is determined by the “Düsseldorfer Tabelle”.
Maternity protection is a wage-replacement benefit for pregnant women before the start of the legally protected maternity period upon the coming into force of an employment restriction (of general type such as a ban on heavy manual work, night work or specific individual types based on a doctor’s attestation).
From this, students with a work contract receive, on application to their employer, the average of the remuneration from the last 3 months before the pregnancy, at the longest to the beginning of the legally protected maternity period.
Maternity pay is a wage-replacement benefit for the duration of the legally protected maternity period (as a rule, 6 weeks before and 8 weeks after the birth), where the entitlement depends on the type of work and health insurance.
Even students with statutory health insurance (student or voluntary insurance) with an employment relationship that is still in place or for which they have given proper notice at the beginning of the maternity period will receive maternity pay from the health insurer on application.
The highest payment is of 13 € per calendar day, while the employer also pays a contribution up to the net daily income previously received.
As for students with private health insurance or statutory family insurance and an employment relationship that is still in place or for which they have given proper notice, they will receive on application to the Bundesversicherungsamt (Federal Insurance Agency) a one-off maternity payment of 210 €. The employer will also pay a subsidy if the previous net wage exceeded 13 € (as in the case of maternity pay from the health insurer).
Minijobs and short-term employment also count as employment relationships which allow claims for both previously named versions of maternity pay, but not freelance work, jobs paying honoraria or paid thesis writing within an operation.
The only exception to this are freelance students when they have voluntary statutory health insurance and a claim to sick pay. They receive maternity pay from the health insurer to the level of the sick pay.
The basis for this is that the services of the health insurer are based on the contributions made and are thus not detrimental to a person’s immigration status. Before a student makes an application for the one-off payment to the Bundesversicherungsamt they should first consult with the responsible immigration authority.
Support from the “Familie in Not” foundation
For those in financial need, the “Familie in Not” foundation can offer support. This includes expenses relating to pregnancy and birth, such as e.g. maternity clothing or basic equipment for the child, or also expenses for the upbringing and care of small children such as e.g. support to finish studies.
The extent and duration are determined based on the individual need.
Application should be made as early as possible during the pregnancy and can only be made at an advice centre.
Advice centres near you can be found on the familiy planning homepage.
Job centre benefits
For students who have leave to remain for study purposes as per § 16 of the immigration laws, the services of the job centre are not at all available, as they can endanger their leave to remain. Leave to remain is granted based on the assumption that those receiving it can support themselves. This excludes them from benefits to support their livelihood. One exception to this is contained in the administrative regulations of the immigration laws. According to these, temporary use of individual aids is possible in rare exceptional cases. Here explicitly the example of student pregnancy is mentioned. Prior consultation with the responsible immigration authority is urgently required in this case.
If the child has German citizenship, the residence permit can be updated. Upon a change to § 28 “Family reunification with a German citizen” legal claims can be made; § 16 of the immigration law does not prohibit such a change of purpose. This requires that the ordinary place of residence of the child is in Germany and that personal care (Personensorge) is exercised. If the child does not live in the parent’s household and personal care is granted then it depends on the actual extent of family life lived (visits, maintenance payments etc.). The new residence permit allows the use of all social services in Germany without detriment to the leave to remain.
The fundamental rule for job centre benefits: Students whose study is eligible for support according to the Federal Education Support Law (BAföG) and who do not live in their parental home have no claim to livelihood support benefits as per the Sozialgesetzbuch II (Social Security Statutes).
This exclusion is not valid in the case of semesters taken off for pregnancy and / or child-raising (also by the studying father), as in this case the party would not be in BAföG-supported education.
Thus, students taking a semester off can, if fulfilling the further requirements for making a claim, receive standard maintenance and housing benefits. They will also receive health insurance via the job centre. Especially important in this regard: no official study may be carried out!
The student exception does not include the additional needs for pregnant women and single parents, nor the one-off benefits for pregnancy and birth, inasmuch as these are not covered by the income or assets to be taken into consideration. These can thus also be drawn by those who are regularly enrolled and studying or are carrying out academic work during a vacant semester.
A note of caution: drawing additional payments alone does not lead to the financing of health insurance via this benefit.
Likewise, not included in the exception are family members who are not in education. The standard benefit for children under 15 years is called Sozialgeld and is limited to the child support payment, maintenance advances if necessary and other child income. Also, the job centre takes over the family members’ share of the rent.
In cases of particular hardship, students can receive support benefits as a loan. This can only occur in very exceptional cases, e.g. to pay for a studying single parent to finish their studies.
The previously mentioned benefits as per the Sozialgesetzbuch II can be applied for at the responsible job centre.
A claim for housing benefit can occur when a child living in the household of a student couple receiving BAföG payments, which would normally be excluded from housing benefits, makes such a claim.This is even the case when the child of his/her own accord is excluded from drawing housing benefits as part of its Sozialgeld from the job centre – in this case only the parents receive housing benefits. The given example also applies to single parents. Housing benefit is a social benefit and is thus not available to students who have leave to remain for study purposes in Germany (§ 16 AufenthG). Housing benefit, however, is not detrimental to immigration status when the person's livelihood is already guaranteed without drawing housing benefits. Housing benefit is a state subsidy for the costs of personal living space. In the following situations, students may find they can make a claim for housing benefits: If payments are unavailable as per BAföG.
- That is, when a BAföG refusal has had nothing to do with the calculation of income and assets
- If BAföG benefits are only approved as a full loan
- If the students’ household requiring housing benefits also contains people who are not pursuing a course of study (e.g. children of the students, life partners or parents)
Only if one of the described situations applies is it worth applying for housing benefit.
Housing benefit is paid as a grant. The requirement is that you can defray the cost of living and future housing benefit with other income or assets. If this is not the case, no housing benefit will be paid. The extent of the housing benefit depends on the rent on the apartment, the number of people living in the household and income.
Experience shows that housing benefit can fill out a financing strategy; however, student financing can never be built exclusively on housing benefit.
Housing benefit can be applied for at the responsible housing benefit office.
BAföG continues to be paid up to the end of the third calendar month, even if you are prevented because of pregnancy from continuing to study. This does not apply, however, to semesters spent on leave, as the recipient is then no longer in BAföG-eligible education.
Receivers of BAföG with their own child/children under 10 years in a household receive, if they apply for it, a childcare supplement to the amount of 130 € per child per month as a non-repayable full grant. If both parents are BAföG recipients, only one of them will receive this grant.
Reasons such as pregnancy or childcare and -raising justify the payment of BAföG beyond the maximum support duration if pregnancy or childcare are the original cause of the delay. This benefit is also paid as a non-repayable full grant. If the delay occurred already before presentation of proof of achievement, this presentation can be made later, instead of at the beginning of the fifth semester.
During means testing the allowance for each child of the students rises to 520 €, while other income may reduce the allowance.
Child benefits and child-support supplement
Studying parents from member states of the EU, EEA and Switzerland have the same entitlement to child benefit as Germans if they live and work in Germany.
Students with leave to remain for study purposes as per § 16 AufenthG normally have no right to child benefit. There are a few exceptions, however:
- Students from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo can obtain child benefit if they are in insurable employment
- Students from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia if they are compulsory members of statutory health insurance
- Students from Turkey have a right to claim child benefit if they are compulsory members of statutory health insurance or have lived more than six months in Germany
- International students who have either a permanent residence permit or leave to remain for commercial purposes. For certain residence permits, however, a minimum stay of three years while in employment is a requirement.
- Students with particular humanitarian residence permits
This list is not exhaustive. If in doubt, please seek advice.
On the birth of a child with German citizenship, students with leave to remain for study purposes have the option of changing their residence status. In this case also, entitlement to child benefit can result.
Child benefit is allowed for parents who have their residence or are ordinarily domiciled in Germany.
For the 1st and 2nd child the sum is of 204 €, for the 3rd 210 € and for every further child 235 €.
The child benefit is paid up to the child’s 18th birthday independent of income, and continues:
- To the 21st birthday if by then the child is not in employment or registered as job-seeking at a job agency, or
- Until the 25th birthday if the child is in education.
The child-support supplement is intended to support parents on low incomes so that they can cover their families’ needs and do not need to apply for benefits from the job centre.
Single parents and couples have an entitlement to the child-support supplement of up to 170 € a month for the children living in their household if these are drawing child benefit and the parental income does not fall below a fixed lower limit (gross, without housing benefit and child benefit: 600 € for single parents; 900 € for couples) and does not exceed an individually calculated upper limit.
Applications for child benefit and child-support supplements must be made at the Familienkasse of the employment agency responsible for the parents’ place of residence.
If one parental unit pays no or insufficient support, a child being raised by a single parent can be entitled to maintenance advances.
Here students from EU member states, the EEA and Switzerland who are resident in Germany have the same entitlement as Germans.
Students with leave to remain for study purposes normally have no entitlement to maintenance advances. There are exceptions for students from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. They are entitled to maintenance advances when they are a compulsory member of a statutory health insurer.
Citizens of other third-party states can only make a valid claim for maintenance advances when they have a right to permanent residence or a residence permit allowing long-term commercial activity. For certain residence permits a stay in Germany of at least three years while in simultaneous employment is required.
For maintenance advances it is irrelevant what income or assets the parental unit entitled to the maintenance possesses. Such a claim is, however, not allowed when both parents live together or when the single parent has remarried or is not prepared to contribute to determining the paternity or whereabouts of the other parental unit.
The maintenance advance consists of 160 € to the 6th birthday, 212 € to the 12th birthday and 282 € to the 18th birthday (valid for 2019).
The application is made to the responsible local youth welfare office (Jugendamt) in the place of residence of the child.
The state parental benefit is on the one hand a wage-replacement benefit, on the other a social benefit.
- As a wage-replacement benefit, parental benefit is designed to replace the loss of earnings when no or no full employment (to max. 30 h / week) is pursued. Study does not have to be reduced in scope or interrupted.
- As a social benefit, parental benefit is paid up to a minimum level when in the past no or very low income has been achieved.
Students from the EU, the EEA and Switzerland have entitlement to parental benefits when they are resident in Germany, the child lives in their household and they are caring for and raising the child themselves.
Students with leave to remain for study purposes normally have no entitlement to parental benefit. If students have a permanent residence permit or leave to remain for commercial purposes they can also receive this parental benefit. For certain residence permits, a minimum three-year stay in Germany is required.
Parental benefit can be paid in the first 12 or 14 months of the life of the child.
For couples, the months the parental benefit is received can be freely allocated; however, one person can receive maximum 12 months’ benefits. The duration of 14 months is, however, possible when for one of the two people a reduction occurs in earned income for at least two months – otherwise duration of maximum 12 months only is possible.
Under particular conditions, single parents can also receive 14 months of parental benefit.
To calculate the amount of parental benefit the individual net income of the party applying for it for the last 12 months before the birth is taken as a basis. For the mother, the 12 months before the maternity period are taken into consideration.
The minimum payment of parental benefit is fixed at 300 € monthly.
If an individual calculation yields a sum below 300 €, this minimum sum is paid. The maximum limit is 1800 €.
Parental benefit plus (Elterngeld Plus) gives the option of doubling the duration while halving the benefit payment size. With parental benefit plus, thus, payments can last up to 28 months.
This option can make sense when simultaneously receiving benefits from the job centre, as with unemployment benefit II, a parental benefit allowance of maximum 300 € (for parental benefit plus of 150 €) is only guaranteed if the parental benefit is calculated individually on the basis of lost income. The amount by which the parental benefit or parental benefit plus exceeds the allowance is fully accounted for in the benefits provided by the job centre.
Simultaneous payment of maternity pay from the health insurer and parental benefit is not possible, as both serve the same purpose of replacing lost income. The one-off maternity payment from the Bundesversicherungsamt remains exempt in this case, allowing parental benefit to be drawn.
The partnership bonus with parental benefit plus would in practice not be relevant for students as both parental units must work between 25 and 30 hours a week part-time for four months at a time.
Under particular conditions there is a “sibling bonus” for families with more than one child.
For multiple births there is a supplement of 300 € (for parental benefit plus of 150 €) for each child.
Parental benefit is applied for in Baden-Württemberg at the L-Bank. Application can be made from the day of the birth and can be paid retrospectively for the preceding three months of life.
Education and participation package
For children, youths and young adults, the needs of education and participation are taken especial account of.
Studying parents from member states of the EU, EEA and Switzerland can make use of the education and participation package if they are able to fulfil the requirements for the social benefits connected to the education and participation package.
Students with leave to remain for study purposes are excluded from the education and participation package, as through the acceptance of the connected social benefits, their livelihood no longer appears independently assured. This endangers the extension of their leave to remain.
For other residence permits than that mentioned, an individual assessment of eligibility can take place.
Here, defrayal of expenses for school trips, school equipment, school travel costs, learning support and additional expenditure for communal lunch catering are at issue. It also offers 10 € monthly to the end of the 18th year of life for membership fees (e.g. of clubs), education in artistic subjects or participation in leisure activities.
These benefits are paid on application in addition to the regular benefits from the job centre (unemployment benefit II, Sozialgeld), the Familienkasse (child support supplement) or the Social Welfare Office (social support) or the Housing Benefit Office.
Voluntary communal social benefits
Many cities and administrative districts offer voluntary social benefits to the citizens registered as living there, designed to facilitate those entitled to them in participating in social, cultural and sporting life despite financial constraints.
These benefits are also available for international students if they fulfil the requirements for the social benefit in question.
Families with their main residence in Stuttgart can apply for the BonusCard and FamilienCard.
- Obtaining the BonusCard requires the actual receipt of particular social benefits. Among the services provided by the BonusCard are complete exemption from the costs of daycare facilities and lunch reductions there.
For students with a BonusCard the student union of Stuttgart offers complete exemption from daycare costs; only the mentioned food payment is applicable.
- The FamilienCard is received by families who can either prove receipt of social benefits or have a yearly household income of less than 70,000 € (as of 2019). For families with 4 or more children there is no income cap. The family card is loaded with a credit of 60 € per calendar year which can be used for particular offers. Additionally, further reductions are available.
Inhabitants with their main residence in Ludwigsburg can apply for the LudwigsburgCard.
This card is for people who receive certain social benefits (housing benefit, Sozialgeld, unemployment benefit II, child-support supplements etc.).
In addition, families with three or more children or single parents with one or more children can apply for the card, even without drawing benefits, however only if they are on a low income.
The LudwigsburgCard comes with a 50-page-thick voucher booklet offering e.g. free entry into the Blühendes Barock gardens, visits to the Ludwigsburg baths or free tickets for cinema events in the Scala.
Defrayal of parental contributions to daycare facilities
The responsible Jugendamt (youth welfare office) can be requested to take over the costs paid by parents to daycare facilities. The requirement is that this financial burden cannot be demanded of the parents. The cost to be requested will be tested with the aid of the legal basis of social welfare.
The defrayal of parental contributions is available to all children with legal or tolerated immigration status in Germany, thus also the children of students with leave to remain as per § 16.
(Those in possession of a BonusCard will receive this, as a rule, automatically in Stuttgart daycare facilities without further application. The best thing to do is to talk to the daycare facility in question.)
Tax-deductibility of parental contributions to daycare facilities
Childcare costs can be deducted on your income tax declaration as special payments. Further details on this can be obtained in a number of tax guides or from a tax advisor.
This tax-deductibility can also be used by international students.