The unauthorized employment of foreigners in Germany without a work permit can lead to considerable penalties for employers and employees in Germany. Read here what penalties can be imposed on employers and employees in Germany.

Employment is one of the most common reasons for entering and staying in Germany. Employees who are not German nationals within the meaning of Art. 116 para. 1 of the Basic Law, as well as their employers and clients, must comply with special regulations.

While nationals of other EU Member States and those of the European Economic Area are basically covered by the provisions of the Freedom of Movement Act, third-country nationals basically always require a work permit from the Federal Employment Agency and a residence permit from the responsible Foreigners’ Authority in Germany. Third-country nationals are defined as foreign nationals who are not

  • EU citizens,
  • Nationals of a member state of the European Economic Area (EEA),
  • Swiss nationals or
  • family members of such nationals.


1. Legal consequences of non-compliance

The exercise of employment or self-employment contrary to a prohibition or restriction may be punished as a criminal offense or administrative offense by the foreign national, employer or client.

  • For foreign employees:
    • Fine: up to EUR 5,000
    • Criminal offense: imprisonment for up to one year or a fine
    • Deportation from Germany and entry ban if necessary


  • For employers / companies in Germany:
    • Fine: up to EUR 500,000
    • Entry in the central trade register
    • Criminal offense: imprisonment for up to three years or a fine
    • ADDITIONAL: COST ASSIGNMENT FOR DEPORTATION (Koblenz Administrative Court, judgment of February 27, 2024, 1 K 859/23.KO)


2. Employer must pay costs for deportation

According to the case law of the Administrative Court of Koblenz (judgment of 27 February 2024, 1 K 859/23.KO, available here), employers are also obligated to pay the costs of deporting a third-country national who was working for the employer without a work permit.

The case: The employer operates a construction business and had employed an Albanian national, although he did not have a work or residence permit. The Albanian was found in March 2023 during a customs inspection at one of the employer’s construction sites in the Bad Kreuznach district. He was subsequently arrested to secure his deportation until he was deported to Albania on April 18, 2023. Deportation costs of €5,849.01 were incurred. The district of Bad Kreuznach demanded reimbursement of these costs from the company as the employer by means of a notice. The employer did not agree with this and filed an unsuccessful appeal.

The decision: The administrative court dismissed the complaint. According to the Koblenz judges, the employer was liable for the costs of the deportation on the basis of the provisions of the Residence Act because the Albanian was not permitted to pursue gainful employment. The employer must also pay the costs of the detention pending deportation, as the ordered preventive detention was lawful. This was not altered by the fact that the Albanian had to be hospitalized after the expiry of the deadline for departure; he had not informed the responsible positions about this.

The reasoning: Such an obligation to bear costs is regulated by Section 66 (4) sentence 1 no. 1 Residence Act (AufenthG). It states:

The following shall be liable for the costs of deportation or removal

any employer who employed the foreigner as an employee who was not permitted to pursue gainful employment under the provisions of this Act;


3. Recommendation

In order to avoid such and similar penalties, we recommend consulting with a company specializing in residence law at an early stage. VISALABS is available for this purpose with the support of lawyers who specialize in residence and employment law.



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