Whether you are allowed to work depends on your residence title (Aufenthaltstitel). If you are not sure which type of residence title (Aufenthaltstitel) you have, our webpage on “Asyl” may be helpful: /portal/en/asylum/.
Residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis): If your residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) states “Employment permitted” (“Beschäftigung erlaubt”), you may start working or begin an apprenticeship (Ausbildung). If your residence permit states “Gainful activity permitted” (“Erwerbstätigkeit gestattet”), you may also work independently, such as starting your own business.
Temporary suspension of deportation (Duldung), proof of arrival (Ankunftsnachweis), permission to remain while your asylum decision is pending (Aufenthaltsgestattung): After three months in Germany, you may apply for a work permit at the Immigration Office.
If you have been issued a temporary suspension of deportation (Duldung) and are required to live in an initial reception centre (Erstaufnameeinrichtung), you may apply for a work permit after living in Germany for six months.
If you come from a country that the German government labelled a “safe country of origin” (sicherer Herkunftsstaat) and have applied for asylum after 31 August 2015, it is unlikely that you will get a work permit. The countries of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ghana, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Senegal and Serbia are considered safe countries (sichere Herkunftsstaaten) of origin under German asylum law.