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Refugees Asylum procedure

Stand: 14.01.2016

Die App "Ankommen" ist ein Angebot des Bundesamtes für Migration und Flüchtlinge, das gemeinsam mit der Bundesagentur für Arbeit und dem Goethe-Institut die Inhalte bereitgestellt hat. Der Bayerische Rundfunk hat die App realisiert und mit redaktionell-didaktischer Beratung unterstützt. Auszug aus der App:

First steps in Germany

Register as soon as possible with a state authority. This can be the police ("Polizei" or "Bundespolizei") or the immigration authorities ("Ausländerbehörde"). Tell them that you wish to apply for asylum. The officers will arrange accommodation for you in a nearby reception centre ("Aufnahmeeinrichtung") and will bring you to it. Here you will be taken care of and will receive initial information about the asylum procedure ("Asylverfahren") in Germany.

You will also receive a Certificate of Registration as an Asylum Seeker ("Bescheinigung über die Meldung als Asylsuchender", BÜMA).

The BÜMA certificate is a very important document

It serves as identification and enables you to receive the benefits given to asylum seekers such as food, beverages, accommodation and clothing as well as articles for health care and personal hygiene. You will also be given a cash allowance (pocket money) that you can spend on everyday personal needs.

Register quickly!

Please register as soon as possible with a government authority. If you do not report to the authorities, you will be considered to be an illegal immigrant and run the risk of being deported from Germany. Your application for asylum can begin as soon as possible only when you follow the instructions of the government authorities.

Registration at a reception centre ("Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung")

When you register, you must state the following personal details: full name, place of birth, date of birth, religion, language and ethnicity. Your fingerprints will also be taken, at the latest when you submit an application for asylum. The fingerprints will be compared with those registered in databases at a national and European level.

If you do not get registered, you will be considered to be an illegal immigrant and run the risk of being deported from Germany.

Why do I have to be registered several times?

It is perfectly normal that you will be registered several times. The various different authorities require different details about you. Some authorities will be satisfied when you give them your personal details, others will also need to take your fingerprints and make photos of you.

Initial reception

You will first be accommodated at the nearest reception centre ("Aufnahmeeinrichtung"). It is possible that you could be moved to a different reception centre after a few days. It may happen that you will have to change accommodation several times.

Your reception centre is responsible for the provision of your daily needs, accommodation and medical care. It is also where you will be provided with information about the next steps in the process and which regional office of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees ("Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge") will handle your particular case. This is usually not far from the reception centre. This means you won’t have far to go to submit your application for asylum.

Can I choose where I will be staying?

You cannot choose where you would like to stay. This is because Germany distributes asylum seekers between the 16 federal states ("Länder") to ensure that applications for asylum can be processed as quickly as possible. It is therefore possible that you may be moved to another federal state (Land) within Germany. Asylum seekers are distributed between the Länder according to a set reception quota. The regional office of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees ("Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge") that is responsible for your country of origin also plays a role.

You could also be temporarily moved to emergency accommodation ("Notunterkunft") if there is no sleeping capacity left in the regular facilities. In some locations, asylum seekers are also housed in hostels or private houses/apartments.

What will the reception centre provide?

The reception centre ("Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung") will provide you with everything you need for your everyday life. These will be provided free of charge and include accommodation, food and beverages and articles of daily use such as bedding, personal hygiene articles, cutlery, crockery and clothing. In addition, there are monthly personal allowances (pocket money) of 143 euros for single adults and 84 euros for each child up to the age of six. A family with one child, for example, will receive an allowance of 370 euros per month. This allowance is paid one month in advance at the earliest.

What can I expect at the medical examination?

You will be examined by a male or female doctor at the reception centre ("Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung"). The main reason for the medical examination is for identifying and subsequently treating certain contagious diseases.

For persons aged 15 and over, the examination consists of the following: a physical examination, blood tests and X-ray screening of the lungs for the identification or preclusion of tuberculosis. Please inform the doctor if you are pregnant. In such cases, an indicative blood test (a so-called QuantiFERON test = QF test) will be made instead of an X-ray examination. X-ray examinations will be postponed until after childbirth.

In the case of children between the ages of nine and fifteen years, the medical examination will consist of a physical examination, a blood test and a QuantiFERON test (QF test). Children under the age of nine years will need only a physical examination.

You will be notified of positive indications of a disease or illness and will be given a brief written medical note for presentation to the doctors responsible for further treatment.

Vaccinations

The initial medical examination also offers an opportunity for vaccinations to be made in accordance with the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) of the Robert Koch Institute. You will be given a vaccination pass (Impfausweis) in which the vaccinations given are recorded. The vaccination pass also states the dates on which further vaccinations are due.

Medical consultation

The reception centres also provide medical consultation (“Sprechstunden”) and basic preventative medical care. If necessary, the examining doctors will refer patients to medical specialists.

Where will I stay?

In most cases, the length of your stay in the reception centre ("Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung") will be between a minimum of six weeks and a maximum of six months. After this, you will be moved to other accommodation. Depending on the federal state ("Bundesland") or municipality ("Kommune"), this can be collective living quarters ("Gemeinschaftsunterkunft") or a flat ("Wohnung"). It is sometimes also possible for you to stay with relatives when they live in the same Bundesland and when approval is granted by the administrative authorities of the state (Landesverwaltung). Whether you will be permitted to move out of collective living quarters to other accommodation depends on the Bundesland and your personal situation. If you intend to seek your own accommodation, ask the social services department ("Sozialamt") in your municipality how high the monthly rent may be.

Can I move to a another city or another state if I want?

This is only possible when your application for asylum has been approved. Until then, you must stay where you have been accommodated by the authorities. This is the only place where you are entitled to the benefits of board, lodging and medical care.

Living as a family

Many reception centres ("Aufnahmeeinrichtung") try to consider the needs of families and one-parent families. Some centres also have specially allocated accommodation for families. However, it may not always be possible to provide separate areas for families due to lack of suitable space. As far as possible, several federal states ("Bundesländer") try to provide decentralised accommodation in individual apartments for asylum seekers in need of particular protection.

How can I find other members of my family?

Please let the authorities know if you have relatives or whether relatives travelled with you. Please also consult the social advisory service for asylum-seekers ("Asylsozialberatung") that can be found in every reception centre ("Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung").

How do I apply for asylum?

Following your registration at the reception centre ("Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung"), you will be given an appointment for an interview at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees ("Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge"). Your application for asylum must be made in person, it cannot be submitted by post. It is not possible to say exactly when you will be given a date and time for your interview. You may have to wait quite a while. An interpreter will also be present.

What happens at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees ("Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge")?

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees ("Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge") records your personal details: you will be photographed and your fingerprints will be taken. Children under the age of 14 are excepted from this. Please bring all identification documents and supporting documents with you when you file your application for asylum. Supporting documents could, for example, be journalistic articles or videos taken in your home country.

You will then be granted a temporary residence permit ("Aufenthaltsgestattung") by the Federal Office ("BAMF") for the duration of the asylum procedure. This is an identification document that you must carry with you at all times and show to the police or authorities when requested. The temporary residence permit grants you the right to reside in Germany until the decision on your application for asylum has been made and, under certain conditions, also allows you to take up employment.

Does a temporary residence permit allow me to stay in Germany for an indefinite period?

A temporary residence permit does not mean that you will be allowed to stay in Germany for an indefinite period. It serves as an identification document only for the duration of the asylum procedure.

Is Germany actually responsible for my case?

When you file your application, the Federal Office ("BAMF") will check whether Germany or another member state of the European Union is responsible for handling your application for asylum. BAMF compares your fingerprints with records stored in the European EURODAC database to check where and when you arrived in the European Union and whether you have already filed an application for asylum in another country. If you are already registered in another member state of the European Union, BAMF will initiate the Dublin Regulation and file a transfer request with the member state this concerns. The aim of the Dublin Regulation is to ensure that each application for asylum is processed by only one member state.

It is essential that you register in the country in which you first entered the European Union. Many families are separated en route – registration is essential for making it possible to reunite the members of these families.

Preparing for the asylum application ("Asylantrag")

Bring all documents that can provide proof of your reasons for fleeing from your home country. These can be photographs, documents from the police or other authorities and, if applicable, also medical certificates.

You are legally obliged to present all information that can help to establish your identity. If you can not prove your identity, your nationality may be determined by methods such as linguistic analysis.

The following documents must be presented when you file your application for asylum

The Certificate of Registration as an Asylum Seeker ("Bescheinigung über die Meldung als Asylsuchender", BÜMA) that you received at the reception centre ("Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung"). The letter from BAMF inviting you to attend the interview. If available: ID card, passport, birth certificate, travel documents and tickets.

What questions will I be asked when I file my application for asylum?

Amongst others, the following questions will be asked in the presence of an interpreter in the interview when you file your request for asylum: personal details, place of residence, school and further education, family members in your home country, language skills and the route you took to get to Germany.

The reasons for your application for asylum ("Asylgründe") will be requested later during the personal interview.

Waiting for the interview

The amount of time it takes to check the application for asylum differs, and also depends on your country of origin. At the moment, you must reckon with a wait of around five months after you have filed your application in any of the federal states ("Bundesländer") of Germany. Unfortunately, it is possible that the process may take considerably longer in your particular case.

What can I do while I'm waiting for my interview ("Anhörung")?

You can take advantage of the time before your hearing to attend one of the language courses offered at many reception centres ("Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung"). Asylum seekers with a high probability of being granted asylum ("Bleibeperspektive") can also take part in integration courses. You can find out whether this applies to you in your reception centre. There are also numerous other sport and leisure time activities offered by voluntary and other organisations.

Preparing for your interview

Aid organisations at reception centres offer advice about the asylum procedure. You will be given important details about the various phases of the asylum procedure and how you can prepare yourself for the personal interview with the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). You can also take the opportunity to reflect on and write down the essential reasons you had for leaving your home country to seek asylum.

Asylum interview ("Anhörung")

You will be taken back to your reception centre ("Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung") after filing your application for asylum. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees ("Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge", BAMF) will invite you to a second appointment – the personal interview ("persönliche Anhörung"). It is unfortunately impossible to say how long you may have to wait for this invitation.

In the personal interview, you will be requested to provide information about your persecution, a curriculum vitae, your personal circumstances and the route you took to arrive in Germany. You will have ample time to explain what grounds you have for leaving your home country – namely why you fled and what you fear could be your fate if you returned. There is no need whatsoever to fear the hearing. Please report everything you experienced as it happened! Do not follow the advice of friends and people you know who suggest that you report on things that didn’t actually happen to you. An interpreter will be there to help you through the hearing.

What happens during the assessment of the application for asylum?

When the hearing is over, your application for asylum will be assessed while taking into account an overall view of all relevant factors. The personal interview is particularly important. Sometimes, further investigations may become necessary to clarify the facts of your case before a final decision can be made. This could involve requests to the Foreign Office ("Auswärtiges Amt") and the gathering of information from linguistic and text analyses, physical-technical validation of documents or requests for medical reports.

You will receive written notification of the decision with all relevant grounds, information on your right of appeal and a translation into your own language.

Granting asylum

If you are recognised as having a right to asylum or protection as a refugee, the immigration authorities will issue a residence permit ("Aufenthaltserlaubnis") valid for three years. After three years you will be issued with a permanent residence permit ("Niederlassungserlaubnis") if your eligibility criteria still apply. Revocation or withdrawal of the positive decision may still take place at a later date if the prerequisites for this apply. The decision on this is taken at the discretion of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

Recognised refugees and persons with a right to asylum are, as a rule, entitled to the same social welfare benefits ("Sozialleistungen") as German nationals. You will also have unlimited access to the labour market. In addition, you are also entitled to attend integration courses.

If you are granted subsidiary protection, you will receive a residence permit valid for a period of one year. This residence permit ("Aufenthaltserlaubnis") may be extended by a further two years by the immigration authorities.

What can I do if my application for asylum has been rejected?

In the case of a negative decision, you can appeal against it at the administrative courts ("Verwaltungsgericht"). You only have a few days to lodge your appeal after you have been notified of the decision. The notification you receive also contains details of where to lodge your appeal and when you must do it. You can apply for legal aid to cover the costs.

As soon as the rejection of your application for asylum becomes legally binding, you are no longer recognised as a refugee or a person with a right to asylum. You must then leave Germany by the date and time specified by the authorities. If you simply ignore the passing of this deadline, you will be forcibly repatriated to your country of origin (deported, "Abschiebung"). You will also be charged the costs of deportation.

What rights do I have?

You have the right to a regular asylum procedure. This also includes the right to a personal interview ("Anhörung"). You may also express your wishes regarding the gender of the interpreter or decision-maker.

Hearings by special representatives

Unaccompanied child refugees, victims of torture, traumatised persons, victims of gender-based persecution and victims of human trafficking have the right to a hearing conducted by a special representative. These are decision-makers especially trained for handling such cases.

When you file an application for asylum, you have the right to benefits for asylum-seekers until a decision has been made on your application for asylum. These will be provided free of charge and include accommodation, food and beverages and articles of daily use such as bedding, personal hygiene articles, cutlery, crockery and clothing. In addition, there are monthly personal allowances (pocket money) of 143 euros for single adults and 84 euros for each child up to the age of six.

What obligations must I fulfil?

Principally you must observe the laws and regulations applicable in the Federal Republic of Germany.

You are legally obliged to file your application for asylum in person at a regional office of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees ("Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge", BAMF). You must also be present in person at the hearing of your case ("Anhörung").

Obligation to cooperation

All details relating to your identity provided for the assessment of your application must be truthful. This also includes the presentation of all official documents or relevant papers in your possession. When your place of residence changes, it is also essential that you notify BAMF and the relevant immigration authority of the change of address in good time to ensure that you can be contacted at all times. Fulfilment of this obligation to cooperation is very important for you. If you are not prepared to cooperate, this may have serious negative effects on the decision made by BAMF on your case. Please notify BAMF of all significant changes to your situation, for instance pregnancy or serious illness.

The temporary residence permit ("Aufenthaltsgestattung")

Your temporary residence permit ("Aufenthaltsgestattung") allows you to reside only in a specific district of the Federal Republic of Germany. This district is stated in your Aufenthaltsgestattung. You must carry your Aufenthaltsgestattung with you at all times. You will require the permission of the immigration authorities ("Ausländerbehörde") if you wish to temporarily leave the district.


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