Fundamental Right of Asylum

Recht auf Asyl = right of asylum

The right of asylum is an international fundamental right. In the Federal Republic of Germany it is part of the constitution (article 16a: “Politically persecuted people enjoy the right of asylum”.). You can reclaim the right of asylum if you provably experienced political persecution in your country of origin or if you were in life-threatening conditions there for other reasons. In addition, having joined the Geneva Convention on Refugees, Germany committed itself to receive refugees who require international protection. Accordingly, your individual reasons for protection are proved in the course of the asylum procedure.

Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)

In Germany, an application for asylum can only be filed at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). BAMF is not a court but an authority. It verifies whether you have been persecuted in your home country and whether you will be threatened by persecution in case of return. If you have experienced persecution, it is essential whether you have obtained state protection in your home country.
It is also verified, if you can obtain protection in another part of your country of origin.

Verification is only possible on the basis of your personal asylum application. File the asylum application as soon as possible at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. The Federal Office will inform you about where and when to file the asylum application.
The Federal Office sets up a file on you and records your personal details. If you have turned 14, you will be photographed and fingerprinted.

During the application, you will be informed about your rights and duties regarding the asylum procedure. This information will be handed to you in writing in your national language. BAMF will invite an interpreter/translator to your personal appointment with the decision maker. You are entitled to be heard in your mother tongue. You are allowed to bring along your lawyer to the appointment. You can also bring along a trusted person in case you have announced it.

What is requested with the asylum application?

Once you file an asylum application, you apply for protection in Germany. First of all, BAMF proves whether or not Germany is responsible for your application. If

  • you have already applied for asylum in another European country,
  • you have been granted asylum in another European country or
  • your asylum application has been rejected in another European country,

Germany is not officially responsible for you. In this case, you will receive a letter from the Federal Office, in which you will be asked to travel to the country responsible for you.

Residence papers

You will receive your “proof of arrival” (“Ankunftsnachweis”) from the LAE staff if you have not received it at another point yet. The proof of arrival substitutes the certificate of registration as an asylum seeker (“Bescheinigung über die Meldung als Asylsuchender” – BÜMA). The proof of arrival or the certificate provides personal data and a photograph. As soon as these documents are issued, your registration as asylum seeker is being recorded. On this basis, the Federal Office will invite you to your personal asylum application.

As soon as you have filed your asylum application, the proof of arrival or BÜMA will be exchanged for the permission to reside (Aufenthaltsgestattung). You have to carry that document with you all the time and you have to show it to the police in case of identity checks. In this identification document, it is noted in which area you are allowed to stay. As soon as you might transfer to an adopting municipality in Saxony-Anhalt, the change of your address will be reported to the Federal Office immediately.

Consultation on the asylum procedure – preparation of the hearing

There are counseling centers regarding the asylum procedure in the initial reception center (Caritas). You can catch up on your rights and duties concerning all steps of the asylum procedure in the counseling centers. You might also get personal advice on the options of voluntary return to your home country or migration to a third country. These consultations are free of charge, anonymous and regardless of faith or ideology.
BAMF’s info video on the asylum procedure (in 10 languages) also prepares for the hearing. Ask in your initial reception center where it is screened.

The Hearing

The hearing, often called “interview”, is the most important instance for applicants to explain why they have fled. On the basis of the hearing, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees decides whether or not you will be granted asylum in Germany.

Please note: The hearing is the first and only possibility for you to amply describe your personal motifs for the claim to asylum! Be aware of the significance of the interview and prepare well for the hearing.

Depending on the capacities of BAMF, the interview takes place some time after filing the application. You will receive a written invitation to the “Hearing according to § 25 of the Asylum Procedure Law” (Anhörung gemäß § 25 Asylverfahrensgesetz). An interpreter will be present. Inform the Federal Office early on in which language the hearing should be accomplished. As asylum seeker you are entitled to a hearing in your mother tongue. Particular wishes such as a female translator/interpreter should be announced in time.

The hearing is composed of about 25 questions about your background, the reasons for fleeing and your journey to Germany. Take your time for that. Provide true and full information. If possible, exhibit instruments of evidence or pictures. The decision maker will validate if your information is in accordance with the information you provided at registration. You are entitled to back-translation of your statements. Verify that all the statements of your hearing in the translated report are correct and confirm with your signature.

Caution: Check if the names of all family members are spelled correctly!

Decision of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees

The Federal Office will notify you about the decision on your asylum application in writing (official decision – Bescheid). The official decision includes reasons for the decision as well as notice of appeals (Rechtbehelfsbelehrung), which inform you about if and how you can reconsider the decision and file an appeal.

You will receive a positive notice in case of:

  • acknowledgement of entitlement to asylum (Art. 16a para. 1 of the Basic Law), or
  • award of refugee status in accordance with the Geneva Refugee Convention (section 3 subs. 1 of the Asylum Act), or
  • award of subsidiary protection (section 4 subs. 1 of the Asylum Act), or
  • imposition of a ban on deportation (section 60 subs. 5 or 7 of the Residence Act).

A positive notice establishes a legal status. It involves a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis). Depending on the reason, the residence is initially granted for a period of one to three years.

In case of a negative notice, you will receive a demand for departure and a threat of deportation that obliges you to leave the country. If deportation is not possible, the foreigners’ registration office might temporarily issue a temporary suspension of deportation (Duldung). Duldung is a provisional document which identifies you as registered person. It is not a legal status.

Calling in a Lawyer after receiving a negative notice

You can file an appeal against the Federal Office’s decision in court. The notice of appeals provides indications of possible legal means and deadlines for applicants. Please note that you have to answer quickly if you want to file an appeal.
Also, in case you intend to engage a lawyer, you should take action early on. Caritas’ asylum procedure counseling center (Asylverfahrensberatung der Caritas) as well as the Refugee Council (Flüchtlingsrat) provide independent consultation on lawyerly protection.

Filing a follow-up or second application

You can file a follow-up application if you have received a negative notice in your initial asylum procedure. If your asylum application had been rejected in a safe third country or in Norway or Switzerland, Germany is responsible for your procedure. In this case, it is referred to a second application.
This is possible, if you were placed in danger should you be returned to your country of origin or if the circumstances in your country of origin had deteriorated. If BAMF accepts your evidence, you undergo the whole asylum procedure again.

Voluntary Return

If you are obliged to leave the country or if you want to return to your home country, voluntary return is a conflict-free and safe alternative to compulsory repatriation.
The Federation’s REAG/GARP-program is a subsidy program for voluntary return. There is no legal claim to financial or other support in case of voluntary return.
Address the staff in the asylum procedure counseling centers. They will support you regarding the application and organize your departure.

Family reunification

As a person to whom refugee status has been granted or as a person entitled to asylum, you are entitled to subsequent immigration of your spouse and of your minor, unmarried children. You file an application for privileged family reunification at the Federal Foreign Office. It implies that your core family can enter to Saxony-Anhalt and receive a legal status. Please note that this application must be filed a maximum of three months after your recognition as refugee or asylum-entitled person.

For persons entitled to subsidiary protection, family reunification is suspended until March 15, 2018 (as of 10/2016). After this period, you can also apply for the easier subsequent immigration of your family at the Federal Foreign Office.

If your asylum procedure is still pending or if you have a national ban on deportation, you can also apply for family reunification. For this to be granted, you need to prove that you have adequate living space and that you can support yourself and your family members entering the country financially.