Asylum Process

A couple asks for an asylum application

To submit an asylum application you need to reside in Germany. An asylum application cannot be submitted to a foreign representative of the Federal Republic of Germany. You need to submit this application personally.

In order to be able to submit an application for asylum in Germany, you must first register yourself. When you have arrived in Berlin, you must first go to the Anlaufstelle Neuankömmlinge (New arrivals contact office). The Germany-wide “EASY” distribution system is used to determine which German state is responsible for your acceptance. If it is determined that another German state is responsible for your acceptance, then you will receive a train ticket to the responsible institution. If Berlin is responsible, then you must register yourself as an asylum seeker at the Landesamt für Flüchtlingsangelegenheiten (State office for Refugee affairs). Registration will last two days. On the first day, your Ankunftsnachweis (Arrival certificate) will be produced, which acts as your temporary identification document and is the requirement for your right to support services. The arrival certificate features your name, birthday, citizenship, and a photo of you. You must also provide your fingerprints before it is issued. On the second day, a medical examination takes place and you reserve your first support services. Make sure you bring all of your identification documents and papers (passport, birth certificate, personal ID, or driver’s licence).

Following registration, you will be placed in an acceptance centre, which serves as your accommodation and provides you with everything you need. The duration of your accommodation in the acceptance centre normally lasts up to six weeks or up to six months at the longest. If you come from a so-called “safe country of origin” (i.e. Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ghana, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Senegal, and Serbia), then you are obligated to live there until the Ministry of Migrant and Refugee Affairs reaches a decision concerning your asylum application. In case your asylum application is rejected, then you must remain in the initial acceptance centre as a citizen of a safe country of origin until you are returned to your country of origin. If you have family members in another centre, then it is possible to apply to unify your family.

How do I submit an asylum application?

After registration as an asylum applicant, you submit your asylum application to the Berlin branch office of the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (Ministry for Migrant and Refugee Affairs). You will be provided with an appointment. Please bring your identification documents with you to the application appointment.

During your personal application, you will have access to a simultaneous translator to help you. You will also receive important information in writing in your mother tongue.The data recorded by you is matched with the Central Register of Foreign Nationals and the Federal Criminal Police Office to check whether several applications exist and whether it is your first application or a follow-up application, in accordance with the Dublin Regulation. A Europe-wide system is also available to check if another state is responsible for the asylum process.

In connection with your personal application, you will receive permission to reside.

Which residency documents do I receive?

During registration, you will receive an arrival certificate, which includes your photo, your name, your date of birth, and your citizenship. After your personal asylum application with the Ministry for Migrant and Refugee Affairs, you will be provided with permission to reside. This is a very important document as it enables you to prove that you have applied for asylum, and you must display it in case of official or police checks. Permission to reside is limited to the area of the district where the responsible acceptance centre is located. This limitation expires after three months, unless you are obligated to continue to live in an initial acceptance centre (especially as a citizen of a so-called “safe country of origin”).

How does the asylum process proceed?

Within the scope of the asylum process, the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (Ministry of Migrant and Refugee Affairs), checks if the requirements for asylum entitlement, refugee protection, subsidiary protection, and national deportation prohibitions apply.

After you have submitted your asylum application to a branch office of the Ministry of Migrant and Refugee Affairs, you will have to wait for a decision to be reached.

As long as you are obligated to live in an initial acceptance centre, a so-called “residency obligation” shall apply. This means that you may initially not leave the district of the foreign nationals’ office where your acceptance centre is located – in your case this is the state of Berlin. You are not allowed to work during the obligatory residency period.

Before the actual asylum process takes place, the Dublin Accord will be examined initially to determine whether another European state is responsible for processing your asylum application. This will ensure that every asylum application that is submitted in the so-called Dublin Area (in the EU, in Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, or Liechtenstein) is only checked by one state. If you have already been registered in one of the indicated states or if you have already submitted an asylum application there, then Germany cannot provide additional legal asylum protection.

If your asylum application must be processed in another state, then Germany will submit a transfer request to this state. If this state agrees, then the Ministry will issue a corresponding statement. You may dispute this and request an urgent application within one week from the responsible administrative court. Until a legal decision has been made concerning the urgent application, transfer to the original application country is not possible.

If the transfer does not take places within six months, then responsibility remains with the state in which you previously submit the asylum application. This period may be extended under some circumstances.

The most important element of the asylum process is the personal hearing involving the applicant. During the hearing appointment the Bundesamt für Flüchtlinge (Ministry of Refugee Affairs) will provide you a simultaneous translator. During the appointment, you will have the opportunity to explain your individual reasons for fleeing. For this reason, it is important that you are well-prepared when you appear at this appointment and that you ask for advice from a lawyer at an aid organisation in advance. Extensive information about the asylum process hearing is available in numerous language translations at asyl.net.

If you cannot appear at the appointment for health reasons or other important reasons, then you must decline the appointment in writing. If you do not appear without providing a valid excuse, then your application may be rejected or the process may be halted.

The hearing is not public, but you may be accompanied by your lawyer, a representative of UNHCR, or another person whom you trust (Section 14 paragraph 4 of the VwVfG.). Unaccompanied minors will be accompanied by their guardian.

During your hearing you should give yourself sufficient time, you explain your reasons for fleeing and your living situation, as well as your personal history. You can also indicate your appraisal of the dangers present to you if you return to your country of origin. The responsible decision-maker from the Ministry of Migrant and Refugee Affairs is normally aware of the general situation in your country of origin. You are obligated to answer questions truthfully. If you possess proof such as photos, letters from civic offices or the police, or medical statements, please provide them.

To avoid errors or misunderstandings, the complete conversation will be translated and important points will be recorded. Following the discussion, you may request a translation of the recording into your mother tongue. You shall then have the opportunity to correct or add to your statements. This reverse translation should be completed before you are requested to conform the recording.

After the hearing, the Ministry of Migrant and Refugee Affairs will begin the decision-making process regarding the asylum application.

The situation of people who require special protection such as unaccompanied minors, pregnant women, single parents with children, victims of torture, traumatised persons, persecuted genders, and victims of human trafficking should be noted in particular during the complete asylum process and in their accommodations.

When do I receive protection?

The protection that is provided to individual refugees depends on the responsible agency during the asylum process. In Germany, there are four different forms of protection:

  • Right to asylum
  • Refugee protection
  • Subsidiary protection
  • National deportation prohibition

Article 16a of the constitution specifies a basic right to asylum, which forms the basis of the right to asylum. All persons who are politically persecuted by state agents have the right to protection in Germany. Recognition of the right to asylum is however excluded if the persecuted person has travelled into Germany via a safe third-party state (all other EU countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland).

People who are recognised as refugees and receive refugee protection as a result of this are specified in the Geneva Convention on Refugees. A refugee is a person whose life or health is threatened due to their race, nationality, political convictions, religion, or association with a specific social group. Other than with the right to asylum, the threat does not need to come from a state agent, but may also come from non-state agents such as terror groups, clans, cartels, or family members. The Ministry regularly considers whether protection would also have been available in the home country, for example by moving to a safer area.

People with the right to asylum and refugees receive a residency permit for three years with unlimited access to the labour market. They have the right to reunify their family. If the application for this is submitted within three months after confirmation by the Ministry, then you do not need to prove that you can cover the living expenses of your family members. After three or five years, the right to settle will be issued if additional requirements such as coverage of living expenses and certain German skills have been met.

Subsidiary protection will be provided if the applicant is threatened by the death penalty, torture, or inhumane or undignified treatment or punishment in their country of origin. Furthermore, protection also applies to civilians whose life or health is seriously threatened individually by random violence within the context of armed conflicts.

If the Ministry grants subsidiary protection, then the foreign nationals’ office will issue a residency permit for one year. This will be extended by two years after expiry of the first year if there is still a reason for protection. People who receive subsidiary protection also have unlimited access to the labour market, just like recognised refugees. However, the law excluded family reunion for them until March 2018. Since 1st August 2018, 1000 family members of beneficiaries of protection per month are permitted to travel to Germany. After five years, the residency permit may be transformed into an unlimited settlement permit under certain conditions.

To protect applicants who do not meet the conditions required to grant asylum, refugee protection, or subsidiary protection, a national deportation prohibition may be awarded as per Section 60 paragraphs 5 and 7 of the AufenthG, provided that deportation would result in human rights violations or significant and specific danger to life, health, or freedom. This may be the case if someone suffers from a serious illness that cannot be treated in their country of origin, whereby severe health damage is feared if the person is forced to return.

If a national deportation prohibition applies, then a one-year residency permit that may also be extended repeatedly will be issued, which may also be transformed into a settlement permit after five years under certain conditions. People who have received a deportation prohibition have limited access to the labour market and a limited right to have their family joint them.

Which exceptions apply for unaccompanied under-age refugees?

For under-age refugees and asylum seekers, who enter into Berlin without their parents or other legal relatives, special procedural rules apply. These people are (temporarily) taken into care by the youth welfare office responsible – in Berlin, by the Senate Administration for Education, Youth and Family/ state youth welfare office. The initial reception of all unaccompanied children and youths takes place in the FSD Stiftung Berlin Erstaufnahme & Clearingstelle (EAC) on Wupperstraße 17, 14167, Berlin (Steglitz-Zehlendorf). There, accommodation, food and medical care as well as pedagogical care are ensured for the child’s welfare and registration under foreigner law is arranged by the State Office for Citizenship and Regulatory Affairs. Depending on the number of nationwide initial recordings of unaccompanied, under-age refugees, the State of Berlin is entitled – so far as no reasons for exclusion (e.g. an illness) exist -, to move them to another federal state. In the case of existing reasons for exclusion or if access numbers are low compared to the federal average, then the unaccompanied, under-age refugees remain in Berlin.

An application for asylum cannot be provided by the unaccompanied, under-age refugee him/herself, but only by the state youth office, the guardian or an supplementary carer. Provided that an application is made, the unaccompanied, under-age refugee (within the wider asylum procedure) is accompanied by a guardian or a supplementary carer. That also applies especially for the asylum hearing at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. The guardian or supplementary carer has as a rule “special technical knowledge” in questions relating to asylum or law concerning foreigners, which to some extent also provides for exceptions regarding (unaccompanied) under-age refugees.