Germany

The broader context (2011-14)

Total asylum applications by Syrian nationals

65,325

Percentage share of total Syrian asylum applications submitted in European countries (EU and EEA)

41%

Syrian asylum applications per capita 

0.0008%

Recognition rate

93.05%

Humanitarian aid for Syria and neighbouring countries

€674,323,743

Percentage share of humanitarian aid contributed by European countries

1.93%

 

1. GERMAN RESETTLEMENT & ADMISSION PROGRAMMES

With a pre-conflict Syrian population of approximately 40,000 persons, calls from diaspora and civil society for Germany to respond to the Syrian crisis came soon after the start of the conflict in early 2011. Receiving broad support across the German political spectrum and from a large section of the general public, they asked that the German government offer both humanitarian aid and safe access channels for Syrians to come to Germany. 

Germany is to date the third largest national donor of humanitarian aid for Syria and its neighbouring countries. In addition to pledging 20,000 places for Syrians through 3 national humanitarian programmes, the German government has led calls for a coordinated European response to the Syrian refugee crisis. In October 2014 the government convened the 'Conference on the Syrian Refugee Situation - Supporting Stability in the Region' and called on Member States to signifcantly expand their contributions:

'If the remaining 27 Member States would involve themselves according to their size and capability, like Germany, then we could secure the survival of families and children and offer them long-term prospects.'

Gerd Müller, German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation & Development

 

i) Resettlement

In 2012 the German government established a small-scale resettlement programme, operated in conjunction with UNHCR and providing 300places each year.  From 2015 the annual quota will be increased to 500 places. Refugees selected for resettlement are granted 3-year temporary residency, renewable on an annual basis, and permanent residence can be applied for after 5 years of legal residency. 200 places of the 2014 German resettlement quota were reserved for refugees to be resettled from within Syria, including Iraqis, Somalis, stateless Palestinians, Ethiopians and Afghanis.

 

ii) Humanitarian admission

The German government initially considered that the protection needs of Syrian refugees were short-term, and could be met by providing temporary protection until the conflict was resolved. They also recognised the need for large-scale, organised movement of refugees out of the region surrounding Syria so as to facilitate this protection. The national resettlement programme was not considered to be a suitable mechanism for such a response, due both to its purpose of providing long-term durable solutions and its inability to facilitate rapid and substantial admissions.

On March 20 2013, the German government announced a first humanitarian admission programme (HAP I), providing 5,000 places for Syrian refugees. 2 subsequent humanitarian admission programmes (HAP II and III), announced in December 2013 and April 2014, brought the total places offered by the 3 programmes to 20,000.  Germany thus became the first European country to commit to large-scale, ad-hoc admission of Syrians outside of regular resettlement quotas.

To effect greater capacity to process cases and facilitate arrivals, the German humanitarian admission programmes have made use of expedited processing and a range of referral sources. 

UNHCR is responsible for referrals for 6,000 of the 20,000 places available across the 3 programmes, based on UNHCR resettlement submission categories and using the simplified HAP Form (see Chapter ?). UNHCR referrals for HAP I (3,100 persons) and HAP II (1,000 persons) were from Lebanon.  In order to respond to the increasingly insecure situation of Syrian refugees in Egypt, in HAP III the countries of first asylum for UNHCR referrals (2,000 persons) include both Lebanon and Egypt. 

In HAP I, the NGO Caritas Lebanon, which provides humanitarian assistance in both camps and urban areas in Lebanon, identified and referred 300 persons to UNHCR (included in the total 3100 cases referred by UNHCR for this programme.

3,400 places across the 3 German programmes are cases 'known to' the Ministry for the Interior and the Foreign Ministry, via referrals from German national and regional parliamentarians, or applications for entry visas at German embassies in the region made prior to the start of the HAP programmes. 

HAP II and III introduced a substantial new referral role for Syrian nationals resident in Germany, who can apply for family members resident in Syria, neighbouring countries, Egypt and Libya to join them in Germany.  HAP II created 4,000 places for referrals by family members, and a further 7,000 places are included in HAP III.

Quotas for places available for referrals by family members are set for each region in Germany using the numerical key through which asylums seekers are distributed across the national territory.  Family members are required to lodge applications at their local Foreigners Office (applications outside of the federal state where they reside are not permitted), who then forward applications to the Ministry for the Interior.  The Ministry selects cases on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, without consideration of vulnerability criteria.  Family members should normally pay for and organise travel to Germany, and a legal commitment by family members to part-finance the costs of reception and stay is viewed positively within the selection process.

Syrians arriving via the 3 German humanitarian admission programmes are granted 2-year temporary residency with the possibility to renew for an additional 2 years.  Although German humanitarian admission programmes were initially established to provide temporary protection, the German government has recently stated that the lack of a foreseeable political solution to the Syrian conflict means persons arriving under these programmes are expected to stay permanently.  Specific measures to facilitate their long-term or permanent residency are yet to be announced.

At February 2015, 11,321 persons had arrived through HAP I, II and III, 85% of which were families. 52% departed from Lebanon, 35% from inside Syria, and the remainder from Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Qatar. Approximately 60% of the group were persons over 18 and 30% younger than 12.  60% were Muslims and 20% Christians, with the remainder of unknown or no religious affiliation.

 

iii) Regional admission programmes for family members

In June 2013, the German Conference of the Ministers of the Interior announced that regional governments were free to establish admission programmes for family members of Syrians resident in Germany. This decision was taken in response to widespread calls from Syrian communities in Germany for increased opportunities for family members to join them.

Following this announcement, 15 of the 16 German federal states implemented programmes that allowed Syrians resident in participating states to apply for a temporary residence permit on humanitarian grounds for spouses, immediate relatives or members of the wider family. Relatives can be those with Syrian nationality or stateless persons, residing in Syria, its neighbouring countries or Egypt. The 15 regional programmes originally offered a varying number of places, with the largest programme of 1000 places provided by North Rhine-Westphalia.  Quotas for all programmes have since been abolished, effectively providing an unlimited number of places for family members.

Documentary proof of family relationships is generally accepted, although DNA testing has been used in a limited number of cases. Procedures for processing applications and effecting arrivals have been reported to be both complex and slow.

Family members lodging applications must provide proof that they have the financial means to cover all costs related to their relatives' travel to and stay in Germany, and sign a legally binding letter of intent to provide for such.  In July 2014, in response to concerns at the considerable financial burden borne by receiving family members, all participating regional governments have agreed to pay health-related expenses.  Regional governments have also accepted underwriting of family members' financial commitments by both individuals and organisations.

However, the feasibility of long-term financial commitments by family members remains questionable. To date, 26% of family members arriving via these programmes have claimed asylum in Germany, reportedly due to their families' inability to continue supporting them.  Regional governments differ significantly on assessing eligibility of these claimants for mainstream asylum support.

At March 2015, a total of 15,000 entry visas had been issued under the regional family admission programmes.  By the end of 2014, 6120 visa holders had arrived into Germany.

 

2. RECEPTION & INTEGRATION

Reception and integration arrangements for Syrians arriving via HAP I, II and III programmes differ considerably depending both on which programme facilitates their arrival and how they are referred, as below:

 

Resettlement

Humanitarian Admission

Regional admission programmes for family members

Without family links

With family links

Travel arrangements

Assisted group travel

Assisted group travel

Self-organised

Self-organised

Reception

2-week stay in centralised reception

2-week stay in centralised reception

Direct reception by family members

Direct reception by family members

Permission to work

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Access to general welfare system

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Legal right to integration course

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Integration subsidy for municipalities

Yes (for a period of 2 years after arrival)

Yes (for a period of 2 years after arrival)

Yes (for a period of 2 years after arrival)

No

Placement via Königssteiner Schlüssel

Yes

Yes

No

No

 


 

 

Recognition: 
41.64
Applicants: 
202 815
CountryID: 
1
Syrian Applicants: 
41 105
Syrian Recognition: 
93.61