Pictured above are the recipients of the Fiktionsbescheinigung proudly displaying the papers yesterday in Hamburg/Photo: Courtesy of Irene Appiah/Facebook

African students from Ukraine receive residence permit in Hamburg after weeks of uncertainty!

The first beneficiaries of the new Hamburg regulation for third country students from Ukraine received their Fiktionsbescheinigung (Transitional Residence Permit) yesterday.

Fiktionsbescheinigung is issued if a decision has not yet been taken on an applied-for residence title or if the decision could not yet be taken. It is therefore a provisional right to stay in Germany.

As we reported last week, Hamburg, one of Germany’s 16 federal states, now issues a 6-month transitional residence permit to non-Ukrainian students from Ukraine under a special scheme.

Under the scheme, refugee students who are third-country nationals will receive a Fiktionsbescheinigung under the following conditions:

• they must be able to identify themselves with a passport bearing a residence permit of Ukraine
• they must present a document showing that they were enrolled in a higher education institution in Ukraine at the time the war broke out

The Fiktionsbescheinigung is valid for six months and it entitles the holders to

• welfare benefits according to the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act
• enrolment in health insurance scheme
• a work permit.

Students who are able to fulfil certain conditions within these or at the end of the six months will be eligible for a residence permit for the purpose of studying, for example.

The conditions are that they

  • have secured their livelihood (this can be proved by showing a regular income of €861 per month earned through work or a blocked bank account or a scholarship)
  • have a university admission or a work/training contract
  • possess good German language skills

Anyone who cannot credibly fulfil these conditions after the 6 months have expired will not be granted an extended residence title but will be requested to leave the country voluntarily or, alternatively, be returned with the help of the German state (deportation). The consequence of deportation is an entry ban of at least 7 years.

The Hamburg scheme, brought about by, among others, the excellent advocacy work done by Jurist Irene Appiah, a councillor in the city, comes as a big relief for African students who have been very worried about their fate.

The opportunity offered by Hamburg now enables those who are registered in Hamburg to immediately start looking for work and enrol in a language school.

However, there have been reports of some offices in Hamburg that are still advising third country students, especially Africans, to apply for asylum instead of the Transitional Residence Permit. An activist of the Black community in Hamburg, who would not like to be named in this report, said the students should not bow to such pressure. “They should stand their ground that they are not asylum seekers,” she advised.

Students registering in Hamburg should therefore insist that they are not applying for asylum but for the Transitional Residence Permit as explained above.

Femi Awoniyi

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