People from Ukraine arriving at the Munich train station being attended to by volunteers of Caritas/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Germany extends visa free status for refugees from Ukraine

The edict allowing people fleeing the war in Ukraine to enter Germany without a visa and reside in the country without a permit has been extended.

The Ukraine Residence Transition Ordinance (UkraineAufenthÜV), issued by the Federal Ministry of the Interior on 7 March 2022, is currently valid until 23 May 2022.

An amendment** of the edict was approved by the Bundesrat, the upper chamber of the federal parliament, on 8 April 2022 which extends its period of validity until 31 August 2022.

The Federal Government explained that the extension was necessary as the applications for temporary protection filed so far by the refugees could not all be processed by 23 May 2022 and also that a large number of new arrivals could still be expected beyond that date.

The UkraineAufenthÜV provides for the facilitation of the entry and residence for persons who have fled the war in Ukraine. This means that these persons can enter Germany without a visa and their stay is considered permitted even without a residence permit (i.e. even before receiving a residence permit for temporary protection or have applied for it). In addition, these persons can apply for and receive a residence title in Germany without having entered with the visa that would otherwise be required.

The following groups are covered by the regulation:

  • Those who were in Ukraine on 24.2.2022 and enter Germany by 31.8.2022. This applies to all persons, i.e. both Ukrainian nationals and third-country nationals.
  • Those who had their residence or habitual abode in Ukraine on 24.2.2022, but were temporarily not in Ukraine at that time and who enter Germany by 31.8.2022. This applies to Ukrainian nationals and otherwise only to third-country nationals entitled to protection in Ukraine, i.e. with refugee protection, with subsidiary protection or with equivalent national protection.
  • Those who were already legally in Germany on 24.2.2022, but without a long-term residence title. This only applies to Ukrainian nationals. Ukrainian nationals have already been able to enter the Schengen area without a visa since mid-2017, but have only been allowed to stay here for 90 days within a 180-day period

Until 31 August 2022, the refugees are expected to submit application to the competent authorities for the granting of a residence permit in accordance with Section 24 of the Residence Act.

Under the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive, which entered into effect on 4 March, refugees from Ukraine will have the right to live and work in the European Union for at least one year, a period that can be extended for additional two years. The regulation, which applies to Ukrainians and third country nationals permanently living in the country, provides a framework for the protection of people displaced by the war.

The Directive is however not clear on the situation of third country nationals who are short-term residents in Ukraine, such as foreign students. The Directive only required that they are provided temporary protection to enable them return to their home countries. However, lawyers say these persons could apply for other forms of residence permit such as to study, work or receive training.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February more than 400,000 persons have arrived in Germany from the country. Altogether more than 3.5 million people have fled Ukraine, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

Femi Awoniyi

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