Germany: Government approves residence permit scheme for refugees

The federal cabinet has approved the draft law of the so-called ‘opportunity for right to remain’ (Chancen-Bleiberecht) for people who have been living in Germany for many years with a ‘tolerated stay permit’ called Duldung in German. The bill, which was okayed on Wednesday, will be submitted to the federal parliament, which still has to discuss it and can make amendments before passing it into law.

According to the bill, people who have been living in Germany with a Duldung for five years as at 1 January 2022 will be issued a one-year residence permit on probation in order to fulfil the other requirements for a permanent right to stay in the country.

During the probationary one-year period, the recipients of the permit must fulfil the requirements for a permanent residency right, including securing their livelihood and proving sufficient German language skills. Those who fail to meet the requirements will revert to tolerated status.

Persons with criminal records and their families are excluded from the Chancen-Bleiberecht scheme. On the other hand, persons who have been in Germany for less than five years are to be granted the permit if a close relative receives it. This is to prevent families from being torn apart.

Moreover, those who have repeatedly made false statements or deceived the authorities about their identity in order to prevent their deportation will not be able to benefit from the scheme.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, about 136,600 of the 242,000 tolerated persons in Germany could benefit from the Chancen-Bleiberecht.

Duldung is normally issued to people who have been refused asylum and who are obliged to leave the country, but are allowed to stay in Germany temporarily because they cannot be deported for various reasons. This is usually because they cannot provide proof of identity or have an illness that cannot be treated in their country of origin.

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Tolerated persons therefore do not have a secure stay. The toleration is limited in time and its duration is determined by the competent foreigners’ authorities. After the expiry of a toleration, persons who are obliged to leave the country can be granted a further toleration – leading to what is often referred to as Kettenduldung “chain toleration”.

The bill also provides for an extension of the period foreigners may be detained pending their deportation. In future, they may be detained for up to six months. The maximum permissible period of detention pending deportation is actually three months. It can currently be extended to six months if the person concerned poses a considerable threat to life and limb or to internal security.

Femi Awoniyi

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