Germany: Law providing opportunity for regular residency for ‘tolerated persons’ enters into force

The Opportunity Residence Act (“Chancenaufenthaltsgesetz”) comes into force on 1 January 2023. Tolerated persons in Germany who had been living in Germany for five years or more on the cut-off date of 1 October 2022 are to receive a residence permit “on probation”.

Tolerated persons are people who are obliged to leave the country but are allowed to stay temporarily because they cannot be deported. This is usually because they cannot provide proof of identity or have an illness that cannot be treated in their country of origin. Thus, tolerated persons do not have a secure residency status.

In December, the Bundestag passed the law that is supposed to bring new opportunities for persons who have only been tolerated in Germany for many years.

People who have been living in Germany without a secure residence title for five years on 31 October 2022 are to be granted the new status for 18 months in order to give them the opportunity to meet the requirements for a regular right to stay. Excluded from the new law are tolerated persons who have made false statements about their identity or have committed a criminal offence.

Persons who can benefit from the law must fulfil the following preconditions during the 18-month period:

• they must have been living uninterruptedly at least since 31 October 2017 in Germany
• they must be in possession of Duldung or are entitled to Duldung
•they must not have acquired the Duldung on the basis of false statements or deception, such as hiding their true identity
• they must not have been convicted of an intentional criminal offence (fines of up to 50 daily sentences, and up to 90 daily sentences with regard to infractions under the aliens law, are tolerated.
• they must not have prevented their deportation through the presentation of false identity
• they must accept the liberal-democratic constitutional order of Germany

Upon application at the foreigners’ office, the tolerated persons will be issued a residence permit for 18 months during which they are expected to learn German, get a job and obtain their country’s passport.

After 18 months, recipients will get a new residence permit (§§ 25a or 25b) if they have fulfilled the conditions of regular residency or return to a tolerated status again if they have not.

As of 31 June 2022, 247,290 tolerated persons were living in Germany.

Femi Awoniyi

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