Almost 54,000 people have now received a residence permit through the right of residence programme (Chancen-Aufenthaltsrecht) introduced just over a year ago by the German government. The amnesty scheme opens up a path to a long-term right of residence for tolerated persons.
According to a survey conducted by Mediendienst Integration Service, 75,345 people have applied for a residence permit to date. Around 53,972 residence permits have been issued while about 4,000 applications have been rejected, it said. The total number of applications submitted is likely to be higher, as complete data has not been collected everywhere for the entire period.
The Right of Residence Opportunities Act, which came into force on 31 December 2022, applies to persons who have resided in Germany for at least five years on the cut-off date of 31 October 2022 with a tolerated residence permit. Together with their family members, they can receive a type of probationary residence permit for 18 months.
At the end of the 18 months, a permanent right of residence is to be granted to anyone who is able to support themselves for the most part, can demonstrate sufficient knowledge of German and has a clarified identity, or “has taken all necessary and reasonable measures to clarify their identity”.
As research by Mediendienst Integration shows, in several federal states tolerated persons have already fulfilled the requirements before the 18 month-probationary period expired and have therefore already received a corresponding residence permit.
Tolerated persons are people who are obliged to leave the country but cannot be deported for certain reasons – for example because they have no identity documents or are ill. The tolerated stay is always limited in time.
Offenders and people who have “repeatedly and wilfully provided false information” about their identity, thereby preventing their deportation, are not eligible for a residence permit.
According to a spokesperson for the Federal Ministry of the Interior, there were 248,182 tolerated foreigners in Germany as of 31 October 2022, 137,373 of whom had been living in the country for more than five years.
Due to the success of the amnesty scheme, the Green Party has now advocated its extension to other foreigners living in Germany with a tolerated status. “The successful model should be continued and more people should benefit from it,” suggested Filiz Polat, a Green member of the Bundestag, on Thursday. “The Ministry of the Interior should take this into account in a future reform and review the cut-off date,” Ms Polat told the German Press Agency
In Polat’s view, the cut-off date could either be removed from the law entirely or replaced by a new cut-off date that would expand the group of tolerated persons eligible for the opportunity to stay.
Alexander Throm, the CDU’s domestic policy spokesperson, however, is not in favour of either option. “It was foreseeable from the outset that there would be a discussion about extending the cut-off date for the right to stay, and I have always warned against this,” says the CDU MP.