Assessing legal service in the pursuit of their application is a major challenge for asylum-seekers because they cannot afford the required fees. An initiative works to help refugees overcome this challenge. Refugee law clinics across Germany offer legal advice to refugees. This is a free service and most of the volunteers are university law students who have specialized in asylum law.
If you have questions regarding your asylum application or want to know about your chances of getting a work permit, a Refugee Law Clinic (RLC) might be able to help you out. There are over 28 such clinics in Germany. They are non-profit associations, made up of volunteer law students who offer free consultations and advice to refugees.
“At the Refugee Law Clinic Mainz, we offer consultations to refugees and asylum seekers who live in Mainz and its surroundings – no matter the age, the gender, the nationality, or the religion,” says Kathi Veit, the spokesperson at the RLC Mainz. All volunteer members at the RLC are supported and trained by fully qualified lawyers and law professors who make up the association’s advisory committee.
Many refugees seek advice about family reunification or what it means if they received a limited permit to stay (“Duldung”) in response to their asylum application.
“We can also help if asylum-seekers have questions regarding their hearing at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees”, Kathi Veit explains. “We can help them prepare for that interview.”
How it works
Making an appointment is easy: There is an online form on the website where you fill out your name, your preferred date for an appointment and whether you need a translator.
“Noting the topic that you’re seeking advice on is also important, so that our consultants can prepare for the appointment,” Kathi Veith says.
Once you’ve sent in your request, you will hear back from the RLC within a couple of days and be given an appointment, Kathi explains. You will meet with two consultants from the team. If your question can be answered straight away, they will write back to you after they have consulted with attorneys. “If the enquiry is really complex, there might be a second appointment,” Kathi Veit says.
“If one of our clients has to go to court, we can hand over the case to one of our attorneys.”
What Refugee Law Clinics don’t do
It’s important to note that Refugee Law Clinics are not permitted to give advice on issues unrelated to asylum law, for example, advice about criminal law or questions regarding rental law. An RLC member cannot represent you in court because he or she is not yet fully qualified to work as a lawyer.
Here is an overview of all RLCs that are part of the German RLC network.