Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Some refugees in Germany have family members in Syria whom they want to reunite with / Photo: © UNHCR

Germany: New law for family reunification for refugees takes off

A new act goes into effect in Germany on 1 August that will again allow refugees with subsidiary protection to bring their family members to Germany. Wesley Dockery of InfoMigrants takes a look at how the regulation works.

Since 2015, over a million refugees have come to Germany. Many of these refugees, whether they received full refugee protection or partial subsidiary protection, were bringing their families to Germany in a process called family reunification. In order to curb the number of refugees coming to Germany, the government decided to put a temporary hold on family reunification for refugees with subsidiary protection in March 2016.

That temporary hold expires on 1 August 2018. If you have subsidiary protection, you could again be eligible to bring some of your immediate family members to Germany. Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions about the new regulation.

Who does the new regulation affect?

The new regulation affects those with subsidiary protection. Subsidiary protection is when a refugee is not persecuted in their home country, but yet faces the danger of violence or torture if they return home. These refugees receive protection for one year in Germany, but it may be extended for two more years if certain conditions are met. 

Which family members can be brought to Germany?

Only immediate family members can be brought to Germany such as spouses, and underage children. Parents of underage children living in Germany can also be brought over.

What are the criteria for an individual with subsidiary protection to reunite their family in Germany?

There is no legal guarantee for family reunification. The German authorities will decide case by case, and take into account humanitarian grounds such as how long the family has been separated. If the person with subsidiary protection committed a crime or has little chance of staying long-term in Germany, family reunification will likely not be allowed by the German authorities. If the person with subsidiary protection already has housing or a job in Germany it could have a positive effect on bringing his/her family members to Germany.

How many people could come to Germany thanks to this new regulation?

There are currently 34,000 applications to the German authorities to make an appointment for family reunification. However, it is unclear how many of these cases are still up to date. Germany has limited the number of family members that can come to the country to 1,000 a month.

How does the application process work?

Applications can be submitted at German embassies and consulates abroad. In Amman, Beirut and Erbil, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) offices will handle the applications of those who want to come to Germany to be reunited with their families. If you don’t get an appointment the first time, there is no need to fill out a second application for you might be contacted at a later point in time.

All applications will be sent to Germany, where they will be checked by the Foreigner’s Registration Office. The Bundesverwaltungsamt (BVA) then makes the final decision on who can come to Germany, taking into account all criteria fixed by law. The BVA also keeps count on the monthly contingent of 1,000 people. If an application is accepted, the German authorities abroad will issue the visa – and the family members can embark on their journey.

© InfoMigrants

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