Grounds for reduction or withdrawal
Material reception conditions are reduced if the asylum seeker has an income, items of value or receives support from a third party.1 For the first phase of the asylum procedure (the admission stage), this rule is not applicable. If an asylum seeker earns money or receives support from other sources, they are allowed to keep €110; or €240 in Tyrol, there is no common practice across all federal provinces. All additional income will be requested as a financial contribution for the asylum seeker’s Basic Care. Reduction could also consist in not granting the monthly pocket money for subsistence or the support for the child if the child is entitled to child benefits, which mainly applies to those who have received refugee status.
Material reception conditions may be withdrawn where the asylum seeker:2
Repeatedly violates the house rules and/or his or her behaviour endangers the security of other inhabitants;
Leaves the designated place for more than 3 days, as it is assumed that they are no longer in need of Basic Care;
Has submitted a subsequent application;
Has been convicted by court for a crime on a ground which may exclude him or her from refugee status according to Article 1F of the Refugee Convention. This ground for withdrawal is not in line with Article 20 of the recast Reception Conditions Directive but does not seem to be applied or relevant in practice.
Since 20 July 2015, in the case the application is rejected or dismissed and suspensive effect was excluded according to Article 18(1) BFA-VG, benefits are terminated. If the applicant cooperates to return voluntarily, he or she is eligible to material reception conditions until his departure.3 The new regulation makes a reference to Article 20(5) of the recast Reception Conditions Directive according to this article a dignified living standard and access to medical treatment have to be provided.
In some federal provinces and the state, the laws also permit the exclusion of asylum seekers who fail to cooperate with establishing their identity and need of basic care, although this is not applied in practice.4
Withdrawal or reduction of Basic Care provisions should be decided by the BFA as long as asylum seekers are in the admissibility procedure and by the governmental office of the federal province if the asylum seeker is admitted to the procedure in merits and Basic Care is provided by one of the federal provinces. In practice, only few procedures of reduction or withdrawal of Basic Care have been carried out. This is partly because NGOs manage to arrange a solution for their clients, partly because the competent offices are unwilling to make a written decision. Decisions are taken on an individual basis but written reasoned decisions are rare.
Procedural safeguards in case of withdrawal or reduction do not fully meet the requirements set out in Article 20 of the recast Reception Conditions Directive. In some federal provinces, reduction or withdrawal of reception conditions may be ordered without prior hearing of the asylum seeker and without written notification of the decision. In some federal provinces, the latter is only rendered upon request of the asylum seeker. It has also happened that the reception conditions of all asylum seekers involved in a violent conflict in a reception facility were withdrawn without examination of the specific role of all individuals concerned in the conflict.
A legal remedy in the Basic Care Law of the Federal State is foreseen in case material reception conditions are withdrawn. Such decisions to withdraw or reduce Basic Care provision can be appealed at the Administrative Court (the Federal Administrative Court in case of a BFA decision, the Administrative Court of the federal provinces in case of decisions of the provincial government). Free legal assistance for appeal is provided in the law since 20 July 2015 and is now implemented in all federal provinces.
Asylum seekers whose Basic Care has been terminated or reduced may re-apply for the provision of basic care in the federal province they have been allocated to. In practice, it is difficult to receive Basic Care again after it has been terminated, or at least it takes some time to receive it again. Asylum seekers who endanger the security of other inhabitants are sometimes placed in other reception centres with lower standards. Asylum seekers who have left their designated place of living may get a place in another reception centre in the same federal province after applying for Basic Care.
If Basic Care is withdrawn because the asylum seeker is no longer considered to be in in need of benefits, for example because they earn some money, they may receive Basic Care if it is proven that they are again in need of it. However, asylum seekers may end up homeless or in emergency shelters of NGOs mainly because they do not succeed in obtaining Basic Care after withdrawal or they have left the federal province for various reasons such as presence of community, friends or family in other federal provinces, unofficial job offers and so forth.