Asylum seekers are entitled to reception conditions as defined in the Asylum Seekers' Benefits Act (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz) from the moment their application has been registered and as long as they have the status of asylum seeker (Aufenthaltsgestattung). This usually includes the whole period of appeal procedures, but asylum seekers may also lose the status following the authorities' decision if the application has been rejected as “manifestly unfounded” or “inadmissible” and no emergency legal protection is granted. In spite of its title, the law applies not only to asylum seekers, but also to people with a “tolerated stay” (Duldung) and even to certain groups of people who have been granted a temporary residence permit.
Due to the massive increase in numbers of newly arriving asylum seekers in 2014 and 2015, the BAMF had not managed to keep up with the registration of applications in those years. With the numbers of newly arriving asylum seekers having decreased significantly in 2016 (280,000 in 2016 in comparison to an estimated 890,000 in 2015) and with the authorities having opened new offices and “arrival centres”, the backlog of unregistered asylum applications has been cleared at the end of 2016. Therefore, the legal status of asylum seekers, including their access to benefits under the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act, is now generally indisputable, unlike the situation in 2015 and early 2016 when asylum seekers often had to wait many months for their applications to be registered and their access to social benefits had not been clearly regulated in law during this period.
If asylum seekers have income or capital at their disposal, they are legally required to use up these resources before they can receive benefits under the Asylum Seekers' Benefits Act.1 This provision does not seem to be applied often in practice, however.
As a rule, asylum seekers receive both non-cash and cash financial benefits only in the town or district to which they have been sent. Accordingly, they will not be entitled to benefits in other parts of Germany, unless they get a permission by the authorities to move to another place.
- 1. Section 7 Asylum Seekers' Benefits Act.