|Name in English||Number of staff||Ministry responsible||Is there any political interference possible by the responsible Minister with the decision making in individual cases by the determining authority?|
|Federal Agency for Immigration and Asylum (BFA)||1,031||Ministry of Interior||Yes|
Source: Ministry of Interior, Answer to parliamentary request 13740/AB, 20 April 2023, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3Nfata9.
The BFA is the determining authority responsible for examining applications for international protection and competent to take decisions at first instance as well as for residence permits on exceptional humanitarian grounds and certain Aliens’ Police proceedings. It is an administrative body falling under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior. The BFA has its headquarters in Vienna and one regional directorate in each of the Provinces. Further organisational units of the BFA are the initial reception centres (EAST). Additional field offices of the regional directorates may be established in the Provinces.
As of December 2022, the BFA had 1,031 staff members, compared to 1,039 at the end of 2021. However, all staff of the BFA are not caseworkers, i.e. the personnel of the determining authority responsible for examining and assessing an application for international protection. Out of the 1,031 officials of the BFA, 420 were caseworkers (compared to 440 in 2021). The majority of these caseworkers were permanent staff.
The BFA has developed its own internal guidelines which are used by caseworkers on a daily basis to examine and decide on applications for international protection. However, these are not publicly available and civil society organisations do not have access to them. Nevertheless, country of origin information (COI) reports that are produced by the BFA are published on its website.
As regards quality assurance and control, the BFA has established both quality assurance and quality control mechanisms, with quality assessors (Qualitätssicherer) specifically dedicated to that end. The quality assessors of the BFA are responsible for double-checking decisions, providing support and guidance to caseworkers and contributing to their development. They are present in all offices of the BFA and meet every three months in the form of a networking event. However, the results of quality assurance and control is not published nor accessible to external entities. The results are only shared with management staff and quality assessors, who subsequently discuss the results with caseworkers.
It should be noted that there is an ongoing cooperation with UNHCR to develop specific assessment methods for the evaluation of asylum procedures. UNHCR selects the focus point for the assessment of the decisions and provides samples of interviews and decisions to train quality assessors of the BFA accordingly. UNHCR can further be consulted in specific procedures, such as the airport procedure.