Registration of the asylum application

Germany

Country Report: Registration of the asylum application Last updated: 21/04/22

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Paula Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik Visit Website

Making and registering the application

Irrespective of special regulations which apply in the border region only, most applications are made by asylum seekers who have already entered the territory. Under these circumstances the law obliges asylum seekers to “immediately” report to a “reception facility” (Aufnahmeeinrichtung). Alternatively, they can report to a police station or to an office of the foreigners’ authorities.[1] At this stage of initial registration, personal data including photographs and fingerprints are collected and stored in the “Central Register of Foreigners” (Ausländezrentralregister (AZR)), to which a number of public authorities have access.[2] Following this first contact with the authorities, the asylum application has to be filed “immediately”. There is no strict definition of an “immediate” application and there are no exclusion rules for applications which are filed at a later date. However, a delay in filing the application may be held against the asylum seeker in the course of the asylum procedure, unless reasonable justification for the delay is brought forward.

Once asylum seekers have reported to the “reception facility” mentioned above, they have to be issued an “arrival certificate” (Ankunftsnachweis). Afterwards, the responsible branch office of the BAMF is determined with the help of distribution system known as Initial Distribution of Asylum Seekers (Erstverteilung der Asylbegehrenden, EASY). This distribution system allocates places according to a quota system known as “Königsteiner Schlüssel” based on the reception capacities of the Federal States. These capacities are determined by taking into account the size and the economic strength of the Federal States. Furthermore, the EASY-system takes into account which branch office of the BAMF deals with the asylum seeker’s country of origin (see section on Freedom of Movement).[3] It is possible that the EASY-system assigns a place in the facility to which asylum-seekers have reported. In this case, they are referred to the BAMF office, often located on the same premises or nearby, for the registration of the asylum application. If the EASY-system assigns a facility located in another region, asylum-seekers are transported to this facility or are provided with tickets to travel there on their own.

While the BAMF is responsible for the processing of the asylum application, responsibility for the reception and accommodation of asylum-seekers lies with the Federal States. Therefore, the regional branch offices of the BAMF are usually assigned to an initial reception centre managed by the Federal State. Both branch office and initial reception centre may in turn be parts of an “arrival centre” (Ankunftszentrum) or of an “AnkER-centre” (AnkER-Zentrum). The organisational structure and the denomination of these institutions depends on the way the Federal States have organised the reception system and how they cooperate with the BAMF at the respective location.

Only the BAMF is entitled to register an asylum application. Hence asylum seekers reporting to the police or to another authority will be referred to the BAMF and they do not have the legal status of asylum seekers as long as they have not arrived at the responsible branch office of the BAMF and until their applications have been lodged. However, persons with an arrival certificate (Ankunftsnachweis) are also entitled to minimum benefits according to the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act. Asylum seekers are obliged to appear in person without delay or on the date determined by the authorities at the responsible branch office of the BAMF. Asylum seekers who fail to comply with this obligation face the sanction of “failure to pursue” the asylum procedure. The asylum procedure thus can be abandoned before it has begun.[4] Problems with delayed registration of applications for which the authorities were responsible have not been reported in recent years.

Lodging the application

Once they arrive in the responsible branch office of the BAMF, which may be a part of an arrival centre or an AnkER centre, asylum seekers lodge their application with the BAMF. Following the lodging of the application, they are issued a “permission to stay for asylum seekers” (Aufenhaltsgestattung). With this document, the arrival certificate ceases to be valid and has to be retracted by the authorities.

While the application generally has to be lodged in person, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes in the application procedure. From 23 March 2020, the BAMF stopped in-person applications and allowed applications to submit their application for asylum by filling a form instead.[5] Application forms could be filled in in initial reception centres and sent to the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). Asylum interviews were reduced to a minimum in order to adapt the branch office facilities to hygiene and protection standards.[6] From May 2020, German authorities resumed registration and relevant services in person when the conditions in branch offices allowed for it.[7] Nonetheless, applications via written form are still possible as of early 2022 if this is necessary to comply with infection protection regulations.[8] For the subsequent applications, the written registration of applications was possible until 1 October 2021.[9] As of January 2022, BAMF facilities can be entered showing a “3 G certificate” proving vaccination, recovery from Covid-19 or a negative test.[10]

 

 

[1]  Section 13 Asylum Act.

[2]  BAMF, Arrival and registration, available at: https://bit.ly/3ItgFpW

[3]  BAMF, Asylum and refugee protection, available at: http://bit.ly/1O5qPus.  

[4]  Sections 20, 22 and 23 Asylum Act.  

[5] Information provided by the BAMF, 10 March 2022, see also Pro Asyl, ‘Newsticker Coronavirus: Informationen für Geflüchtete und Unterstützer*innen‘, available in German at https://bit.ly/3n5bqEe. According to the BAMF, the application via a form does not constitute a written application in the sense of Section 14 para.2 Asylum Act, since this would mean applicants would not be obliged to live in a reception centre, see BAMF, Entscheiderbrief 04/2020, 5, available in German at https://bit.ly/3JXIuYx

[6]  Information provided by the BAMF, 10 March 2022.

[7] ECRE, Information Sheet 28 May 2020: Covid-19 Measures Related to Asylum and Migration Across Europe, available at: https://bit.ly/3lMPtZD; ECRE, Information Sheet 7 December 2020: Covid-19 Measures Related to Asylum and Migration Across Europe, available at: https://bit.ly/3dDxnop, p.3.

[8]  Information provided by the BAMF, 10 March 2022.

[9] BAMF, ‘Weitere Themen (Stand: 20.12.). Informationen zu den Auswirkungen des Corona-Virus (COVID-19), die im Zusammenhang mit dem Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF) stehen. Available in German at https://bit.ly/3GirutF

[10] BAMF, ‘Weitere Themen (Stand: 20.12.). Informationen zu den Auswirkungen des Corona-Virus (COVID-19), die im Zusammenhang mit dem Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF) stehen. Available in German at https://bit.ly/3GirutF

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation