Name in English
Number of staff
Is there any political interference possible by the responsible Minister with the decision making in individual cases by the first instance authority?
Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)
6,980 (about 3,600 full-time positions in various asylum departments)
Federal Ministry of Interior
The BAMF is responsible for examining applications for international protection and competent to take decisions at first instance.
The BAMF has branch offices in all Federal States. The branch offices process the asylum procedures, but also carry out additional tasks (for instance, they function as contact points for authorities and organisations active in the area of integration of foreign nationals). In cooperation with the Federal States, the BAMF manages a distribution system for asylum seekers known as Initial Distribution of Asylum Seekers (Erstverteilung der Asylbegehrenden, EASY) system, which allocates places according to a quota system known as “Königsteiner Schlüssel”. The quota is based on the size and the economic strength of the Federal States in which the centres are located. Furthermore, the system takes into account which branch office of the BAMF deals with an asylum seeker's country of origin.
As of February 2020, the BAMF had 6,980 positions or “full-time job equivalents” (meaning that the actual number of staff is likely to be much higher, since many of these positions are shared by people working part-time). Since the office is responsible for several other tasks on top of the asylum procedure (e.g. research, integration), not all staff members are working in the area of asylum.
The government provided the following numbers for positions in the relevant departments:
- asylum department (excluding revocation and Dublin procedures): 1,998 full-time equivalents
- revocation procedures: 830.3 full-time equivalents
- procedures (appeal procedures, representation of the BAMF in court): 370.6 full-time equivalents
- quality management: 223.5 full-time equivalents
- Dublin-procedures: 174.4 full-time equivalents
In total, this amounts to 3,596.8 full-time equivalents for jobs in the departments which deal with asylum procedures.
The quality of BAMF asylum decisions has been much debated in recent years given the high number of appeals filed at the courts, but also because of “scandals” which prompted extensive media coverage. In 2017, one of these cases became known as the “Franco A. scandal”. It concerned a German soldier who had successfully posed as a Syrian refugee, allegedly preparing a terrorist attack. In 2018, alleged irregularities at a branch office of the BAMF in the Federal State of Bremen triggered the “BAMF-affair”: According to allegations (partly from staff members of the Bremen branch office), the office had taken over a high number of cases for which it had not been responsible and had unlawfully granted refugee status to up to 1,200 asylum seekers. These reports resulted in re-examinations of tens of thousands of decisions. According to preliminary results of the revision, it appears that the allegations in the “BAMF-affair” have been wildly exaggerated: out of 43,298 cases which were re‑examined in the first half of 2018, only 309 (0.7%) resulted in a revocation of a protection status, while the original decision taken by the BAMF was confirmed in more than 99% of cases (see Cessation and Review of Protection Status).
In the course of the debate on the quality of BAMF decisions, it turned out that many decision-makers had not been fully qualified as they had not completed the training modules which the BAMF provides as part of its in-house training programme. According to a media report, based on information submitted by the BAMF, 454 decision-makers had not received any kind of relevant training in May 2017, although most of them had been handling asylum applications for many months at the time. As of February 2018, the number of decision-makers without any relevant training had been reduced to 36, according to the report. Nevertheless, 769 out of 2,139 staff members who were deciding on asylum applications as of February 2018 had not completed the full training programme.
According to the BAMF, training measures at the in-house qualification centre had fully resumed by 2019. Newly employed decision-makers had to complete a 12‑week course which included the following modules:
- Refugee law,
- Interview techniques
- Preparation of decision-making
- Data protection
- Dublin system
- Cooperation with security services
- Information service point and Database Medical Country of Origin Information (MedCoi)
- Physical/technical examination of documents
In addition, the following EASO-ETC core modules were used for training of all decision-makers:
- Granting of protection
- Interview techniques
- Assessment of evidence
Furthermore, there are other training schemes available for persons who already work as decision-makers. These are carried out on a “regular basis” according to the BAMF and consist of the following modules.
- Interviewing children
- interviewing vulnerable Persons
- Gender, Gender Identity and sexual Orientation
This information provided by the BAMF suggests that there has been a clear improvement of the situation at the office in comparison to the years 2016 and 2017.
 Federal Government, Response to information request by The Left, 19/18498, 2 April 2020, 66.
 Federal Government, Reply to parliamentary question by The Left, 19/3451, 19 July 2018, available in German at https://bit.ly/2O4R3nV; Süddeutsche Zeitung, ‘Nur wenige Flüchtlinge haben Bleiberecht erschlichen’, 20 August 2018, available in German at https://bit.ly/2MsHLED.
 BAMF, Response to information request, e-mail from “Zentrale Ansprechstelle” (central contact point), 28 August 2019; see also: Federal government, Response to parliamentary question by The Left, 6 June 2019, 19/10733, 13.