According to Section 25(2) of the Residence Act, both refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries are entitled to a residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis). According to Section 26(1) of the Residence Act, the duration of residence permits differs for the various groups:
- Three years for persons with refugee status;
- One year for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, renewable for an additional two years;
- At least one year for beneficiaries of humanitarian
Responsibility for issuing and renewing the residence permits lies with the local authorities of the place of residence of the beneficiary of protection. In 2017 the Federal government introduced the Act to Improve
Online Access to Administrative Services, following which most of the administrative services should be made available online by 2022. In the field of Migration inter alia the application for the issuance and renewal of residence permits, the application for citizenship and social benefits for beneficiaries of and applicants for international protection or subsidiary protection shall be made possible. However, the first evaluations on the implementation show that only very few of the overall administrative services have been moved online and that the online availability sometimes means that a pdf document with the application form can be downloaded but without the possibility to hand in the form and the necessary documents online. According to the evaluation the main reason for the delay are unclear responsibilities between the Federal level, the states and the municipalities.
Renewal of residence permits is generally subject to the same regulations as apply to issuance. Therefore, residence permits have to be renewed as long as the reasons which have led to the first issuance persist. The refugee status, subsidiary protection, and the status of the so-called ‘prohibition of removal’ (Abschiebungsverbot) which is the basis of national protection status, have to be formally revoked by the BAMF, otherwise the residence permit has to be issued and/or renewed.
Following the outbreak of covid-19 in Germany, the Federal Ministry of the interior issued guidance to local immigration authorities and recommended to allow for online applications to extend residence permits, and to be lenient regarding the expiry of residence permit when filing for renewal was impossible, e. g. because the concerned person could not return to Germany. Residence permits were not prolonged automatically, however. Whether an online application is possible depends on the respective foreigners’ authority. However, an application in written form (via e-mail or mail) is possible in all cases. It has been reported that many beneficiaries of international protection did not know about the newly introduced possibility to apply via e-mail or mail and that the local authorities in many cases did not process the mails in time. The Refugee Council Berlin therefore recommended to include deadlines for responses in all communication concerning the renewal of residence permits.
 Federal Ministry of Interior, OZG-Umsetzungskatalog, April 2018.
 Deutschlandfunk, Deutschland bleibt offline, 16 December 2022, available in German at: http://bit.ly/3JpZZCR.
 Section 8(1) Residence Act.
 Sections 73a to 73c Residence Act.