Reception centres are open facilities and residents may leave the centre according to the house rules of the facility and are able to meet anyone outside. Family members do not often come to visit in practice, but they can enter the reception centres provided the asylum seeker living in the centre submits a written request to the authorities. If the family member does not have any available accommodation and there is free space in the reception centre, the management of the centre might provide accommodation to the family member visiting the asylum seeker.
There are only specific NGOs (listed in other Sections on Reception Conditions) who have a regular access to the reception centres without any issues. The former IAO unilaterally terminated the cooperation agreement (concluded in 1998) with HHC on 2 June 2017. The agreement entitled the HHC to enter reception or detention centres and conduct monitoring visits for asylum seekers, to provide free legal counselling and to request statistical data. The HHC conducted 21 monitoring visits (and prepared reports on these visits) since January 2015. Lacking free access to reception facilities, HHC lawyers and attorneys are able to meet asylum seekers upon their requests. As a result of the termination of the cooperation agreement asylum seekers do not have access to legal assistance on the premises of the reception centres. Asylum seekers may meet the lawyer of HHC in front of the reception facility.
UNHCR has full access to these facilities and does not need to send any prior notification to the NDGAP before its visit, but in practice does inform the NDGAP beforehand as a matter of courtesy.