Asylum in Austria
last update: March 2016
If you apply for Asylum in Austria your application will be first checked concerning Dublin III (mostly at the police station). If you pass this step positively, the next step of your application will be dealt with in one of the country's reception centers (german.: “Verteilerquartier”). There, it will be decided in which type of facility you will be housed during the procedure of your application.
If the police picks you up somewhere on the street you can also ask for asylum at the police station. Officially you are legally obliged to immediately ask for asylum once you have entered Austrian territory, otherwise the police can give you a fine for “illegal stay”. Keep this in mind in your first contact with the authorities or the police. State very clearly that you are applying for asylum (german: “Ich möchte Asyl”) and repeat it if you are being handed over to another police officer or moved to another unit! If you apply for asylum at the police they will search your luggage (for “security reasons” but also to find documents and evidences about how you have come to Austria). They ask for your name, date of birth, citizenship and language; and your fingerprints will be taken. In case they find out that you have been somewhere else in the EU you can be be sent back to the respective country (see: Dublin III). You will have a small first interview about how you came to Austria and -rather shortly- about why you left your home country. This interview will be done by a police officer. Whatever you tell them will be written down and used in the whole procedure – so be clear about what you say and try to memorize it. If you are a minor they will maybe send you to doctors in order to find out your age. Try to stick to one age indication and to one story and not change it anymore as changes made by you at a later point could be problematic for your asylum claim. Please note: Legally it is possible to be held in custody up to 48hrs before this first interview, so be prepared that this might happen.
If you are within the Dublin procedure or if you are a minor you will be brought to one of the three Federal Reception Centers in Traiskirchen (bigger) or Thalham (smaller) or Schwechat Airport (if you arrived by plane). NOTE: If you get a negative Dublin decision, you have only one week to make an appeal! In case of a negative Dublin decision, the Austrian state has to deport you within a time frame of 6 months (starting from the day the receiving Dublin country has sent the positive confirmation). If they do not manage to deport you within this time, Austria has to take responsibility for your case. If, at any point during these 6 months, you are not registered in Austria (have a “Meldezettel”) or are not available to authorities, this time-frame can expand to 18 months.
If your case is not a Dublin case you can get the “white card”, meaning that the authority BFA (“Bundesamt für Fremdenwesen und Asyl”) is responsible for your asylum claim. Getting the white card, in -almost- all cases means that your application will be handled in Austria. As the next step of your procedure in Austria, you will be invited for an extensive interview where you can explain your reason for your asylum application. This interview will be carried out by the BFA. You will be asked about your reasons for leaving your home country and your specific situation there. And they will try to find out whether what you say is true or not. Try to be as precise as you can, try to be detailed and be coherent (try not to produce contradictions regarding what you say and said in the first questioning). Don't invent things that you're not completely sure about (dates, places, names etc..), in these cases it's better to say that you “don't remember exactly”. Women have the right to be interviewed by a female official in case of gender specific issues.
IMPORTANT: During the interviews, you should always be provided with an interpreter that fluently speaks your language. The interpreter will translate everything you say (it will be written down by the authorities). If you have any doubts about what is written down or about the translation by the interpreter do not sign either the specific page or the whole interview and contact legal aid as soon as possible.
If you apply for asylum the first thing that happens is that it will be checked whether you have passed any other countries of the European Union. Therefore it is very, very important to understand that any evidence (train tickets, money, etc.), that indicates that you have been to other EU countries before, will be used against you by the police! If you tell them that you have been to another EU country, this will count as evidence for them to try to enforce Dublin III as well! If you have fingerprints in the EURODAC database from another country, chances are high that they will find out.
Card System during asylum application:
Green card: During the acceptance procedure (Dublin and age test) you will be provided with a green card – this card does not yet guarantee that your application will be dealt with in Austria.
White card: Once Austria has accepted to take your case, you will be provided with the white card. This card should enable you to move freely within Austria. Please note that once you have been transferred to a new facility, it is important to stay registered there as to receive some “pocket money” and insurance.
Grey card: This card means that you got subsidiary protection (more info below).
Yellow card: After a negative asylum decision, there is a chance to receive the yellow card. This means having a special status called “Duldung”. Your possibilities in this case depend a lot on the details of your application. The yellow card does not prevent you from being deported but at the same time might offer a way back to a legal status. You should get in contact with legal aid to see what steps to take.
The second step – once it is clear, that you are not within a possible Dublin III procedure your asylum claim shifts from the “acceptance procedure” (“Zulassungsverfahren”) to the “content based procedure” (inhaltliches Verfahren) and -depending on the current housing availability- you should be transferred to smaller refugee housing facilities in Austria. The location of this transfer is connected to a quota-system and is almost impossible to influence unless for very drastic reasons (specific sickness, close family etc..). From this point on until the end of your asylum procedure you should have access to free medical insurance and some money given by the state called: “Grundversorgung”.
Based on the information from your interviews as well as their own research, the BFA will decide about your asylum claim. Please note that this can take a long time. You might be invited to further interviews and it is very common that even people who arrived at the same time can have quite differing waiting times concerning the decisions about their asylum claim.
IMPORTANT: The time allowed to make a legal appeal against a decision by the BFA is 2 weeks (4 weeks for minors)! You need to be within this time-frame the Austrian government has set up for a valid appeal – so make sure you never ignore any official letters and try to reach a lawyer or one of the NGOs in time if you want to appeal against a BFA decision. After an appeal against a BFA decision another legal body, the Higher Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) will check your asylum application again - this can take up to months.
Independently from the asylum decision you may get a one-year visa (which after this year can be prolonged to a two-year visa – again it is very important not to miss the respite given!) as long as it is considered impossible to send you back to your country of origin due to the country being assessed by Austrian authorities as “not safe”. This type of visa is called subsidiary protection (german: “subsidiärer Schutz”). You will be allowed to work and -depending on your location- might also have access to social money called BMS (“Bedarfsorientierte Mindestsicherung”).
• You have the right to have a trustworthy person with you, when you have an interview etc. – so if you have the chance, contact one of the organisations mentioned above BEFORE you apply for asylum.
• There always needs to be a Dolmetsch (interpreter) with you whenever you are being questioned.
• They will always ask you to sign the transcriptions/the protocols of the various interviews. These transcriptions are written in German and will be translated for you by the Dolmetsch.
IMPORTANT: If you have any doubts whether the transcription or translation is according to what you said, do not sign. You have the right to refuse and/or you can also choose only certain pages you want to sign.
• Always ask for paper-copies – in every situation with the authorities (e.g. transcription of your interview, age check, medical check etc.)
• Try to pick up the documents that are being sent to you by post as soon as possible and contact one of the listed organisations for legal support!