Germany > Asylum
Last update: August 2016
The following information is independent information collected by activists of Welcome to Europe who struggle together with you for freedom of movement and the right to stay. We collected these informations from different sources (special thanks to Informationsverbund Asyl und Migration and Pro Asyl who collect such kind of information and we copied a lot from them!).
Written information is now very important. So many people get their asylum interviews in these months in Germany that sometimes we cannot find the time any more to speak with everyone one by one. Nevertheless: We are only able to offer you some general pieces of advice in this text. This is why it is best if you see a lawyer before the interview, or if you go to an advice center for refugees.
How do I find help to prepare for my asylum interview?
There are a number of independent organizations in Germany that advise refugees for free. Ask the social workers in your camps for example, where to go. Some useful contacts you can find here collected by Welcome to Europe: http://w2eu.info/germany.en/articles/germany-contacts.en.html
More can be found at refugeewelcomepad: https://refugeeswelcomepad.wordpress.com/legal-advice-counceling/germany/
There is the possibility to call a „First Aid“-Hotline at PRO ASYL via telephone: https://www.proasyl.de/en/pro-asyl-advice-in-individual-cases/ Or here, collected in a map, done by Pro Asyl as well you can find many local initiatives: https://www.proasyl.de/ehrenamtliches-engagement/
Another overview about consulting centres in the federal states can be found on the websites of the federal migration councils: https://www.proasyl.de/beratungsstellen-vor-ort/
How long do I have to wait for my asylum interview in Germany?
This question is very difficult to answer: there is no “order” and the system is very chaotic. It can be that people will be registered and interviewed very quickly and it can be that people wait even for many months until their asylum application is officially registered. This was especially the case in 2015 when many people came to Germany.
Now finally something happens and the authorities speeded up the procedures. Within the next days, weeks and months many people will finally have there interviews. Some of those waited already for 3 years for it. Most probably the procedures will be quicker in the next weeks and months and most of the newcomers will not have to wait so long. But who knows.
Nevertheless it is good to start as early as possible to prepare for the asylum interview!
Where do I find detailed information in my language to prepare for the asylum interview?
To prepare for the interview in front of the migration office (“Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge – BAMF”), please print the following document in your language and read it all once to understand better the procedure itself and to start the preparation. Help people around you, who cannot read enough to understand to find assistance!
Bosnian/ Serbo-Croatian: http://www.asyl.net/fileadmin/user_upload/infoblatt_anhoerung/Infoblatt_2015_bosn_fin.pdf
What happens in the first interview?
First of all you will be asked about your personal data and the data of your relatives. It is very important that you name all of them correctly – especially if you might have the chance later to bring your family members (wife/husband and children under 18 years old) to join you in Germany via family reunification.
Secondly you will be asked about your travelling route. How did you come to Germany? Which countries did you cross on your way?
Most probably you will be once more fingerprinted (if this was not done already before) and the fingerprints will be checked in the European database if you have already given fingerprints in any other EU country (or Switzerland, Norway and Iceland).
Right now, it may also happen that you will even have your asylum interview immediately at this first appointment! This means you have to be prepared also to answer the questions why you had to leave your country of origin and why you cannot return there.
It can be that you will do the full interview with all three parts:
1) Personal data of you and your relatives and first few questions on the travelling route
2) Longer interview only on the travelling route
3) Asylum interview about your reasons to flee from your country of origin
It can also happen that you will only do the first or the second part and you will get invited later to the second or third part. There is in the moment no clear structure and often you cannot even understand from the invitation which questions will be asked. So it is recommended to be prepared for all three parts of the interview.
What happens if I have been fingerprinted in another EU country (or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland) before? What is Dublin?
Many European states including Germany have agreed with each other that only one of them should be responsible for processing an individual’s specific asylum application. This is why these states agreed a contract with each other in the Irish capital Dublin. The procedure through which responsibility is determined is therefore known as “the Dublin procedure”. The Dublin procedure can be used to decide that your asylum procedure must be processed in another European state, and not in Germany. This is possible
• if you have already applied for asylum in another EU state
• if the authorities in another EU state have already registered you
• if you entered Germany with a visa from another EU state
• if there is any other evidence available which shows that you spent time in another EU state.
In Germany usually Dublin-deportations are dependent on fingerprints or visa from other EU countries. Other proofs or only saying that you have been in another country will usually not lead to the start of a Dublin-procedure to this country.
Fingerprints from Greece are no problem, because there are (at least until January 2017) no deportations to Greece. Fingerprints from for example Macedonia or Serbia are not a problem as these countries are not in EU.
But if the authorities find your fingerprints for example from Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria or from Austria or Switzerland then there will be more questions about your way to travel in the second interview. Please read then more on how to stop a Dublin-deportation here: http://w2eu.info/germany.en/articles/germany-dublin2.en.html
Some hints for the interview on your way to travel:
1. It is important to emphasize/explain everything that happened to you in this country: for example beatings, imprisonment, homelessness, lack of medical support, push backs.
2. It is also important to mention, if you was before a victim of shipwreck or if you had other very bad experiences on your way.
3. It can be important when you mention all relatives in Germany - even if they are aunts, nephews, cousins – when you need them or they need you, this might be another reason not to deport according Dublin.
What is asylum? What are the main questions of the asylum-interview?
The asylum interview is mainly about two questions:
1) What happened in the country of origin? / Were you persecuted in your country of origin?
2) What would happen, if you return to your country of origin?
The central question is whether you have already experienced persecution, or whether you would have to fear persecution, if you returned to your country of origin. The primary elements of persecution are seen as
- threats to life,
- physical injuries and
But other human rights’ violations can be categorized as persecution, if they have serious consequences of a similar extent. The asylum procedure also determines whether you had to suffer human rights’ violations because of particular “criteria”. These can be a person’s attributes – for example skin colour, gender (problems you had because you have been oppressed as a woman) or sexual orientation – but can also be political or religious convictions. It can be also military service and forced recruitment.
Even if no danger of persecution can be determined, the evaluation of your asylum application is not yet finished. In addition, the BAMF has to determine if you are threatened with other dangers in your country of origin. Particularly, serious health dangers caused by an illness must be taken into account here. It is very important to mention serious health problems. Be it physical or be it psychological.
Moreover, it is determined whether you are threatened with serious risks to your body, life or freedom, for example because of a war or civil war in your country.
Another important issue is whether you had the possibility of finding protection in another location before fleeing to Germany. This could be another state or another region in your country of origin. If the German authorities decide that you are able to find protection in another place and are able to return there, then you could be refused protection in Germany. This belongs especially to countries, where some parts of the country are seen by the German authorities as “relatively safe”, sometimes this seems crazy, when they for example consider Kabul in Afghanistan as a safe region, even if there are all the time bomb-blasts. So check before the interview, what might be seen as safe regions.
What happens at the interview?
The interview often begins with up to 25 questions. These are about your personal circumstances – for example about your marital partner, children, parents and your job – and about your journey to Germany. If these questions have already been asked when your asylum application was registered then the BAMF staff member will only touch upon them briefly.
You will then be given the opportunity to talk about your reasons for fleeing. Now you have to describe why you fled from your country of origin. An extensive and exact description (if possible with detailed dates and a chronology) will increase the chances that the BAMF staff member will believe your statements. Explain exactly what you personally have to fear if you have to return to your home country. Never begin with a description of the general political situation in your home country. At the end you should mention the general circumstances, but it is crucial that you start with your individual, personal situation as detailed as possible.
Please do not circumscribe or “talk around” events or experiences, for example, “my family had problems with the police”, but describe instead exactly what you experienced. The following questions can provide a structure to help you:
• “What happened and how exactly did events unfold?” (to you, your family, your relatives)
• “When and where did it happen?”
• “Why did it happen?
Even though an exact description is important, that does not mean that you have to remember all details or that you have to “think up” answers to all questions. It is for example normal if you cannot remember the exact date of an incident that happened quite long ago. You should not guess or make up a date in such cases. This could lead to contradictions within your statements. Just say that you cannot recall the exact date and aim to communicate roughly when it was with the help of other dates. For example: “about two weeks after my father’s birthday”, or “it must have been in winter, because I was wearing warm clothes.”
Sometimes “stories” circulate among asylum-seekers, which it is said will make the BAMF grant you recognition. Do not allow these to influence you under any circumstances. The BAMF staff know the situation in your country of origin and will mostly notice quickly if you tell them an untrue story. This can lead to them not believing anything you say, even your true statements.
It is possible, after you have given your answers, that BAMF staff then ask follow-on questions to particular points. You should not limit yourself to give short answers to these questions, but you should instead talk about all important issues, even if you are not specifically asked about them.
Only start to answer questions after you have understood them. If you are unsure, ask again what they mean.
Please try to recall important details before the interview. You could write down the most important dates and events in advance. That will help you to sort out your memories and to recognize possible contradictions. However, do not give personal notes like these to the BAMF, and do not take them with you to your interview. Otherwise, BAMF staff members may think that you are only retelling a ready-made story. Prepare yourself for the fact that you may have to report about experiences that are painful, or are a psychological burden for you.
It is no problem at all, if the interview takes a longer time. It is important that you tell everything from your personal reasons and if this takes long it is no matter.
Do I need documents to prove what I am saying?
If you have written evidence about being persecuted, please submit this at the interview at the latest, if not before. These can be documents – for example documents from government agencies, about your imprisonment, certificates from political parties, religious communities etc. – or they can be newspaper reports or photos about experiences which directly affected you. Also documents about your political activities here in Germany are important. The BAMF retains all these papers on file. Demand that the BAMF make a copy of your papers.
If you think that friends or relatives could send you important documents from your home country, then say this to the BAMF. Such documents can be very useful as evidence.
Nevertheless, what is decisive is what you say at the interview. Also if you do not have any proves: if they believe you are telling the truth you can be granted asylum. Do NEVER submit any false documents. If these are recognized as forgeries, this can lead to all your statements being seen as unbelievable.
Explain also your injuries, health problems, psychological problems, trauma. Such health problems might also contribute, that you cannot be deported. All document from doctors about this can be also handed in.
What are no reasons for asylum?
If you came to Germany
to find a job
to find a better life
to study at university
to play football
this is something to discuss with friends, employers, teachers and football-trainers, but NOT during the asylum-interview!
What if I don’t understand the translator?
An interpreter/translator will be present at the interview. Inform the BAMF as soon as possible which language you want to speak at the interview. This should be the language you can speak best. If you are a woman and wish to have a female interpreter, then you are entitled to tell the BAMF about this (the same if you want the interview done by a women). You will need help to change this, so if you have this kind of needs look for counselling before!
The interpreter must interpret correctly and in details. He or she only has the task of translating both your statements and questions of the BAMF staff member. He or she should not make any comments. If you have the impression that the interpreter is not fulfilling this task, please communicate this to the BAMF staff member. If big problems of understanding occur, request that the interview be conducted with another interpreter. Do demand at the very least that your criticism be recorded in the transcript.
Can I bring someone with me to the interview?
It is possible that a “person of trust” – meaning a person that you trust – takes part in the interview. This can be a friend – female or male – or an adviser. However, it is normally not possible to choose a family member who has also submitted an asylum application to be your person of trust. If a person of trust is to take part in the interview with you, please inform the Federal Office as soon as possible. It is particularly useful when this person is competent in both your language and in German. The person of trust may not however give reasons for your application.
Usually lawyers will not accompany you to the interview, only unaccompanied minors (youth under 18 years old who are without parents) will be usually accompanied.
What to do if I receive a negative decision?
You will receive the BAMF’s decision about your asylum application in writing – called in German “Bescheid” meaning “official decision”. This is why you need to check whether post has arrived every day after the interview. If you already have a lawyer, then it is possible that the “Bescheid” is sent to your attorney’s office. Make sure that your legal counsel can contact you at all times.
If your asylum application is refused, then you have the right to appeal against this decision in court. However, you have only a short time in which to do this. Take notice of what is written on the first page of your “Bescheid”:
• If “the asylum application has been refused” is written on page one, then you normally have two weeks to submit an appeal to the court.
• In many cases, “the application for recognition of asylum status has been refused because it is ‘offensichtlich unbegründet’ (meaning: manifestly unfounded)”, is written on page one of your decision. Then you have only seven days to submit a written request to the court.
• If “The asylum application has been refused because it is ‘unzulässig’ (inadmissible)” is written on the first page, then the BAMF has decided based on the “Dublin procedure” that another EU state is responsible for your application. You are therefore being requested to submit your asylum application in this EU state. In this case, you also have only one week to submit a written request to the court.
If you do not get the blue passport, you can do an appeal as well.
In all of these cases, you should approach your lawyer or an advice center, if possible on the same day you receive your written decision (usually in a yellow envelope/as yellow letter). A really quick reaction is necessary and latest at this step it is necessary to take a lawyer. If you take a lawyer please ask before experienced people who can be recommended. There are many lawyers, who will take your money, but they will do nothing. You will need to pay for the lawyer, usually they will take an amount of money in the beginning and then monthly rates. To have an experienced lawyer in asylum- and Dublin-procedures is a very important “investment” in your future.