Legal status of refugees

Last update : March 2017

Information on the different legal status refugees have in Germany before and after their decision on their asylum claim.

1. While in the asylum procedure and before receiving an answer

Temporary residence permit for asylum seekers (Aufenthaltsgestattung) according to § 55 Asylgesetz:

• They have the residence obligation , with the obligation to stay in a certain camp and municipality (Wohnverpflichtung). To change the municipality or certain camp is very difficult.
• There might be also a movement restriction. If they want to visit another city in Germany they have to make an application in the aliens office (Ausländerbehörde). Normally they should get permit to freely visit other cities in Germany after three months. But there are many exceptions. So they have to check what is written in their own document (Aufenthaltsgestattung). The restriction of movement is written there - if existing. If they still have the movement restriction in their document after six months they should ask the aliens office (Ausländerbehörde) to withdraw it.
Work is forbidden for the first three months. In case the refugee stays longer in the first reception center (Erstaufnahmeeinrichtung) this is prolonged.

For 12 months (fourth month after arrival until 15 th month) there is upon permit a secondary access to work (you look for a job, apply for a work permit, then it is examined if any German or European person could need that job first. But actually in the most parts of Germany this regulation is suspended. That means refugees have access to work like describe in the next sentence.)

Then for the next 33 months (16th until 48th months) you can get a work permit from the asylum service, while only the working conditions are examined (if they are equal to the ones of locals).

After 48 months of having a Aufenthaltsgestattung you can ask for a general work permit, which will be written in your document. But there are different reasons to reject the issuance of the work permit. If you find a work training (Berufsausbildung) you have to go to the aliens office (Ausländerbehörde) and ask for a permission.

• You get either social welfare money for asylum seekers (Asylbewerberleistungen) or in exchange you might get the things directly (i.e. food or clothes) and just get pocket money. You get emergency medical aid, and 143 Euro money monthly (amount for single adults in first reception). But this is handled very different in the several federal states in Germany. After 15 months in Germany your social welfare is increased to almost 400 Euro per month. In general the social welfare depends on if you still stay in first reception or not.
• You have the right to obligatory medical screenings, vaccination, child examinations (U1-U9).

2. Upon recognition

A. Recognition as political refugee (Asylberechtigung) according to article 16 a GG (German Constitution, i.e. national asylum right) and §25.1 Aufenthaltsgesetz or B. political refugee (Flüchtlingsanerkennung) according to §60.1 (i.e. Geneva Convention, Art. 13 RL 2011/95/EU) and §25.2, 1. Alternatives Aufenthaltsgesetz:

• Residence permit valid for three years
• Unlimited access to the labour market
• Social welfare money and integration course (German lessons)
• Family reunification only of core family, visa application has to be made in the first three months upon recognition. If you apply after these three months sufficient residence space and income must be secured and proven.

B. International subsidiary protection (internationaler subsidiärer Schutz) according to Art. 18 RL 2011/95/EU and §25.2, 2. Alternatives Aufenthaltsgesetz

• Residence permit for one year (renewable)
• Unlimited access to labour market
• Social welfare, access to integration course (German lessons)
• Family reunification is for those who got their Aufenthaltserlaubnis after the 17.03.2016 not possible until the 16.03.2018. After 16.03.2018 see under A..

C. National subsidiary protection (Abschiebeverbot) according to § 60 par. 5 or par. 7 Aufenthaltsgesetz and article §25 par. 3 Aufenthaltsgesetz

• Residence permit for one year (renewable)
• Unlimited access to labour market
• Restricted right to family reunification only for humanitarian reason and with secured income
• Social welfare, access to integration course (German lessons)

Attention! If you got your protection status after 1.1.2016 you also have a restriction of residence (Wohnsitzauflage). You have to live in the federal state or city where you carried out your asylum procedure for the next three years. If you moved before 06.08.2016 to another federal state or city you have to stay there. But moving inside the federal state is regulated differently in the different federal states. There are reasons like work, family and others to ask for a permission to change your city or federal state.

Attention! For persons with international subsidiary protection family reunification has been halted for two years for all persons who received first staying permission after 17.3.2016 and can only be applied for after 16.3.2018 again.


3. Upon rejection

You can appeal against rejection within one week if your claim was “obviously unfounded” (for example refugees from save countries). If your claim was just considered “unfounded” then you have two weeks to appeal. In case of appeal you keep the “Aufenthaltsgestattung” (legal right to stay) until the final decision.

Tolerance to stay (Duldung - Aussetzung der Abschiebung) according to § 60a Aufenthaltsgesetz:

• No legal status
• Residence restriction
• After three months regulated staying in Germany without work permit, limited access and job training possible
• After four years regulated staying in Germany you can access a job without an examination of the employer / job conditions but you have to get this general permission from the aliens office (Ausländerbehörde).
• If aliens office holds foreigner responsible for not being deported, work is not permitted
• For 15 months financial support by the asylum service (Asylbewerberleistungen) after this time regular social welfare (Sozialhilfe). If aliens office holds foreigner responsible for not being deported, the money will be cut down
• If the asylum claim has been rejected as “obviously unfounded” and you come from a save country there is a re-entry prohibition of one year.
• Family reunification is generally not possible, but there are very few emergency cases where exceptions might be made.