Three-year pilot program (2012-2014)
In December 2011, the German Minister of the Interior, Hans-Peter Friedrich, announced that Germany as of 2012 will participate in the resettlement program of the UN refugee agency, initially in the context of a three-year pilot program. Between 2012 and 2014, 300 refugees with special protection needs were admitted to Germany per year.
- In 2012, African refugees who were stuck in refugee camps in Tunisia and Egypt at the Lebanese border entered Germany as well as some refugees from Iraq who arrived from Turkey.
- In 2013, the program again facilitated the admission of Iraqi and Iranian refugees from Turkey.
- In 2014, Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka who previously stayed in Indonesia could enter Germany.
Permanent participation in the resettlement program (since 2015)
After the successful completion of the pilot program, the German Federal Government decided to continue its activities in the field of resettlement. The number of persons to be admitted was increased to 500 for 2015. Since then, Germany has been admitting a quota of 500 refugees each year.
- 500 refugees from Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq and Syria entered Germany in 2015.
- In 2016, Syrian refugees arrived from Turkey.
The first steps in Germany
In the first two weeks after their arrival, the refugees are accommodated in the first reception facility in the reception center Friedland. On the one hand, targeted exchange and information meetings with resettlement refugees who have already been living in Germany are held there in order to alleviate the fears and insecurities of the new arrivals and to align their expectations with the life in Germany. On the other hand, the refugees receive assistance and advice by the welfare organizations Caritas and Innere Mission based in Friedland. The orientation courses of the first reception facility are an important first step for the reorientation in Germany. Here, the refugees get an introduction into their future life in Germany (organization of the Federal Republic of Germany, education, health care etc.) and receive information about their further accommodation in the different Federal States. Moreover, some first formalities are completed and first applications (for example for passports, unemployment benefits, child benefits etc.) are prepared. The distribution of the asylum seekers among the Federal States is decided according to the “Königstein Key”.
Residence status and rights in Germany
Immediately after their arrival, refugees who are resettled in Germany are granted a limited residence permit for three years according to Section 23 para. 4 of the German Residence Act (AufenthG) (with the prospect of a permanent residence permit) as well as a work permit. Due to their residence status, they have the right to participate in an integration course. Furthermore, they are immediately included in the social insurance system and entitled to health, nursing, and accident insurance as well as social benefits according to part II and XII of the German Code of Social Law (SGB). However, as to their residence status, they are not entitled to obtain the status of refugees in Germany, even if they have been recognized as refugees by UNHCR according to Section 1 of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Special protection and particular rights are granted by the 1951 Refugee Convention to recognized refugees, such as, for example, easier family reunification, free choice of domicile as well as the right to obtain a refugee travel document. In contrast to recognized refugees, resettlement refugees in Germany are obliged to stay in the federal state assigned to them upon arrival insofar as they do not have a job.
Ordinance on admission with respect to the resettlement program of May 13, 2015