Continuation of the humanitarian admission for Syrian refugees from Turkey

Monthly admissions of up to 500 persons as part of the EU-Turkey declaration


The humanitarian admission program for Syrian refugees from Turkey which started with the admission directive published by the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) on January 11th 2017 will be continued as mandated by the admission directive dated January 13th 2020. The ministry decided to continue the German commitment and to accommodate up to 500 people per month until December 31st 2020. The directive was coordinated with the highest state authorities. Detailed information about the program can be found in the accompanying regulations. According to the directive and the accompanying regulations unaccompanied minors can also find protection within the framework of this humanitarian program.

Extension within the framework of the EU-Turkey declaration

Foto: Ivor Prickett/ UNHCR

The background of the humanitarian admission program for Syrians in Turkey is the EU-Turkey declaration of March 18th 2016. One major goal as defined in the declaration is “to break the business model of the smugglers and to offer migrants an alternative to putting their lives at risk”.

Since the EU-Turkey declaration came into force, several thousand Syrians have been admitted to the EU. Furthermore, an EU resettlement program for 30.000 persons is planned for 2020 and is expected to allow admissions for many people from Turkey. However, the EU-Turkey declaration has also been criticized since the start of its implementation.

Procedure of the current humanitarian admission

As with previous entries via the resettlement program from Turkey, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) selects the persons who are admitted within the program. In addition to Syrians, in justified individual cases stateless persons who can proof that they lived in Syria prior to their stay in Turkey and whose identity has been clarified can also be selected for the humanitarian admission program.

Syrians in Turkey cannot apply to the BAMF or UNHCR to get selected for the admission program. The Turkish migration authority DGMM compiles lists with suggested persons from which the BAMF selects the refugees for the program. Different from previous Humanitarian Admission Programs (HAP) for Syrian citizens (2013-2015), it is not possible for relatives in Germany to propose people for the admission.

Various criteria are taken into account in the selection process. They include: the preservation of family unity, family ties or ties to Germany that might promote integration, the ability to integrate based on formal educational qualifications, language skills, religious affiliation and age, the degree of vulnerability and, where applicable, other criteria that are part of the common procedural guidelines according to the EU-Turkey declaration.

The selected people arrive to Germany in groups and are accommodated at the Friedland Arrival Camp for two weeks after their arrival. After the distribution across the federal territory according to the Königsteiner Schlüssel, the refugees apply for a residence permit in accordance with § 23 Abs. 2 AufenthG. According to the BMI’s admission directive, the immigration authorities should limit this permit to three years. The refugees receive an immediate work permit, SGB II or SGB XII benefits and have the right to attend an integration course. However, they are subject to a residence regulation and have no right to facilitate the family reunification process like refugees who were admitted through the resettlement program (§ 23 Abs. 4 AufenthG). Further information can be found in the admission directive dated February 13th 2020 and in the accompanying regulations for the federal states.

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Information for counselors and relatives 

As a counselor or relative you can merely try to get information from the protection seekers living in Turkey about their registration status with the Turkish authorities (PDMM, DGMM, district police, etc.). If the persons living in Turkey have a temporary protection status, they are automatically registered with DGMM and could theoretically be proposed for the German program by DGMM. Unfortunately, after their registration Syrians in Turkey can only wait to receive information on whether they were selected or not. Relatives or organizations in Germany cannot propose them to the German authorities. Based on our experience, we do not advise you to personally visit and ask DGMM or one of the branch offices (PDMM) as this does not lead to an admission into the program. DGMM, UNHCR, IOM or the BAMF will contact the protection seekers if they are eligible for the selection process. Various non-governmental organizations (e.g. Mülteci-DER and Mülteci Haklari Merkezi) in Turkey are advocating for and supporting refugees. Contact details of these NGOs and other supporters can be found in the Elena Index of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE). If you are in contact with a family who is invited to a selection interview at the German embassy, we recommend taking the contact details of the relatives living in Germany to the appointment. We recommend having all names, dates of birth, addresses, telephone numbers and possibly photos of the relatives’ residence permit on a piece of paper or printed since mobile phones are generally not allowed on the premises.