What is relocation?

This tool involves relocating individuals in need of protection from one member state of the European Union to another EU member state. The bases for relocation programmes are joint decisions of European Union member states. Relocation is a solidarity programme, as it aims to relieve pressure on individual member states, particularly those located on the external borders of the EU.

Foto: UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

What current relocation programmes exist in the EU?

Due to the sharp increase in the immigration of people seeking protection within the European Union, several relocation programmes have been adopted in the past. Between 2010 and 2011, for example, around 102 African refugees from Malta were received in Germany as part of the “Intra-EU Relocation from Malta Project”.

In 2015, two new relocation programmes were adopted by the EU member states (2015/1523, 2015/1601). In May 2015, the European Union initially adopted a relocation programme for 40,000 persons from Italy and Greece. This was followed by a further relocation programme for 120,000 persons seeking protection in September 2015. According to these decisions, a total of 160,000 persons from Greece, Italy and Hungary are to be received by various EU countries within 2 years. Following the decisions, Hungary has renounced its participation in the relocation programme, so that resettlement will only take place from Italy and Greece. So far, a total of around 34,705 persons have been resettled in the European Union (as of 30.10.2018). Germany should take in more than 27,400 persons by September 2017 within the framework of the relocation programmes. According to the European Commission, Germany has taken in 5,391 persons from Greece and 5,446 persons from Italy (as of 30.10.2018).

Since the beginning of March there have been commitments from various European countries to take in unaccompanied children and young people who have fled Greek refugee camps. Some German cities supported this project in an open letter. The German Federal Government declared its willingness to provide 1,621 reception places for unaccompanied minors together with France, Luxembourg, Portugal, Ireland, Finland, Croatia, Lithuania, Belgium, Switzerland and Bulgaria. A total of around 5,200 unaccompanied minors live in Greece. In a first step, Luxembourg took in 12 and Germany 47 children and young people. At the end of August, the Federal Ministry of the Interior confirmed the admission of 347 persons, including 53 unaccompanied minors and 68 sick children, brought by air from Greece to Germany (as of 26 August 2020). At the beginning of September, the number of persons admitted was 465 (as of 3 September 2020). A further 1.553 people are to be admitted in Germany (as of 16 September 2020). The first 101 persons of this contingent arrived on 16 October 2020 and were initially accommodated in the border transit camp Friedland. After two Covid-19 tests, the persons will be distributed among several Länder.

More detailed information on the first recordings can be found in the Federal Government’s answer to the parliamentary question by the parliamentary group of the AfD (- printed matter 19/19706 -).

How did the completed relocation programme from Greece and Italy go?

The selection of protection-seeking individuals in the relocation programme is based on proposals by national offices in Italy and Greece, with the support of staff of the EASO. BAMF [Federal Office for Migration and Refugees] grants approval for admission in a later stage. This involves individuals who have already applied for asylum in these countries and among whom a high protection rate of at least 75% is expected. People seeking protection who have already applied for asylum in another European country are not considered for the relocation programme by the national offices.

The individuals admitted to Germany via relocation must complete the full asylum procedure after arrival in Germany. They are first of all registered in a national reception centre at Erding near Munich and then distributed among the federal states by applying a special distribution formula (Königssteiner Schlüssel). In general, the people are then admitted to another federal reception centre where they officially launch their asylum application in Germany. After registration, the process is the same as for all asylum seekers including an application for asylum and later an interview at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

“sea rescue admission” – the special redistribution procedures of people rescued from distress at sea

Sea rescue relocation operations, also known as “boat admission“, involve the allocation to one or more EU Member States of migrants rescued at sea who were allowed to land in another EU Member State (currently Malta and Italy). This group of persons is thus also asylum seekers. Germany assumes responsibility for conducting the national asylum procedure.

What are the legal bases for the current relocation Programme?

Individuals who enter via relocation have the same legal status as asylum seekers or asylum applicants. An exception is made for persons entering with the 1,553 quota (see above). They are currently entitled to the following benefits:

Residence: Individuals entering are first of all given a certificate of arrival at the registration at the initial reception centre. After submitting the application for asylum at a branch office of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, they are given a temporary residence permit under Section 55 AsylG (Asylum Act) for the duration of the asylum process.

Social security benefits: The individuals receive benefits under the Benefits for Asylum Seekers’ Act (Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz).

Work: Three months after receiving the temporary residence permit, these individuals may work if they obtain a work permit from the employment agency (Jobcenter) and the consent of the Immigration Office.

Place of residence: Individuals are required to take up residence in the place determined by the authorities.

Family reunification: They are not eligible for family reunification during the asylum process. Individuals who are then recognised as refugees under the Geneva Convention (Section 25 (II) AufenthG) need to apply within three months after the successful asylum procedure to be eligible for family reunification without further pre-conditions.

Integration: During the ongoing asylum procedure, individuals from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, and Eritrea may attend an integration course by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. The integration course covers 600 to 900 hours and in the best case scenario concludes with a B1 certificate.