© Staatskanzlei RLP / Von Erichsen

© Staatskanzlei RLP / Von Erichsen

© Staatskanzlei RLP / Von Erichsen

First steps

Here you can find the answers to questions such as: What is a reception centre? Where can I get food and clothes? How and where can I learn German? The information on the following page will answer these questions as well as others.

What is a reception centre?

If you have arrived in Germany without a visa, you must go to a reception centre immediately upon your arrival in Germany. There are reception centres for asylum seekers in every federal state. The border police or the immigration authorities can also send you there. You can also register at a police station or a town hall. You will be given assistance there. It is essential that you register. It is the only way for us to help you and avoid unnecessary problems.

You will be cared for at the registration centres (AfA). They provide food and housing for you, which you will share with other asylum seekers. Upon your arrival, you have to undergo a medical check-up. The staff will answer all your most pressing questions in order to facilitate your new start in our country.

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has a representation in every reception centre, where you can apply for asylum.

 

 

How long will I be staying at the reception centre?

Your stay at the reception centre will be no longer than 3 months. We wish for migrants to quickly participate in life here in Germany, which is why you will be relocated to a town and district in Rhineland-Palatinate within 3 months. A district or town will be chosen for you, and you will be sent there. The local authorities will determine your place of residence. Since there are currently many migrants arriving in Germany, the authorities decide the place where you are sent. It is imperative that you comply with their decision. We need to be able to contact you quickly, which is important for your asylum procedures.

How do the asylum procedures work?
Abbildung 1: Ablauf eines Asylverfahrens

© BAMF

You can find information on asyulum procedures in Germany in this information brochure by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, as well as in figure 1.

1) The asylum seeker is registered upon arrival.
2) The asylum seeker is taken to the nearest reception centre.
3) If necessary, relocation to a different federal state (according to quota system “Königsteiner Schlüssel”)
4) The asylum seeker applies personally for asylum at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).
5) The BAMF creates a file of the applicant (including photo, fingerprint, etc.)
6) The applicant receives an identification document for temporary residence.
7) It is verified which EU country is responsible for the applicant. This depends on the state of entry to the EU.
8) If Germany is responsible*, the applicant is given a personal interview as to the reasons for the escape and his/her life situation.
9) Decision of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
10) 
a) Permit of residence
b) Mandatory return/deportation
c) Rejection with tolerated stay**
11) 
a) Court allows decision
b) The asylum seeker can file action
c) Court rejects decision

* if not: transfer to the state of entry to the EU
** e.g. in case applicant is unfit for travel

Source: BAMF

 

 

What are my chances of permanent residence in Germany?

The Federal Republic of Germany grants the right of asylum according to article 16a of the Basic Law, if the criteria are fulfilled. This includes the right to assess the request for asylum. Unlike many other countries, where the right of asylum is based on the Geneva Convention on Refugees from 1951, in Germany, the right of asylum is one of the fundamental rights laid down in the Basic Law.

It is clear that not every request for asylum is decided in favour of the applicant. In cases of individual reasons for the escape, such as poverty or natural disasters, the decision is generally unfavourable for the applicant.

Besides the diligent and individual assessment of every request for asylum, there is an acceptance quota for the various countries of origin. For example, the quota for applicants from the West Balkan countries is below one per cent. This point needs to be taken into consideration before applying for asylum, as well as during the procedures.

In the legislative package on asylum adopted on 16th October of this year, the State Government advocated for citizens of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia to be given the opportunity to come to Germany for work or education purposes. Prerequisite is an existing job or training offer, including the agreement of the job agency, and for the applicant to have applied for a visa in the country of origin. This regulation offers the possibility of permanent residence in Germany, independently of an asylum request. If a prior request for asylum has been made, this path is barred.

In the area of people who have to leave the country, the State Government aims to achieve a “voluntary” return, which is pursued by the state initiative Rückkehr (return). It is financed through optionally provided state funds and gives communities the opportunity to
• plan and carry out their own projects for return,
• contract out return projects and measures,
• find concrete individual solutions for the return in cooperation with the person concerned.

The State Government supports and aims at a return in dignity, which provides the opportunity of an independent, and should the need arise, assisted return to the country of origin in order to avoid coercive measures.

What happens at the AfA?

The reception centre will register you with the immigration authorities. This step ensures that your stay in Germany is permitted until further notice, and you have legal status in Germany. To do so you need to provide your personal information.

A decision is then made whether you will be relocated to a different reception centre, for example if there is no vacant bed for you at your current location.  It is imperative that you comply with this decision. We need to be able to contact you, which is important for your asylum procedures. The same rules for asylum procedures apply in all of Germany.

At the BAMF representation office, you can apply for asylum.  Since there are currently many migrants arriving in Germany, please be aware that it will take some time until you can apply for asylum.

 

 

Where do I get food, clothes, and the basic necessities?

At the reception centre, you will be given a place to sleep as well as food and drink. The staff can also provide you with used clothes and the basic necessities.

This flyer provides information about the quality of drinking water in Germany.

Where do I get help and counselling?

At the reception centre, you will find a person of contact for many questions. If you are having problems with your experiences during the flight or after your arrival in Germany, you can talk to social services. The staff there will also try to assist you with questions concerning everyday life in Germany, or if are worried about your family. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can advise you on topics such as social issues and questions on your asylum request. Translators will help you in case of language barriers.

How and where can I learn German?

At many reception centres, volunteers offer language courses. You can ask for them at social services or find information on the time and place of the courses on the information boards. After you have been placed in a community, the nurseries, schools, and integration courses there will offer German language courses, which are the key to successful integration. Additionally, the Goethe Institute offers a large number of language courses. To find out more, click here.

On the website „ich-will-deutsch-lernen“  („I want to learn German“) by the Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband (DVV, German Association of Adult Education), anyone can learn German free of charge, from absolute beginners to advanced learners (levels A1 to B2 of the European Framework of Reference for Languages). You only need an email address to register.

The website of the Deutsche Welle offers German language classes for immigrants, which are available in 30 languages for e-learning at a PC, and use a wide range if videos, audio files, and podcasts – or as traditional courses with printable download work sheets.

You can find mock exams for the different European language competence levels from A1 to C2 and other language acquisition materials on the website of the non-profit organisation telc GmbH, which is 100 % affiliated with the adult education centres.

Do children go to a nursery or to school?

At the learning and playing house of the reception centre, your children can play, sing, do crafts, and learn a little German under the supervision of specially trained carers. Many reception centres offer German language courses for children from the age of 6, taught by qualified teachers. After you have been placed in a community, schooling is compulsory for children from the age of six. Younger children should attend a day care centre.

Which medical examinations do I have to undergo, what do I do when I am/fall ill?

Upon your arrival, we need to know whether you suffer from any illnesses. Therefore, you need to be seen by a medical doctor. You will give a blood sample and a stool sample, and we will x-ray your lungs. (To eliminate the possibility of tuberculosis in pregnant women and children below the age of 15, other examination methods will be used.)

In the following weeks, you will live in close proximity to many people, and can easily catch an infection. Only through thorough medical examinations can we prevent a possible infection for you, and for infections to become a risk for elderly people and children.

We also offer vaccinations against severe and infectious illnesses, of which you should make use.
If you are pregnant, you can also see a doctor. You will be given a maternity log. The maternity log contains essential information required for the medical care of mother and child. To find an overview of vaccinations for children by the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA), click here.



Basic rules of living together

Learn German as quickly as possible! Use every opportunity offered to you to do so!

In Rhineland-Palatinate, you can find German language courses for every age group. Children learn German at the day care centre, students at school, and adults at the adult education centres and in the integration courses offered by the Federal Government; unfortunately, they are not open to everyone. The State Government of Rhineland-Palatinate is campaigning for more places in these courses for people who need them. It is essential that you register your children with these institutions and make use of this opportunity for education yourself!

Respect the rules and laws in Germany!

You are now in a free and democratic state governed by the rule of law. This means, in our country, the Basic Law grants the fundamental rights.  You do not have to fear arbitrariness. The free and democratic system of government is not up for discussion for anyone. "Human dignity shall be inviolable" is the first and most important sentence of the German Basic Law. It means that every person, no matter their sex, origin, religious or political opinion, or sexual preference, has the same value, is to be treated with the same respect, and is equal before the law. Men and women are equal. No one must be disadvantaged or advantaged because of their gender, descent, race, language, origin, religion, and religious or political views. No one must be disadvantaged because of a disability.

The rules and laws in Germany are all based on these basic principles. The government, judiciary, and administration are bound to them.

Be tolerant of different opinions, worldviews, and religious beliefs!

In Rhineland-Palatinate, we respect the freedom of religion, i.e. the freedom to practice or not practice religion, and to live according to one’s religious belief, as long as this does not violate the rights of any other person. Freedom of speech means that any opinion may be expressed, in particular if it goes against my own opinion, as long as it is not discriminating, threatening, or offensive. Should you feel discriminated, threatened, or offended, turn to the police and judiciary for help. Make use of the opportunity the peaceful coexistence of religions offers and make an effort so no one is discriminated. The State Government of Rhineland-Palatinate leads an interreligious dialogue with the different denominations, thus contributing to a better understanding of each other.

Take it seriously: Men and women are equal!

In Germany, men and women are equal; both sexes have the same rights and duties. This means, women are treated as equals in all areas of society, and must not be discriminated. Gender equality also means, women must not be discriminated when it comes to education. They have the same democratic rights as men and must be treated with as much respect as any man.

A person violates this respect when touching a woman without her express consent, or when talking to her in an unseemly and degrading manner. This applies without limitation, even if women or men are dressed in a more revealing way than what you are used to in your country of origin. The freedom of choosing what we want to wear is also an expression of our personal freedom.

Respect the German right of choosing whom we love!

Accept that everyone can live their life however they want, as long as they do not violate the rights of others!
In all of Germany, men may love men and women may love women.

Living together also means celebrating together

In many communities in Rhineland-Palatinate, we celebrate Fastnacht or Karneval (carnival) before Lent. People have fun wearing costumes, dancing, and celebrating. Even if some women and men are dressed in a revealing way, there are some rules with which you need to comply. The police have created a flyer explaining those rules to you.

Basic Law

The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany defines the fundamental federal decisions on the system and its values. The articles of the Basic Law are above all other German legal norms. To find the Basic Law in your language, click here

What personal liberties do I have and what rules do I have to respect to live in a peaceful society?

At the reception centre, you can make use of a large number of counselling services. This includes information on where you must go to register and where you are permitted to stay.  Since there are currently many migrants arriving in Germany applying for asylum, the procedures need to be well organised; expect some waiting time until it is your turn. At the reception centre, you will meet many people who, like you, have had a difficult time. They are from different countries and have differing cultural and religious backgrounds. Show them tolerance and respect!

Freedom is very important in Germany, and we have been fighting for it for many years. This means, that everyone in Germany can practice their own religion the way they want, as long as they respect other people’s rights. Freedom of speech means that any opinion may be expressed, in particular if it goes against one’s own opinion. Should you feel discriminated, threatened, or offended, turn to the police and judiciary for help.

If you behave according to the rule, “Treat others like you want to be treated yourself“, or in other words, “Wish for others the same things you wish for yourself“, you greatly contribute to a peaceful society. If you are having problems, ask social services for help. In public, you can trustingly turn to the police.  Violence is not a means to settle a conflict.

The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany defines the fundamental federal decisions on the system and its values. The articles of the Basic Law are above all other German legal norms. To find the Basic Law in your language, click here.

You can find explanations for many of the rules in the app „Ankommen“ (arriving), developed by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in cooperation with others. You can also find valuable tips in the brochure „Willkommen in Deutschland“ (Welcome to Germany). The app and the brochure have been translated into several languages for you.

What does gender equality mean?

In Germany, men and women are equal; both sexes have the same rights and duties. This means, women are treated as equals in all areas of society, and must not be discriminated. Gender equality also means, women must not be discriminated when it comes to education. They have the same democratic rights as men and must be treated with as much respect as any man.

In Germany, men and women practice the same professions, e.g. medical doctors, judges, public servants. If a woman is your person of contact, treat her with the due respect.

 

 

What are my personal duties?

In order for the BAMF to decide on your asylum request, various data needs to be checked. The ministry employees need to know who you are, where you come from, why you had to leave your country, and how you came to Germany on your flight. Documents from your home country, as well as those you were given during the flight, will help us to do so. For the processing of your asylum request, we require your cooperation.

You will also be asked to provide details on your financial situation in order for us to decide what kind of help you need. Only those who cannot fend for themselves are supported by the German state.
It is possible that the police or other authorities will want to inspect you. Those inspections are legal. You do not need to be afraid of them. Always carry your permit of residence with you. This proves to the authorities e.g. the police that you are legally staying in Germany.

Stay at the residence assigned to you so we can safely and quickly contact you. Otherwise, you run the risk of an important deadline passing, which can result in a disadvantage to you. If you are having problems or questions at the residence, talk to social services. They will assist you.

There are rules and interdictions for life in Germany, which apply to everyone. Many of you will know them already from your home countries. Others might not know them yet.

Am I allowed to work?

It is our aim that approved asylum seekers and war refugees be given the opportunity to build a life in safety and fend for themselves. Therefore, you can participate in a voluntary survey on your academic and professional qualifications at the reception centre. This information will help us support you in your job search once you are assigned to a community. Laws regulate what kind of job you can work in and when you are allowed to start working. There are numerous offers preparing you for the requirements of the German job market. It is of particular importance that you have at least a basic knowledge of German. If you want to participate in the offered preparation courses, you need to pay attention to the deadlines and fulfil all the requirements, which the relevant employment agency and the Foreigners' Authority will verify beforehand.

There is a lot of work to do at a reception centre. Maybe you can give us a hand. Please let social services know you are interested in helping!

Can my family join me in Germany?

Many migrants are very concerned about their families whom they left behind in their home country in imminent danger, and therefore, they hope their relatives will be able to join them in Germany. 

According to Residence Law, within the framework of family reunions, foreigners have the opportunity to reunite their family in Germany. In order to do so, it is required that they hold a residence permit, i.e. their request for asylum has been approved, have sufficient living space, and can secure the livelihood of their family. Usually, family reunions only include married partners and their underage, single children. 

In exceptional cases, and in order to avoid unusual hardship cases, other family members may be given permission to join the family. However, the family member in residence here is responsible for the accommodation, livelihood, and health insurance. The authority in charge of those cases is the local branch of the Foreigners’ Authority.

Migrants from Syria can find information on the website of the Foreign Office, and file a charge within the deadline (§ 29 para. 2 no. 1 AufenthG) as well as a visa application. The website is available in German, English, and Arabic.

ANKOMMEN A guide for your first weeks in Germany
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Seelefon

© Bundesverband der Angehörigen psychisch erkrankter Menschen

How are you?
You are living in a totally new situation after having fled from home.  Many impressions in your new environment are unsettling you.  Now, you have the impression that your family feels not fine.  Your child sits sadly on the side and ponders all the time. Your wife or husband talks about nightmares in the morning. You live in steady fear which compromise even your daily routine.  You feel that you need support.

How we can help you
With our “SeeleFon”, the nationwide telephone and electronic self-help service, we support refugees and migrants in mental distress and their families.

Your number for mental support
0228 / 71002425
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 
10 to 12 am and 2 to 3 pm