The attack by Putin's army on Ukraine in violation of international law forced and continues to force millions of people to flee. We would like to give those affected, their family members, friends and supporters an orientation on the regulations that now apply to them in Germany and what their prospects are.
This page is updated regularly. State: 10.01.2023
REGULATIONS TO DATE AT EU AND GERMAN FEDERAL LEVEL
In addition to the March 4 EU Council decision on temporary protection, the EU Commission also published operational guidelines for implementing the Council decision in a March 21 communication.
At the federal level, a Ukraine Residence Transitional Regulation (UkraineAufenthÜV, extended on April 5 and July 8) was drafted on March 7 and a circular from the Federal Ministry of the Interior dated March 14 on the implementation of the EU Council Decision and on the distribution of persons in need of protection among the federal states. Another letter from the BMI dated April 14 provides supplementary information on the implementation of the EU regulations in Germany. The BMI circulars are recommendations, some of which have been incorporated into the decrees of the federal states. However, there may be slightly different approaches to implementation in the various federal states. Due to the complexity of the matter, we are unable to provide a comprehensive overview of possible differences and recommend that you contact regional advisory offices if you are in any doubt.
We will update this page regularly and include and explain new rules and regulations. However, many questions are and will remain open, as there are not and will not be regulations for everything. These »general« advisory notes can also only provide an overview and initial advice, but cannot replace individual advice on more complex issues.
On March 3rd the European Union implemented »temporary protection« for refugees from Ukraine. They don’t need to go through asylum process, protection can last up to three years. More info here! (and also in Russian: русский перевод and Ukrainian: український переклад)
We have published information on entering Germany from Ukraine here: Important information on entering and remaining in Germany for Ukrainians.(German)
AS AT PRESENT, NO APPLICATION FOR ASYLUM SHOULD BE SUBMITTED IN MOST CASES
As a rule, neither people with Ukrainian passports nor people without Ukrainian passports who have fled Ukraine are recommended to apply for asylum. Such an application should – if at all – only be made after prior individual counseling. Ukrainians can apply for temporary protection unbureaucratically (see below) and should usually do so.
Even for people without a Ukrainian passport, an asylum application is usually a dead end, since in most cases it is not about threats in the country of origin, but they would like to continue their studies in Germany, for example. An asylum procedure is an extremely unfavorable path for this. An asylum application means accommodation in an asylum shelter as well as assignment to a certain federal state and possibly later to a certain district. A move to another city, for example to continue studies there, is then usually not possible.
In addition, an asylum application leads to a block on the issuance of a residence permit. This means that no residence permit may be issued before the asylum procedure has been completed, unless there is a legal entitlement. Moreover, after an asylum application has been rejected, a residence permit may only be issued for reasons of international law, humanitarian or political reasons before departure, but not, for example, for studying, even if the requirements for this would have been met in the meantime. This is another reason why an asylum application is generally not advisable in the current situation.
Legal entry until November 30 – legal stay up to 90 days after first entry
With the UkraineAufenthÜV of March 7, the entry and residence of all refugees from Ukraine were regulated (extended on April 5 and July 8). Initially, Ukrainians residing in Ukraine can stay in Germany without a residence permit, but also foreigners who were in Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
This regulation applies retroactively from the day the war began and was first extended until August 31 and then until November 30. This means that these people have entered or are entering Germany legally and are staying here legally. The people concerned therefore do not have to fear any punishment, for example because they would actually only have been allowed to enter Germany with a valid visa. They do not have to fear that they may be staying here illegalized.
IMPORTANT! As of September 1, legal residence is only valid for a period of 90 days after first entry into Germany. With this, the Ministry of the Interior wants to ensure that those affected register as soon as possible. In the case of those affected who entered the country immediately after the start of the war, for example, this period will have long since expired on September 1. This group of people is urgently advised – if they have not already done so – to apply for a residence permit before September 1. Only such an application will trigger the so-called fiction effect of Section 81 (3) of the Residence Act. This means that the residence is considered legal even after the expiration of the 90 days until the decision of the foreigners authority on this application (more on the application and the requirements see below).
However, this only regulates the entry and stay of Ukrainians and foreigners from Ukraine, initially until August 31 or a period of 90 days after first entry until November 30 at the latest. This provides a quick remedy, but says nothing about the long-term residence possibilities of those affected (more on this below).
This regulation can be extended again – we will inform about it here if necessary.
re if necessary.
TEMPORARY PROTECTION AS THE MAIN TYPE OF RESIDENCE
Temporary protection is an instrument for granting people protection and guaranteeing certain rights in a comparatively uncomplicated way and without having to go through lengthy and bureaucratic asylum procedures. However, in actual practice, there are unfortunately considerable problems and delays in many places, as well as sometimes chaotic conditions, with regard to the allocation of appointments for registration, distribution, accommodation or the granting of benefits.
In order to simplify the entire process of registration, distribution and application for a residence permit, it has been possible since mid-April to apply for a residence permit electronically via http://www.germany4ukraine.de/www.Germany4Ukraine.de. This service allows refugees to apply for a residence permit electronically. Through this service, refugees can submit their data online for the issuance of a residence permit, which should reduce the duration of on-site contacts. However, this does not replace biometric registration, but is intended to be used to collect basic data on individuals who have not yet been registered in order to trigger distribution. It is to be hoped that this new system can provide for a relief of the authorities and thus of course also for the refugees.
For which groups of people this protection is intended and how they should now behave, you can read here:
Ukrainians* who have been forced to flee to Germany since February 24 can apply for a residence permit according to § 24 AufenthG for temporary protection at the foreigners authority at their place of residence, if one already exists (for example, after being assigned to a certain municipality or city – more on this below). Until the residence permit is issued, people temporarily receive a so-called fictitious certificate. The residence permit itself is to be issued in Germany for two years. By EU Council decision, temporary protection can be extended by another year to a maximum of three years. In this case, the residence permit would then also have to be extended by another year.
The same applies to those who entered the country before February 24, provided they fled Ukraine »not long« before February 24, 2022, or were in the EU »shortly before that date.« The period »not long before February 24, 2022« is to be assumed to be no longer than 90 days. This means, for example, that people who were already visiting Germany or another EU state before the start of the war are also covered by temporary protection.
Ukrainian nationals with a residence title in the federal territory can also apply for a residence permit according to § 24 AufenthG if the extension of the existing residence title is not possible.
In the case of Ukrainian nationals who have applied for asylum (even before February 24) and now apply for temporary protection, the asylum procedures will not be pursued until the residence permit under Section 24 of the Residence Act is issued. Accordingly, those who do not apply for temporary protection will only receive an asylum examination by the BAMF. As a rule, however, it is not advisable to conduct an asylum procedure (see above).
There may also be possibilities for temporary protection for Ukrainian nationals who are only living in Germany with a toleration. If the previous reason for toleration has ceased to apply, an application can be made for a residence permit under Section 24 of the Residence Act. However, people who were previously tolerated because of missing travel documents or unclear identity should be excluded from temporary protection. In case of doubt, the persons concerned are recommended to seek individual advice on site.
If the previous reason for toleration persists, the toleration should be extended and the period of the new toleration should be generous. In addition, it should be provided with a work permit if there are no legal prohibitions on working (e.g. due to lack of cooperation in obtaining a passport).
Non-Ukrainian third-country nationals or stateless persons who had international protection or a comparable national protection status in Ukraine before February 24, 2022, and their family members (see below) can apply to the aliens‘ registration office at their place of residence (for example, after being assigned to a specific municipality or city),) for a residence permit under Section 24 of the Residence Act for temporary protection. Until the residence permit is issued, the people temporarily receive a so-called fictitious certificate. The residence permit itself is to be issued in Germany for two years. By EU Council decision, temporary protection can be extended by another year to a maximum of three years. In this case, the residence permit would then also have to be extended by another year.
Family members of Ukrainians and beneficiaries of international protection in Ukraine also receive a residence permit for temporary protection if the family already existed in Ukraine and regardless of whether the family members could return to their home countries. The nationality of the family members does not matter for temporary protection. They, too, can apply for a residence permit under Section 24 of the Residence Act for temporary protection at the foreigners authority at their place of residence (for example, after being assigned to a specific municipality or city). This also applies if only the family members are in Germany, and the Ukrainians or those entitled to international protection in Ukraine, from whom the temporary protection is derived, are not yet in Germany.
At first, the people usually receive a so-called fictitious certificate until the residence permit is issued. The residence permit itself is to be issued in Germany for two years. By EU Council decision, the temporary protection can be extended by another year to then a maximum of three years in total. In this case, the residence permit would then also have to be extended by another year.
Family members in the sense of this regulation are spouses and underage children. The children must have been minors on the day the war began, i.e. February 24. However, it is not detrimental if they have already reached the age of majority at the time of application for temporary protection. Non-Ukrainian parents of Ukrainian minors who have custody and a permanent Ukrainian residence permit are also granted temporary protection if the other Ukrainian parent cannot leave Ukraine, for example. In their case, it should be assumed that this parent cannot safely and permanently return to the country of origin.
In addition, unmarried couples (including same-sex couples) in long-term relationships, as well as other relatives living in the same household who lived in a family bond with the main person before the outbreak of war and are fully or mostly dependent on the main person, are also considered family members for the purposes of the regulation. Thus, one does not necessarily have to be married to receive temporary protection and a residence permit under Section 24 of the Residence Act.
However, the question of the respective individual proof arises, since a mere household or economic community is not supposed to be sufficient to be considered a family member in the sense of temporary protection. In the case of non-married partners or other relatives living in the household, it should be a long-term community that does not allow for any other cohabitation of the same kind. The relationship must be characterized by inner ties that justify a mutual commitment of the persons in case of need. Thus, if necessary, very close ties to each other must be demonstrated, which go beyond a common residential address. On the other hand, evidence gaps caused by expulsion should be taken into account in a conclusive factual presentation in favor of the persons concerned. Practice will show what this means in each individual case.
Non-Ukrainian family members who do not reside in Ukraine or in Germany or other EU states and who meet the requirements for temporary protection can submit visa applications to the embassies in accordance with Section 24 of the Residence Act, for example if airlines are not allowed to transport them without a visa.
Foreigners and stateless persons who have lived in Ukraine for a limited or unlimited period of time (e.g. students or employed persons) and who are not considered family members of Ukrainians or beneficiaries of international protection can only receive a residence permit according to Section 24 of the Residence Act under certain conditions and thus in the individual case to be reviewed.
According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior, those who cannot return safely and permanently to their home country should receive a residence permit for temporary protection.
Permanent residence in Ukraine
People who have stayed in Ukraine with a valid unlimited residence permit are to be assumed to be unable to return safely and permanently to their country of origin because they have closer ties to Ukraine than to their country of origin. They can apply for a residence permit according to § 24 AufenthG for temporary protection at the foreigners authority at their place of residence, if one already exists (for example if they are accommodated with relatives or friends). Until the residence permit is issued, the people temporarily receive a so-called fictitious certificate. The residence permit itself is to be issued in Germany for two years. By EU Council decision, temporary protection can be extended by another year to a maximum of three years. In this case, the residence permit would then also have to be extended by another year.
Temporary residence in Ukraine
For all other people with a temporary Ukrainian residence title, the important question arises as to how the possibilities of a safe and permanent return to the country of origin are checked by the authorities? The EU Commission’s communication of March 21 and the second circular of the Federal Ministry of the Interior of April 14 provide additional information in this regard:
A safe return to the country of origin would be impossible, for example, if armed conflicts or ongoing violence pose an obvious risk to the safety of the person concerned. Other risks of persecution or inhuman or degrading treatment must also be examined. For the countries of origin Eritrea, Syria and Afghanistan, it is generally assumed that safe return is not possible and the persons concerned should be granted residence permits for temporary protection by the foreigners authorities.
However, people from other countries of origin may also be granted temporary protection under certain circumstances. In assessing whether a ‚safe and durable‘ return is possible, the authorities should consider and examine the individual circumstances of the people concerned, in addition to the general situation in their country of origin. This means that in the procedure, people must have the opportunity to individually justify why they cannot return to their country of origin under safe and durable conditions.
As these issues can be very complex, it is strongly recommended that affected persons seek individual independent advice before applying for temporary protection. Not least because in many places people have been and are being referred to the BAMF and asked to apply for asylum. However, the foreigners authorities are initially responsible for the examination within the framework of the procedure for the examination of a residence permit for temporary protection. Only if it can be inferred from a person’s presentation that he or she is seeking protection from political persecution, i.e. that it is materially an asylum application, should they be referred to the BAMF, with all the associated legal consequences (see above). People must be informed of this by the Aliens‘ Registration Office before submitting their application. If people’s statements about a non-safe and permanent return do not correspond to an asylum request, the application for temporary protection must be examined by the foreigners authority.
Those who were in Ukraine only for a short stay (for example, to visit or for short-term jobs or the like) and then had to flee do not fall under temporary protection. A temporary short stay is any stay in Ukraine for a temporary purpose that does not exceed 90 days from the outset. Thus, for example, a short stay is not to be assumed – even if the actual stay lasted less than 90 days – if a permanent stay was in prospect, but no protection status or permanent residence title could be obtained by February 24, 2022. Stateless persons shall also be excluded from temporary protection if they do not belong to the above-mentioned group of beneficiaries. .
Non-Ukrainians who are not eligible for temporary protection or for whom this is currently unclear should, if necessary, apply for a residence permit in good time before September 1 or within a period of 90 days after first entry. An application submitted in time will result in a so-called fictitious certificate; the residence will then continue to be considered permitted until the foreigners authority has decided on the application. This means that these persons are not obliged to leave the country. At the latest at this point, however, the persons concerned are urgently advised to seek individual and independent advice with regard to their respective options and prospects under the law on residence.
As a matter of principle, it is already recommended that these people »use« their legal residence until August 31 or within a period of 90 days after first entry to create the conditions for a medium- or long-term stay. So, for example, to look for a place to study, who would like to study here further, or for a qualified job, who has a professional qualification or a university degree. If »alternative« possibilities for a residence permit exist and an application can be made for a corresponding residence permit, for example, to study, for training or for a qualified job, the people concerned must not be referred to catching up on the visa procedure (i.e. return and country of origin and re-entry with the corresponding visa). People have entered legally and can obtain the residence permit within the country.
As for health care or receiving social benefits, people without Ukrainian passports who have not yet applied for a residence permit for temporary protection or have not yet received such a residence permit will receive benefits under the AsylbLG if they submit a request for assistance (accommodation, food, medical care) to an authority. This request for assistance should not be considered an application for asylum, and people should not allow themselves to be rushed into an asylum procedure because of possible negative consequences (see above).
DISTRIBUTION WITHIN GERMANY
Refugees from Ukraine who have arrived in Germany and have been accommodated by the state have been distributed among the individual German states since March 16. As is the case with asylum seekers, the distribution is carried out according to the so-called »Königstein Key,« and the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is responsible for carrying out the distribution. As soon as the BAMF has determined a place of residence, this is referred to as allocation to a specific municipality or city.
People who are privately accommodated can be exempt from this. If you have private accommodation in prospect, ask the foreigners authority of the potential place of residence whether they will assume responsibility. If the authority does not exercise discretion to refrain from assigning them, they must register with a state initial reception center if in doubt.
The internal distribution within the respective federal state also essentially follows the same rules as those for asylum seekers*. What is important here is that the household community of family members is to be taken into account in the allocation. This means that the extended circle of family members compared to asylum seekers should not be separated by allocation and distribution. Thus, for example, unmarried couples should be distributed together.
Admitted persons do not have the right to stay in a certain federal state or in a certain place, they have to take their residence and actual stay in the assigned place.
However, the residence requirement is not imposed or it is lifted – among other things – if a family member earns a certain income through employment subject to social security contributions or takes up vocational training or studies. The requirement is also lifted if an integration or vocational language course or a qualification or further training measure is available for a family member »in a timely manner«.
For an intended move, people must apply for the cancellation or change of the residence requirement at the foreigners authority responsible for them at the place of residence, and the foreigners authority at the place of move must agree. If a refusal is made, reasons must be given. If the foreigners authority does not object within four weeks, consent is deemed to have been granted and the foreigners authority at the place of residence must change or delete the residence requirement.
TEMPORARY PROTECTION INCLUDES:
Right to employment: residence permits according to § 24 AufenthG are to be issued with the entry »employment permitted«. Until the residence permit is issued, the fictional certificate should also contain the entry »employment permitted«. The term »employment« covers both dependent employment and any self-employed activity.
Entitlement to social benefits: As of June 1, 2022, people with temporary protection, currently primarily refugees from Ukraine (for entitlement to temporary protection, see above/advice notes), are to receive regular social benefits under the Social Code. Until now, there was only a claim to social benefits and health care under the so-called Asylum Seekers‘ Benefits Act. These normal social benefits are granted according to Social Code (German: Sozialgesetzbuch, SGB) II or XII. They are higher than asylum seeker benefits and include additional needs, e.g. for pregnant women or single parents.
This also means that for most people the responsible authority changes: SGB II benefits are no longer the responsibility of the local social welfare offices, but of the job centers. People who are unable to work or have reached the age limit for working will no longer receive SGB II benefits (commonly called »Hartz IV«), but SGB XII benefits (social assistance, basic security in old age). This means that they will also receive better benefits than those under the Asylum Seekers‘ Benefits Act, but unlike people who are capable of working, they will remain the responsibility of the social welfare office.
For SGB benefits, however, there are various prerequisites and a transitional phase:
The requirement is
- a residence title according to § 24 (1) AufenthG
- the presentation of a formal, official fictional certificate AND registration in the Central Register of Foreigners (German: Ausländerzentralregister)
As long as these requirements have not yet been met, or if there are other problems (for example, an excessively long processing time until payment by the job center), those affected must continue to contact the social welfare office in any case. They will often initially receive benefits under the Asylum Seekers‘ Benefits Act and later switch to SGB benefits.
There are further social benefits according to the Social Code: People with disabilities are entitled to social assistance and help with work and education (so-called integration assistance according to SGB IX). The same requirements apply as for other benefits under the Social Code: a residence title under § 24 (1) AufenthG or an official fictional certificate and registration in the Central Register of Foreigners (German: Ausländerzentralregister). In other cases, disabled persons are also entitled to integration assistance in principle, but it could be difficult to enforce in practice. Those affected should contact a counseling center if they have any problems.
The situation is similar with care benefits: This entitlement is also anchored in the Social Code and is provided either by the social welfare offices or by the health insurance fund (after two years of membership).
In addition, from June 2022 there will also be an entitlement to child benefit and other family benefits (parental allowance, advance maintenance payments) – the prerequisite for this is that a residence permit has already been issued in accordance with §24 (1) AufenthG – fictional certificate is not sufficient here.
It should be noted that the child benefit is taken into account as money that is deducted from social benefits, so these claims only effectively play a role in the case of employees. An application should nevertheless be made at an early stage. People who have a low income of employment and receive child benefits can also receive a child allowance- on application to the family benefits office.
An overview of the complicated social entitlements and transitional arrangements for people with temporary protection has been prepared by the GGUA.
Entitlement to health care: Social benefits under SGB II are linked to enrolment in a normal health insurance plan. People are free to choose the health insurance fund. They should take care of this themselves at an early stage and clarify the conditions for the earliest possible insurance coverage and receipt of the health insurance card.
If the conditions for SGB II benefits are not (yet) met – or if the processing of the application takes too long – the local social welfare office can help: Here, the refugees – at least according to the Asylum Seekers‘ Benefits Act – can immediately receive a certificate for medical treatment (German: Krankenschein) or a certificate to be refunded medical costs (German: Kostenübernahmeschein) , with which they can go to a doctor, in some cases they receive a »health card« for this. However, bills already paid privately to doctors are not reimbursed retroactively!
People who do not receive SGB II but SGB XII benefits receive an electronic health card with which they receive the same benefits as people with statutory health insurance.
There is always a right to medical assistance in an emergency – even for people without registration or a residence permit. However, the emergency services in hospitals cannot provide ongoing treatment and cannot issue prescriptions for medication that can be redeemed free of charge.
In some organizations, doctors treat people without papers anonymously and free of charge. The website gesundheit-ein-menschenrecht.de lists such organizations, as do the websites of Malteser and Medibüros. In some places, established doctors and hospitals offer free treatment for Ukrainian refugees. Inquire locally if necessary.
Access to German courses: Access to integration courses is possible upon application. The application can be submitted to the responsible regional offices of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. In order to enable participation in the integration course as early as possible, the fictitional certificate should contain a reference to the issuance of a residence permit according to § 24 AufenthG.
Access to the school system: All children in Germany are subject to compulsory education up to a certain age. Since the education system in Germany is a matter for the individual federal states, there are different procedures for this. More information can be found on Handbook Germany.
Right to family reunification: For the reunification of spouses and underage children, the requirements for family reunification with a person with a residence permit according to § 24 AufenthG are lowered if the family unity in the country of origin was disrupted due to the flight situation and the family members are in another EU member state or are outside of the EU and are in need of protection. If these conditions are fulfilled, there is no need to secure a livelihood or to have a »clarified identity« or a passport (usally this would need to be fulfilled for family reunification). This means that the closest relatives can join the family, even if the person receives social benefits in Germany. Family members joining the family do not receive a residence permit for family reunification, as is usually the case, but also a residence permit for temporary protection. Therefore, the described time restrictions, access requirements for employment and social benefits or health insurance also apply to them. In addition, family members joining the family do not have to have entered the country with the required visa, as is usually the case. After entering Germany without a visa, they can therefore apply for a residence permit directly at the relevant foreigners authority without having to go through a visa procedure from abroad beforehand. Other family members – such as the parents of adults who have found temporary protection in Germany – can join them under the very narrow conditions of family reunification according to § 36 (2) AufenthG. According to this rule, the subsequent immigration must be necessary to avoid exceptional hardship. This may be the case, for example, if the person wishing to join the family is in need of care and no care is available in the country of origin. However, the situation in Ukraine alone is unlikely to constitute exceptional hardship under the current rules. Accordingly, the same regulations regarding access to work, social benefits or health insurance apply to family members that came to Germany as to all people with a residence permit under § 24 AufenthG.
REASONS FOR DISQUALIFICATION FOR TEMPORARY PROTECTION
The granting of temporary protection is excluded in the case of persons suspected of serious criminal offences, for example, if there are serious reasons for assuming that they have committed a war crime, a crime against humanity or a serious non-political criminal offence (Article 28 of the Directive or Section 24 (2) of the Residence Act in conjunction with Section 3 (2) of the Asylum Act).
The same shall apply if the person concerned is to be regarded as a danger to the security of the Federal Republic of Germany for serious reasons or poses a danger to the general public because he or she has been convicted of a felony or particularly serious misdemeanor and sentenced by a final court decision to a term of imprisonment of at least three years (Section 24 (2) Residence Act in conjunction with Section 60 (8) Residence Act). However, this broad exclusion is not covered by Article 28 of the directive.
Even if, as a result of a ground for exclusion, the issuance of a residence permit pursuant to Section 24 (1) of the Residence Act is out of the question, this does not mean that residence-terminating measures may be taken, since the persons concerned have at least been determined to be »displaced persons« prior to an armed conflict (see above). Therefore, if there is a reason for exclusion for the duration of the armed conflict, those affected must at least be issued a toleration certificate in accordance with § 60 a) AufenthG.
IMPORTANT! In the case of an existing entry and residence ban, e.g. due to a previous deportation from Germany, or also in the case of a deportation (at least insofar as such a deportation is not based on serious criminal offenses), it applies according to § 11 para. 4 sentence 2 AufenthG that this should be lifted if the granting of a residence permit for temporary protection according to § 24 AufenthG is to be expected.
We also recommend to read following information:
- Information on exit/entry, residence and housing (also in Ukrainian and Russian) is kept up to date by Handbook Germany.
- A compilation of actors and information is available under Informationsverbund Asyl & Migration.
- In addition, the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of the Interior provide information.
- Information on the regulations in the respective EU countries by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ecre)
- FAQ on residence law issues for people from Ukraine in Germany answered by Minor Kontor