German authorities took three fewer months on an average to process asylum requests in the third quarter of 2018 compared with the first quarter. But critics say even that still falls way short of government targets.
German authorities took a little over six months on an average to process asylum requests in the third quarter of 2018, according to an Interior Ministry response to a parliamentary question by the Left party.
The average processing time was 9.2 months in the first quarter and 7.3 months in the second quarter, newspapers of the Funke Mediengruppe quoted. In 2017, the asylum seekers had to wait an average of 10.7 months for a decision.
The time that the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) officials needed to process asylum requests in the third quarter is still way below the target of three months that Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with state premiers in 2015.
Merkel under pressure on asylum
"Instead of the costly and mostly ineffective process of questioning the protection status that has already been granted, as is currently happening hundreds of thousands of times in the context of the revocation investigations, the BAMF staff should be deployed to examine the asylum applications and gain better qualifications," Left Party domestic policy expert Ulla Jelpke told Funke newspapers.
This could effectively shorten the length of procedures "without compromising the quality of the procedures," she said.
Shorter wait for Syrians
Asylum seekers from Pakistan had to wait the longest for a decision on their requests, the report said. The authorities took an average of 9.1 months in the third quarter to process their applications.
Russian, Somalian and Afghan asylum seekers also had to wait for longer periods for the decision.
But asylum seekers from Syria saw their requests processed in just 4.4 months.
The report showed that unaccompanied refugees under the age of 18 had to wait for particularly long periods. The average processing time was 7.7 months in the third quarter of 2018 and 10.2 months in the first nine months of last year.
Young refugees from Afghanistan had to wait for more than a year to know their fate.
While the BAMF had processed a large number of "old cases," thousands still remained to be processed, according to the report. At the end of September 2018, more than 4,000 asylum seekers had been waiting for over 18 months for a decision.
"Overly long asylum procedures cause unreasonable uncertainty for asylum seekers," said Jelpke. She called for "an uncomplicated right of residence for all asylum seekers whose applications with the BAMF have been pending for more than twelve months."