What happens to rejected asylum applicants? | From the Balkans to Germany: Facts, not myths | DW | 20.09.2015
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From the Balkans to Germany

What happens to rejected asylum applicants?

The right to asylum in Germany is set down by the county's constitution, in Article 16a. However, for people from so-called "safe countries of origin," special rules apply.

In Germany, people are granted asylum if they can prove that they are the victims of political persecution. For citizens from so-called "safe countries of origin," the German Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) assumes that no persecution is taking place. The asylum application is deemed to be unfounded from the start, in accordance with paragraph 29a of the German asylum application law.

Last year Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia were all given safe country status. At the moment, this status is also being looked at for Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro.

Even with the presumption that the application is unfounded, a Balkan migrant still has the right to a proper asylum application process, and the authorities are still required to test each and every case. The person seeking asylum has to be heard and can still appeal any rejection of his or her asylum application.

Lawyer Maximilan Pichl from the German human rights organization "Pro Asyl" says that for people from these countries apply other deadlines. They are required to get their paperwork done much faster. And, the chances of a successful appeal are very low. The asylum application statistics in August show this clearly. Just 0.4 percent of migrants from Macedonia were recognized as deserving of asylum. The approval rates for Serbia, Albania and Kosovo were 0.1 percent, 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent respectively.

Asylum, tolerated right to stay and deportation

Should a person's right for asylum be refused, he or she will receive a "Duldung," meaning that they are officially tolerated to stay temporarily in Germany. In German law this means that the deportation has merely been delayed. This status is normally granted for a maximum period of six months and needs to be extended again after that period expires. People who have this status only have restricted opportunities to work.

Maximilian Pichl from Pro Asyl says that people from the Western Balkans are often refused any work during this phase. Authorities justify this by referencing back to migration policy. Economic refugees shouldn't be given any encouragement to come to Germany, even to earn money for a short period of time, they say. It's a calculated step which shows that the authorities want these people to have a tough time of things.

The final step

If the migrant receives a final asylum rejection from the authorities, then he or she is given a period in which they have to leave Germany. This is normally a period of one month. In this period of time, it should be possible for the person affected to bid their farewells, deal with various official matters and de-register their children from school. Nevertheless, during this time, the person receives social security payments and is covered by insurance.

After this deadline has passed deportation can occur at any time. The speed of the deportation varies depending on the state. No concrete dates are named, and it is possible that police will start a person's deportation in the middle of the night. In those instances, not much time is available to pack, or to say goodbye. The 2012 UNICEF study "Silent Harm" showed that this experience can be particularly traumatic for children that have gone to school and who also have to leave friends behind.

Incentive to leave voluntarily

German authorities try to encourage rejected asylum applicants to leave the country voluntarily. In each state, this is done in a different manner. In Hamburg, the city's authorities have put up a list of typical costs for a voluntary departure.

In this instance, the travel costs for a voluntary departure are carried by the authorities, as are food costs. There are also funds set aside for re-establishing the person in their home country. Exact amounts are not stipulated on the Hamburg website. After being asked by DW, the authorities said that the amounts vary in each case.

For those that are not willing to leave Germany voluntarily, the costs of deportation are often sent to you as a bill. This includes the flight costs and the person may also have to pay for their deportation holding cell before departure, at a cost of around 111 euros ($125) a day.

Those that leave Germany voluntarily are also able to return to the EU or Germany in the future. Migrants that are forcibly deported lose that right.