While the processing of family reunification applications for those with subsidiary protection in Germany seems to finally be on track to meet the government's goal, the allocation of 1,000 slots per month is more or less exhausted for the first half of this year. Last year, the German government missed its target of processed applications, but left-over slots apparently won’t roll over into this year.
For the first six months of 2019, the allocation for family reunifications for those eligible for subsidiary protection has already almost been used up. That’s according to Germany’s Foreign Ministry, which said the German Federal Administration Office (BVA) made 5,860 decisions during the six months from January to June.
This means that the BVA made an average of 976 approvals per month. According to the quota system valid since August 2018, up to 1,000 approvals per month are possible.
In August 2018, a two-year suspension on family reunification for persons entitled to subsidiary protection to bring their family members to Germany was lifted. Subsidiary status mainly applies to Syrian refugees, many of whom were only granted lower-level protection because they were fleeing a civil war; they couldn't prove, however, that they had been personally persecuted under the UN's Geneva Convention.
But implementing the complicated arrangement for family reunification after the suspension didn’t start as planned: From August to December of 2018, the BVA only managed to process 65 percent (3,260) of all applications, missing its target of 5,000 applications.
In late February of this year, though, the number of people entering Germany to join family members who have received subsidiary protection status finally reached its planned target of 1,000 per month.
According to a report by a German economic research institute from last November, separation from family weighs hard on refugees: When they have children or partners abroad, refugees in Germany are more dissatisfied with their lives overall.
Leftover allocation won’t roll over
Based on the current numbers, it appears as though the responsible authorities are not rolling over the leftover allocation of 1,740 cases from last year.
While Germany’s diplomatic representations sent 13,000 applications from abroad in the 11 months since the arrangement has been in force, Germany’s Foreigners' Registration Office (“Ausländerbehörde”) only examined some 9,000 applications and forwarded them to the BVA.
Based on these examinations, the BVA then makes selection decisions. Next, the office sends positive decisions back to the German diplomatic representations abroad, where the visas are issued.
According to Germany's Foreign Ministry, 6,149 visas were issued during the first six months of this year, or slightly more than 1,000 per month. In contrast, only 522 visas were issued on average from August to December of 2018, the first five months since the arrangement came into force.
There are no official statistics regarding the number of people who file requests for reunification with their relatives. At the end of January, the German government had said it had received 36,000 such requests, the majority of those in its diplomatic representations in Syria’s neighboring states: Lebanon, Autonomous Kurdish-controlled Iraq, Turkey and Jordan.
With material from the German news agency EPD.