New rules to speed up repatriations

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Limiting irregular migration New rules to speed up repatriations

The German Bundestag has passed the repatriation package introduced by the Federal Government. Federal Minister of the Interior Faeser described the Federal Government’s goal as follows: “I want for us to be able to say that we are doing all we can to ensure the safety and security of people in Germany at all times. I want us to protect our communities against becoming overwhelmed. And I want for us to offer protection to those who need it.”  

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Deportations from Leipzig airport.

Deportations from Leipzig airport. The repatriation package was adopted by the Cabinet.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Michael Kappeler

A key step towards limiting irregular migration is to speed up repatriations and deportations of those who have no right to remain in Germany. The Bundestag passed legislation to this effect on 18 January 2024. 

The repatriation package includes a raft of measures to make procedures more effective and enforce deportation rules more consistently. This involves speeding up deportations of criminals and dangerous individuals.

Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser stressed that these restrictive measures were essential to enable Germany to continue to live up to its humanitarian responsibilities towards those who seek protection from war and terror, such as the 1.1 million refugees from Ukraine. “These restrictive measures are also necessary for ensuring public acceptance of protection offered to refugees as well as for successful integration,” Faeser added.  

What individual measures are included in the draft law?

  1. Custody pending removal: In line with constitutional and European law, the maximum period is to be extended from 10 to 28 days, giving the authorities more time to prepare deportations.
  2. Repatriating criminals: There is a particularly strong interest in removing individuals who have been sentenced to more than one year in prison, which is why deporting them will be easier in future.
  3. The deportation  of traffickers is to be expedited with particular urgency.
  4. The new plans will also make it much easier to deport members of criminal associations. It will in future be possible to deport these individuals regardless of whether they have been convicted of a specific offence, as long as there is adequate evidence to show that they are a member of a criminal association. This is another tool available for fighting organised crime structures.
  5. The draft law also allows searches of homes for data storage devices and documents, particularly in cases where there is a need to positively identify an individual.
  6. The proposed legislation would also allow authorities to enter other rooms in shared accommodation, under strict conditions in line with the rule of law. In cases involving deportation, this would ensure that the authorities would be able to find the person concerned in shared accommodation.
  7. Violations of prohibitions on entry and residence will be considered as sufficient grounds for deportation detention.
  8. Deportation will no longer be announced for prison inmates who are subject to orders to leave the country. In the same way, the draft law scraps the duty to give one month’s notice of deportation (which was followed at least one year’s temporary suspension of the order). Exceptions are made for families with children aged under 12.
  9. The draft laws would also make it possible to enforce bans on entry and residence, orders to live at a specified address, and movement restrictions with immediate effect so as to increase their effectiveness.
  10. The draft law also includes proposals to reduce the burden on agencies dealing with foreign nationals. In specific terms, this means extending the validity of residency permits in asylum cases from three months to six. Residence permits for dependants of those claiming asylum will be extended from one year to three. The draft law also includes provisions for electronic residency permits for foreigners holding settlement permits or permission for long-term residency in the EU. 

Which amendments to the draft law were adopted in the Bundestag?   

The Federal Government’s draft law was amended or supplemented in the Bundestag by means of the parliamentary procedure. A summary.

  • Minors and families that include minors must “not be confined in detention centres as a general rule”. Exceptions apply, for example, to dangerous under-age individuals and young offenders. 
  • Those affected by proceedings involving deportation detention or custody pending removal are to receive support from a court-appointed lawyer.
  • In order to fight illegal trafficking, planning provides for harsher sentences for this type of offences. 
  • It is clearly established that rescuing shipwrecked persons will continue to not be punishable
  • In future, asylum seekers will receive the lower asylum seeker benefits for three years, rather than 18 months.
  • Foreign nationals who are required to live in a reception facility will be able to take up employment after 6 instead of after 9 months. 
  • The period of full employment required for "tolerated" status is decreased from 18 to 12 months. The minimum weekly working hours are reduced from 35 to 20 hours in this context. 
  • The reference date for eligibility for obtaining "tolerated" status for employees is changed from 1 August 2018 to the end of 2022 to enable more individuals to benefit from this option. 

More information is available from the Federal Ministry of the Interior.