The German government has reformed both the provisions governing the right to stay in Germany and the laws governing expulsion and deportation. Immigrants are to be granted the right to stay in Germany after eight years of residence. Families with children under the age of eighteen will obtain the right of abode after only six years.
The new legislation will come into effect on 1 August.
Well integrated foreigners, who have been living in Germany for a long time, are to be granted the right of permanent residence. The new legislation also changes the rules with respect to expulsion and deportation. Foreigners with no prospects of being granted the right to stay in Germany are to be returned to their countries of origin more rigorously.
Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière praised the legislation, which he described as an important signal to the many thousands of people in Germany with tolerated residence status, who have worked particularly hard to integrate. "The message is that you belong here."
In future foreigners who have lived in Germany for eight years are to be given the right to stay. The time limit for families with children under the age of eighteen will be six years. The precondition is that their livelihoods are largely assured and that they can speak German. They must not have a criminal record.
The options for well integrated young foreigners to stay legally in Germany are also to be extended. To this end the provisions governing the right of abode for young people with tolerated residence status are once again to be relaxed. Young foreigners who have lived in Germany for four years (as opposed to the six years residence required to date) and who have attended school successfully for four years in Germany will in future have good prospects of obtaining the right of abode. In this way the German government is responding better to the demands of young people who are particularly able to integrate.
The law also provides for improvements in the residence rights of victims of human trafficking. Residence regulations for vulnerable refugees will be independent of age or any cut-off dates. These ‘resettlement refugees’ as they known, are to be given long-term prospects.
The German programme to resettle people seeking refuge was adopted by the Standing Conference of the Interior Ministers and Senators of the German Federal States in late 2011. The programme ran as a pilot project for an initial period of three years as of 2012. Resettlement aims to give vulnerable individuals who have fled their home country to another state where they have no long-term prospects new opportunities in another host country. The German resettlement programme will be continued in 2015 on the basis of the successful pilot measure. Since 2012 300 refugees have come to Germany every year within the scope of the programme.
The new law radically revises expulsion law. Resolute steps are to be taken to end the residence of those without residence rights in Germany. Their obligation to leave the country is then also to be enforced compulsorily. The new aliens law regulations make greater provision for tackling extremists who are prepared to use violence.