Between 2012 and 2016 the applications of asylum seekers from certain countries were prioritised, either on the grounds that they were considered to be manifestly unfounded (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, FYROM, Serbia, Kosovo) or on the grounds that they were considered to be well-founded (Syria, Eritrea, religious minorities from Iraq).
Prioritisation of applications from certain countries was revoked in the second quarter of 2016. Since then, branch offices of the BAMF are entitled to set their own priorities in dealing with caseloads, in order to respond effectively to the local situation.1 Furthermore, prioritisation has partially been replaced by “clustering” of cases in the newly established “arrival centres” (Ankunftszentren) as discussed in Prioritised Examination and Fast-Track Processing. In these centres, asylum cases are divided into the following four groups:2
Cluster A: Countries of origin with a high protection rate (from 50 % upwards)
Cluster B: Countries of origin with a low protection rate (up to 20 %)
Cluster C: “Complex cases”
Cluster D: “Dublin cases”
Asylum seekers belonging to the groups of “Cluster A” and “Cluster B” should usually be interviewed within a few days after the registration of their asylum applications.
Due to a policy change in the first months of 2016, the BAMF granted subsidiary protection instead of refugee protection in a record number of cases. This policy change affected Syrian nationals in particular, but also asylum seekers from Iraq or Eritrea: For instance, 95.8% of Syrians had been granted refugee status in 2015, this rate dropped to 56.4% in 2016. Conversely, the rate of Syrians being granted subsidiary protection rose from 0.1% in 2015 to 41.2% in 2016. The policy change at the BAMF coincided with a legislative change in March 2016, according to which family reunification was suspended for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection until March 2018 (see section on Family Reunification). Tens of thousands of beneficiaries of subsidiary protection appealed against the authorities’ decisions in order to gain refugee status (“upgrade-appeals”), with a success rate of more than 75% in 2016.3
- 1. Federal Government, Reply to parliamentary question by The Left, 18/9415, 17 August 2016, 23.
- 2. BAMF, The stages of the German asylum procedure: An overview of the individual procedural steps and the legal basis. October 2016, 29.
- 3. Federal Government, Reply to parliamentary question by the Left, 18/11262, 21 February 2017, 67-68.