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efms Migration Report

December 2000

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EU Guidelines for harmonising asylum laws and immigration policies

The European Commission has presented its proposals on harmonising European asylum laws at a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Interior and Justice. The paper calls for a common asylum system in all EU member states, including the harmonisation of asylum procedures, the legal status of asylum applicants, asylum laws and protection under the Geneva Convention. According to Mr. Schily, the German Minister of the Interior (SPD), and representatives of the CDU, the main opposition party, there is a risk that the planned EU guidelines on asylum could "undermine" the German asylum system, especially in view of German regulations on safe "third countries". The planned common EU policy on migration also includes harmonised regulations for entries of non-EU nationals, based on a joint evaluation of economic and demographic developments in EU countries. These plans have also been criticised by members of the German government on the grounds that any expansion of EU entry regulations could undermine national immigration restrictions. According to Mr. Schily, the planned EU guideline on family migration, for example, which allows the entry of distant relatives and unmarried partners of non-EU nationals, could as much as triple the number of persons entitled to family migration under German law. The Bundesrat, the upper house of the German parliament, has also rejected the EU proposals on extending family migration.
BMI Press Announcement 1.12.00 // FAZ 6.12.00 // FR 9.12.00 // FAZ 15.12.00 // Bundesrat Press Announcement 21.12.00

Debate on immigration: opinions of political parties converge

In the debate on immigration, the opinions of CDU and SPD, the two major political parties, seem to be converging in several aspects. General-Secretaries Meyer (CDU) and Muentefering (SPD) have both emphasised that any reform of immigration laws has to take into consideration the education and employment chances of the people already living in Germany. Their views are in line with urgent demands put forward by the DGB, Germany"s major trade union organisation. Mr. Struck, leader of the SPD parliamentary party, has also stressed that qualification programmes for unemployed and employed residents of Germany should take priority over the recruitment of additional labour from abroad. General-Secretaries Meyer (CDU) and Muentefering (SPD) have agreed on making "concerted efforts" to reform immigration laws within the following year 2001. They aim at a comprehensive package of immigration reform including political asylum regulations.
taz 5.12.00 // Welt 11.12.00 // FR 11.12.00 // NN 28.12.00

Ban on gainful employment of asylum applicants lifted

Starting January 1, 2001, asylum applicants and foreign nationals with a toleration certificate will be allowed to take up gainful employment after a one-year waiting period. According to a decree of the Federal Government, the persons mentioned above can be granted a work permit for posts that cannot be filled with job applicants from Germany or other EU countries. In addition, foreign nationals with a residence allowance, e.g. war or civil-war refugees, can also receive work permits without the otherwise obligatory waiting period. The reform is expected to relieve welfare budgets by approximately DM 900 million. Marieluise Beck, the Federal Government Commissioner for Foreigners and Integration (The Greens), has welcomed this measures since they are expected to have a positive effect both on the labour market and the integration of foreign nationals. Business representatives are in favour of the reform, too, because of their demand for workers in simple, low-income jobs. However, some of the Laender, e.g. as North Rhine-Westphalia, have imposed restrictions for certain job groups where asylum applicants will not allowed to take up employment.
SZ 7.12.00 // Spiegel 11.12.00 // Zeit 14.12.00 // FAZ 19.12.00 // taz 28.12.00

Federal Government Commissioner for Foreigners and Integration presents integration package: integration contracts and vouchers

Marieluise Beck (The Greens), the Federal Government Commissioner for Foreigners and Integration, will present her proposals for a new integration law on December 12. The package includes the introduction of so-called "integration contracts" between migrants and German authorities: under these contracts, migrants are obliged to respect German law and learn the German language. Conversely, German authorities will make offers to further integration, such as counselling, language and integration courses. The plan also proposes incentives for taking part in these integration programmes, such as easier access to work and residence permits for migrants. The implementation is to take the form of a flexible and individual system of so-called "integration vouchers" that will be part of the integration programme "Welcome-Integration- vouchers for Immigrants" (WIN). These vouchers will be valid for three years after entering Germany and entitle migrants to take part in counselling and 200-hour German language courses. The programme is expected to cost DM 620 million and is to be financed jointly by the Federal Government and the Laender. It does not include sanctions or disadvantages for migrants that refuse to take part or are unable to complete the programme successfully.
Announcement of the Federal Government Commissioner for Foreigners and Integration 12.12.00 // FAZ 13.12.00 // Welt 13.12.00

Visa obligation lifted for nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada and New Zealand

According to a decree issued by Mr. Schily, the Federal Minister of the Interior, which will come into force on December 15, 2000, nationals of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada and New Zealand will no longer need a visa for entering Germany, and will also be able to obtain a residence permit from local authorities after entering Germany. Up to now, this procedure has only been applied to EU-nationals, Swiss and US citizens. Foreign nationals with German children will also profit from the new regulations. In addition, entering Germany will also be made easier for young people from abroad participating in so-called "Working Holiday" programmes.
BMI Announcement 15.12.00 // FR 16.12.00

New citizenship law has led to more naturalisations

Marieluise Beck, the Federal Government Commissioner for Foreigners and Integration, has pointed out the positive effects of the new citizenship law, which has been in force since Jan 1, 2000: The number of applications for naturalisation has risen significantly to 200,000, an increase of approximately 40%. Additionally, about 50,000 children of foreign nationals have been awarded the German citizenship at birth. According to a survey by the "Financial Times Deutschland", the new law has only led to an increased number of naturalisations in some areas of Germany: numbers have risen in the cities of Cologne, Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt. By contrast, there has even been a decrease in naturalisations in cities like Berlin, Duisburg and Stuttgart. This is mainly caused by the fact that many foreign nationals do not think they will be able to pass the obligatory German language test. Furthermore, especially Turkish nationals are reluctant to give up their Turkish citizenship. Other changes in the law which have made it easier for children that are younger than ten years to be naturalised, so-called "children naturalisations", did hardly produce the expected effect. Applications were submitted for less than 10% of the children entitled to easier naturalisation under the new law. Originally, these new regulations for children were only to be in force until the end of the year 2000, as the Bundesrat, where the conservative parties CDU and CSU have the majority, has so far objected to extending them. Otto Schily, the Federal Minister of the Interior, together with the parliamentary parties of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP, have demanded that the regulations be extended and the administrative fee of DM 500 per each child be abolished, which in their view constitutes the main obstacle for the effectiveness of the new law. In a cabinet decision taken in January, the Federal Government has decided to accept further applications on the behalf of children until December 31, 2002. In addition, the administrative fee is to be lowered to DM 100 per child.
FAZ 2.12.00 // taz 6.12.00 // SZ 11.12.00 // SZ 18.12.00 // FR 19.12.00 // NN 21.12.00 // FR 28.12.00 // dpa 28.12.00

More than 4,200 Green Cards issued

The Federal Office of Employment has reported that, since their introduction in August 2000, 4,214 so-called Green Cards have been issued to IT specialists from abroad. Bavarian employers ranked first among the Laender with 1,181 Green Cards for IT workers, followed by Baden-Württemberg with 1181 persons and Hesse with 842 persons. The main source countries of the IT specialists were India, followed by Russia (639 persons), the Ukraine, the Baltic States and Romania (400 persons). The President of the Federal Office of Employment expects that the quota, which has been set at 20,000 for 5 years, will be completely exhausted after only two years.
SZ 30.12.00 // Welt am Sonntag 9.1.02

Statistics on ethnic German immigrants (Spätaussiedler)

With 96,615 ethnic German immigrants (Spätaussiedler) entering Germany in 2000, their number has fallen below 100,000 for the first time since 1987. The year 1999 had still seen 104,916 entries of Spätaussiedler. The total of entry applications amounted to 106,895 in 2000. This decrease is part of a continuing trend that has been going on for approximately three years. Among the entries, the percentage of ethnic Germans has been falling, but the percentage of spouses and children accompanying them has increased. According to Mr. Welt, the Federal Commissioner for Spätaussiedler, the integration of the latter group poses some severe problems as they often have hardly any knowledge of the German language. On account of that, his office is working both on additional preparatory programmes in source countries and more individual support and counselling for Spätaussiedler that have arrived in Germany.
FR 3.1.01 // BMI Press Announcement 7.12.00 // BMI Press Announcement 4.1.01 // taz 5.1.01

Asylum statistics 2000

5,963 asylum applications were submitted in December. 3.2% of the applicants were officially recognised as entitled to political asylum. An additional 12.2% are legally protected against deportation. On the whole, 78,564 persons have submitted asylum applications in 2000, the lowest number since 1987. Compared to 1999, the number of applicants from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia alone has dropped by 20,000. Nevertheless, Yugoslavia still ranks second among source countries, after Iraq, which ranks first, and before Turkey, which is third. The number of follow-on applications has again increased significantly, up from 31.2% in 1999 to 33.2% in 2000. The recognition rate has remained stable with 3%, exactly the same rate as in 1999. The percentage of applicants protected against deportation under Art.51 Par.1 Foreigners Act has risen to 7.9% (compared to 4.5% in 1999), the highest figure since respective statistics have been introduced in 1994. According to the latest UNHCR statistics on asylum in Europe, Germany has for the first time been replaced by the United Kingdom as the country with the largest inflows of asylum seekers in Europe. With asylum applications for the year 2000 amounting to 97,800 in the United Kingdom, Germany now ranks second, followed by the Netherlands with 43,900 asylum applications. The total number of asylum applications submitted in Europe has fallen to 471,000 in 2000, a decrease of 4% (compared to 452,000 in 1999).
FR 3.1.01 // BMI Press Announcement 4.1.01 // taz 5.1.01

December 2000

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