Residency for humanitarian reasons

Residency of a foreigner according to international law, for humanitarian reasons or for political reasons is generally possible in the following cases:

  • Foreigners are issued with a residency permit (legal entitlement) if they are irrevocably recognised as being entitled to asylum (politically persecuted persons as defined under Article 16a Paragraph 1 of the German Constitution), as foreign refugees under the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees (so-called Convention refugee) or as a secondary person entitled to protection. The residency is considered to be permitted until the time of issuing of the residency permit. The residency permit provides an entitlement to take up paid employment.
  • In case of a prohibition of deportation to the home country independently of asylum (for example if the person affected is threatened with torture, inhumane treatment or the death penalty in the country to which he or she is to be deported), a residency permit should be issued.
  • Should other reasons preventing departure from Germany be present, a temporary residency permit can be issued. The requirement for this is that it is not possible to leave Germany for legal or actual reasons. The reason preventing departure from Germany must be unlikely to cease in the foreseeable future. As a rule, the residency permit may not be issued if the foreigner caused the reason preventing departure from Germany himself or herself and could correct this.
  • Also if foreigners have been victims of a crime under §§ 232, 233 or 233a of the German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch) - human trafficking and they are required to act as a witness in a criminal trial, they can be generally issued with a residency permit for six months, which can be extended if applicable.
  • If certain requirements are met, well integrated young people or adolescents can be issued with a residency permit, should it appear to be guaranteed that they can adapt to life in the Federal Republic of Germany due to their previous education and attitude. A minimum period of residency of four years is also required for this.
  • Well integrated foreigners can be issued with a residency permit if certain requirements are met, provided that they can ensure their maintenance through paid employment. A minimum period of residency of eight years is required for this. Should an unmarried child under the age of eighteen reside in the household, the minimum period of residency is six years.

In addition, there are further reasons for the issuing of a residency permit in special cases under international law, for humanitarian reasons or for political reasons.

  • A foreigner will be admitted from abroad for reasons under international law, for humanitarian reasons or for political reasons and issued with a residency permit if the Federal Ministry of the Interior or its nominated body has declared the admission in order to safeguard political interests.
  • Furthermore, the highest State authority can order that foreigners from certain countries or other defined groups of foreigners be issued with a residency permit for reasons under international law, for humanitarian reasons or in order to safeguard the political interests of the Federal Republic of Germany (so-called right to remain regulations). In order to maintain standards across Germany, the order must take place with the agreement of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
  • Should the Hardship Commission issue a hardship request in cases where urgent humanitarian or political reasons justify continued presence of the foreigner in Germany, the upper State authority may order that foreigners who are subject to enforced departure from Germany be issued with a residency permit in deviation from the requirements for the issuing and extension of a residency title in the German Residency Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz).

The residency permit will be issued for a maximum of three years for the reasons stated above, however in most cases only for a maximum of six months, should the foreigner not yet have been lawfully in Germany for at least 18 months.

Foreigners who have been irrevocably recognised as being entitled to asylum or as Convention refugees will be issued with a permanent settlement permit after five years, unless the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees has provided prior notification to the Foreigners' Authority that the requirements for the revocation or confiscation of protected status are present. This period can also be shortened to three years if certain requirements are met. Otherwise, in case of residence in Germany for reasons under international law, for humanitarian reasons or for political reasons, a permanent settlement permit can be issued after five years if certain requirements are met.

Note: The residency permit may not be extended if the reason preventing departure from Germany or the other reasons preventing the cessation of residency in Germany no longer apply.

It is generally possible for foreigners who have been irrevocably recognised as being entitled to asylum or as Convention refugees to bring their husband or wife and children to Germany.

Otherwise, the possibility for persons who are in Germany for reasons connected to international law or for humanitarian or political reasons to bring their family to Germany is extremely limited.

Release note

The German original version of this text was drafted in close cooperation with the relevant departments. The Innenministerium released it on 22.08.2017. Only the German text is legally binding. The Federal State does not assume any liability for the translated texts.
In cases of doubt or if you have any questions or problems, please contact the relevant authorities directly.