New law allows asylum rejects to stay in Germany

29th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

29 March 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet on Wednesday approved a reform of Germany's immigration laws, giving failed asylum-seekers a chance to remain in the country on a legal basis. The compromise reached between Merkel's Christian Democrats and her Social Democrat coalition partner is designed to end the legal limbo of people whose asylum applications have been rejected but who cannot be deported for humanitarian reasons. Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said up to 100,000 of

29 March 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet on Wednesday approved a reform of Germany's immigration laws, giving failed asylum-seekers a chance to remain in the country on a legal basis.

The compromise reached between Merkel's Christian Democrats and her Social Democrat coalition partner is designed to end the legal limbo of people whose asylum applications have been rejected but who cannot be deported for humanitarian reasons.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said up to 100,000 of the 170,000 foreigners "tolerated" in Germany could benefit from the new measures, providing they meet certain criteria.

Most of them come from Afghanistan, Iraq or Kosovo. Although not deported, they were denied residence permits which would have allowed them to study or find employment.

Under the new law, tolerated foreigners can obtain legal residence provided they find jobs by the end of 2009 and have lived in Germany for at least eight years, or six for families with children.

Another condition is that applicants do not have a criminal record and do not place a burden on local authorities by seeking additional welfare payments once they have found employment.

The new law also allows for general access to the labour market by tolerated foreigners who have lived in Germany for four years, although they will still have to wait for a residence permit.

Schaeuble described the reforms as a major step towards a European harmonization of asylum laws and said they would benefit the German labour market while easing pressure on the welfare system.

The nearly 500-page draft law also contains provisions for fingerprinting applicants for visas of more than three months and cutting welfare payments to foreigners who refuse to take part in integration courses.

Another section sets a minimum age of 18 years for foreign spouses to join their partners in Germany, provided the partner is also 18 or older. The newcomer is also required to have a basic knowledge of German.

Officials said the move was intended to counter forced or arranged marriages. However, exceptions can be made in the cases of highly- qualified personnel and people who set up companies in Germany.

Refugee organizations criticized the draft law as insufficient, pointing out that people who failed to obtain work by the deadline still faced deportation. Particularly affected were the old and the handicapped, they said.

A spokeswoman for the DGB Trade Union Federation said the new regulations "are not a solution to better integration, but only deal with old cases which only benefit a minority."

The new measures have to be approved by both the lower and upper houses of parliament before they can come into force by the target date of July 15, this year.

DPA

Subject: German news

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