Residence Law Issues for People from Ukraine in Germany

Updated: March 31, 2022

Due to the war in Ukraine and the associated migration of people from Ukraine, many questions regarding residence law are currently arising. This document takes up these questions and answers them based on the current legal situation. Some questions have not yet been clarified or the legal situation is being successively adapted by the Federal Government of Germany, the governments of the Federal States (“Länder”) and the competent authorities. This document is no official information from the German government or any other public body. Therefore, you cannot refer to it when contacting German authorities. The latest information is incorporated into the document, it is a so-called “living document”.  

Immigration

Can I enter Germany from Ukraine?

All people who want to come from Ukraine to Germany after February 24, 2022, may enter Germany and stay here until May 23, 2022. The regulation also applies to other third-country nationals who have stayed in Ukraine (for example students, persons without papers, tourists and refugees).

These persons do not need a visa, residence permit nor authorisation for a visa-free stay to enter and stay. They can legally stay in Germany until May 23, 2022.

This results from the regulation of the German Ministry of the Interior (Ukraine Transitional Residence Ordinance)  which is valid since March 9, 2022. It applies retroactively. This means that all entries of refugees from Ukraine after February 24, 2022, will thus become legal entries.

According to the President of the Federal Police, it should be possible for persons at the border to prove their connection to Ukraine. If necessary, the Federal Police will take measures to establish identity at the border. According to Section 49 of the German Residence Act, such measures include, for example, checking passports and other identity documents, taking fingerprints or checking whether biometric data (fingerprints and photographs) are already stored in other databases.

Possible documents for such proof are the Ukrainian passport, identity card or residence permit, further documents such as marriage certificates or birth certificates, or, if necessary, further documents such as employment contracts, tenancy agreements or invoices from hospital stays which can prove that the persons have stayed in Ukraine.

The other regulations on entry and residence continue to apply. This basically means that persons who, for example, are subject to an entry and residence ban due to a previous stay in Germany (Section 11 of the Residence Act), are still not allowed to enter the country. However, if the conditions for granting residence on humanitarian grounds, such as under Section 24 of the Residence Act, are met (see “Special humanitarian residence title for refugees from Ukraine“), the entry ban is to be lifted (Section 11 (4) sentence 2 of the Residence Act)

I live in Ukraine but was abroad when the war broke out. Can I enter Germany?

Yes, but only if you have Ukrainian citizenship or have lived in Ukraine as a recognised refugee with protection status under the Geneva Convention or other international or national protection. If you were abroad for a holiday or an internship, for example, you can enter Germany from there.

If you have been living in Ukraine with another residence title (for example, for studies) or with a permanent right of residence, but were abroad on February 24, 2022, for example, for a visit to your country of origin, then you cannot enter Germany. This results from the regulation of the German Ministry of the Interior which is valid from March 9, 2022. It applies retroactively.

Can I travel on to other states of the European Union and the Schengen Area?

Ukrainian citizens with a biometric passport can travel without a visa in the European Union and the Schengen Area for 90 days within 180 days. You can therefore travel on to other countries of the European Union and the Schengen Area. 

In addition, nationals of other states are also entitled to a visa-free stay.  

Border controls take place between Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus or Ireland and the states of the Schengen area. Your documents will be checked again there.  

People can enter the Schengen states Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein for a visa-free stay. However, the regulations on humanitarian residence permits do not apply here, as these states are not members of the European Union.  

Information from the European Commission on entry, onward travel and residence in other states of the European Union can be found here in English. To what extent other states of the European Union also allow Ukrainian citizens without biometric passports or other third-country nationals to enter the country for humanitarian reasons, is informed in the websites of the governments or at the embassy of the state. If necessary, you can apply for a visa at the embassy of the state in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary or Romania.

Can I also enter and stay in Germany if I do not have a valid passport?

In principle, persons need a recognised and valid passport or passport substitute to enter Germany (Section 13 (1 )sentence 2 of the Residence Act). However, there are currently exceptions for refugees from Ukraine.

For Ukrainian citizens, the Ukrainian ID card (ID Card Model 2015) is temporarily recognized as a passport replacement until February 23, 2023. Holders of such an ID card must not apply first for a passport at the Ukrainian embassy.

All other groups of persons covered by the Ukraine Transitional Residence Ordinance (see “Can I enter Germany from Ukraine?“) are initially exempt from the legal obligation to have a passport (letter from the German Ministry of the Interior dated 18.03.2022). The same rules apply to them as to persons who seek help in the event of an accident or disaster (Section 14 of the Ordinance on Residence (AufenthV). The entry without a passport is not punishable for these groups of people. However, the exemption from the obligation to hold a passport only applies as long as the obtainment or application for a passport or passport replacement is unreasonable due to the special circumstances (Section 14 sentence 2 of the Ordinance on Residence (AufenthV)). When this is to be assumed is still unclear.  Persons can therefore be requested by the Foreigners’ Registration Office to obtain a passport from the embassy of their country of origin after entry (Section 14 (3) of the Residence Act (AufenthG)). In this case, you should seek advice from a local migration counselling centre (see “Where  can I get personal advice on a case-by-case basis?”)

Stay without a visa

I am in Germany now. How long can I stay in Germany?

All persons who travelled from Ukraine to Germany after February 24, 2022, may stay in Germany until May 23, 2022. Accordingly, the regulation also applies to other third-country nationals who have stayed in Ukraine.

Ukrainian nationals with residence or habitual abode in Ukraine who were not in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, but were abroad, for example, for a holiday or an internship, may also enter Germany and stay here until May 23, 2022. The same applies to refugees recognised in Ukraine with protection status under the Geneva Refugee Convention or other international or national protection.

Ukrainian nationals who have already legally stayed in Germany for a short stay on February 24, 2022 (based on a visa-free stay or with a Schengen visa), can also stay in Germany until May 23, 2022, according to this regulation.

This results from the regulation of the German Ministry of the Interior, which is valid from March 9, 2022. It applies retroactively. This means that all entries of refugees from Ukraine after February 24, 2022, become legal entries.

The regulation was limited to three months because the approval of the Bundesrat, a German legislative body, would have been required beyond that. An extension beyond May 23, 2022, at least for some of the groups mentioned above, is thus likely. Especially since the registration of refugees and issuance of longer-term residence titles will probably take more time due to the high numbers of arrivals.

Can I work during my visa-free stay?

No, in principle, you cannot work until you have been granted a residence permit by the locally competent foreigners’ registration office, which permits dependent employment.

Exceptions to the work ban are possible for Ukrainian citizens who have a biometric passport because they are entitled to visa-free entry. They can work if, for example, they hold management positions in companies or are scientists, researchers, charitable workers, journalists and professional athletes and work in their respective fields here in Germany (Section 17 (2) of the Ordinance on Residence in conjunction with Section 30 of the Ordinance on the Employment of Foreigners). Please seek advice from a counselling centre (see “Where can I get personal advice on a case-by-case basis?”)

Can I apply for social benefits during my visa-free stay?

According to the German Federal Ministry of the Interior and several federal states (including for example North Rhine-WestphaliaMecklenburg-Western PomeraniaHesse), a person is entitled to benefits under the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act before being granted a residence permit under the Residence Act (Section 24) and without having applied for asylum. The social welfare office must provide subsistence benefits according to the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act.  

Further information on legal entitlements can be found here (Gemeinnützige Gesellschaft zur Unterstützung Asylsuchender e. V.). 

There is also support from associations and initiatives in most larger cities in Germany, which may provide money, accommodation, clothing, food and/or hygiene items. 

Specific Humanitarian Residence Title for Refugees from Ukraine (according to section 24 of the Residence Act (AufenthG))

Will I receive a humanitarian residence title in Germany because of the war?

There is a new residence title according to section 24 of the Residence Act, especially for refugees from Ukraine. According to information from the German Ministry of the Interior, the following persons can apply for this residence title if they have lived in Ukraine before February 24, 2022:

  • Ukrainian nationals with their family members 
  • Non-Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons with international or national protection status in Ukraine with their family members

Family members are

  • spouses
  • Unmarried partners (including same-sex partners) who are in a long-term relationship.
  • Minor unmarried children (also children born out of wedlock or adopted)
  • Other close relatives who were living within the family unit as of February 24, 2022, and depend on the family for their livelihood (e.g. unmarried children who have reached the age of majority on the mentioned date).

These family members have their own entitlement to the granting of the residence permit in accordance with section 24 of the Residence Act. It is not a condition that they apply for protection in the same state. Later, if desired, a reunification of separated family members can take place.

A non-marital partnership is assumed if the persons live monogamously, are not married to other persons and a further permanent cohabitation is intended.

This is initially assumed after a conclusive presentation by those affected since it will be only for a few people possible to provide the necessary evidence due to the flight (for example, evidence of cohabitation of 2 years; Sharing of expenses for housing, vehicle, insurance, etc.; shared ownership; common children; joint housekeeping).

In addition, the following persons are also granted humanitarian residence under the Residence Act (Section 24):

  • Non-Ukrainian nationals or stateless persons with a permanent right of residence in Ukraine who cannot safely and permanently return to their home country.
  • Non-Ukrainian nationals with a non-permanent legal right of residence in Ukraine who cannot return to their home country safely and permanently. The stay in Ukraine must not have been merely temporary and short-term.

For these groups of people, family reunification is possible if the family members do not have a right of residence in Ukraine themselves (see ” Can I fetch my family to join up in Germany?”).

A stay is considered temporary and short-term if it was not intended to exceed 90 days in the first place and had a temporary purpose. This is the case for tourists, business travellers or visitors.

Non-Ukrainian third-country nationals or stateless persons who are residing or have resided lawfully in Ukraine cannot return safely and permanently to their country of origin if they would have to be granted a temporary suspension of deportation (“Duldung”) pursuant to the Residence Act (Sections 60 or60a) in the event that they were neither granted temporary protection nor granted another residence title in Germany. This does not include temporary suspension of deportation for training or employment. The German Ministry of the Interior may provide further guidance on the precise interpretation of the characteristic of when a person is unable to return safely and permanently. The European Commission has pointed out in the guidelines of 21.03.2022 that this is a new term that has not yet been defined. The current situation in the country of origin or region of origin as well as the circumstantial evidence and evidence presented by those seeking protection are relevant. These are security risks, armed conflicts, constant violence and the risk of persecution or inhuman or degrading treatment in the country or region of origin. In addition, it is relevant to what extent the person can meet their basic needs and if reintegration into the society of the country of origin is possible. Furthermore, the extent to which those seeking protection have a connection to their country of origin and family connections must be taken into account. The length of stay in Ukraine can also be relevant. Those seeking protection should seek individual advice from a counselling centre (  see “Where  can I get personal advice on a case-by-case basis?”)

You can also apply for humanitarian residence under the new regulation in another member state of the European Union. Currently, there is no distribution of refugees among the European states. Rather, you can decide for yourself in which state you apply for the residence title. You can also apply for other residence permits in Germany.

Background: With this regulation, the so-called mass influx directive 2001/55/EC is applied for the first time. The Council of the European Union passed the necessary resolution on March 4, 2022. The residence title in Germany is regulated in section 24 of the Residence Act. The persons who fall under the regulation receive a humanitarian residence title without having to go through an asylum procedure. If a person has already applied for asylum and then receives the humanitarian residence title, the asylum procedure is suspended until the humanitarian residence title ends (Section 32a Asylum Act). After that, the asylum procedure can be resumed upon application.

An overview of the legal framework in German can be found here.

Contact a migration advice centre in your area as soon as possible (see “Where can I get personal advice on a case-by-case basis?”) and find out about your options for staying in Germany if you wish to do so.

Can I fetch my family to join up in Germany?

If family members have their own entitlement to a residence permit in accordance with the Residence Act (Section 24) (see “Will I receive a humanitarian residence title in Germany because of the war?”), the legal provisions for family reunification do not apply.

If the family members do not have an entitlement to the humanitarian residence title according to section 24 of the Residence Act, family reunification is regulated by section 29 (4) of the Residence Act. The provision applies to

  • Spouses
  • Minor unmarried children
  • Minor unmarried children of the spouse.

The prerequisite is that

  • the family relationship in the country of origin has been annulled due to the flight situation (Section 29 (4) no. 1 of the Residence Act) and
  • the family member is taken over from another member state of the European Union or is outside the European Union and is in need of protection.

In accordance with the Residence Act (Section 24), other family members may be granted a residence permit, if this is necessary to avoid exceptional hardship ((§ 29 Abs.4 S.2 AufenthG i.V.m. § 36 Abs.2 AufenthG).

The German Ministry of the Interior determines the need for protection: it is given if these persons were displaced for the same reasons and come from Ukraine as the title holders according to Section 24 of the Residence Act (regardless of nationality).

The family members who are admitted according to this provision also receive the humanitarian residence title according to Section 24 of the Residence Act.

Where can I apply for the new humanitarian residence title according to the Residence Act (Section 24)?

The new residence title according to Section24 of the Residence Act can be applied for at the locally responsible foreigners authorities.  Find out about the registration options in the federal state and city where you are staying. You can find information on the websites of the foreigners authorities or on the federal states at the Information Network Asylum & Migration.

Do I have to register in the city where I arrive? Can I stay in the city where I register?

From March 16, 2022, arrivals from Ukraine will be distributed among the federal states (EASY-Procedure). (Letter from the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community from 15.03.2022) The protection seekers will be distributed among the federal states according to quotas. In some federal states that have already taken in a large number of protection seekers (for example, Berlin), there will initially be no redistribution. Protection seekers who would like to stay in these federal states anyway, for example because they have relatives there or have found a place to live, should inform themselves locally about the conditions under which they can stay in the federal state of their choice.

Please inform yourself locally at an advice centre (see “Where can I get personal advice on a case-by-case basis?”) as the regulations for registration may differ in the individual federal states and cities. Further information from the German Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community is awaited.

It is also planned to establish so-called “HUBs” in Wroclaw (Poland) and Rzepin (Poland), from there the onward journey to Germany or another state of the EU will be organized.

If I apply for a humanitarian residence title (under Section 24 of the Residence Act), do I have to hand in my passport?

No, the passport would only be confiscated in an asylum procedure. When registering, only a copy of your passport should be made.

Do I need a passport to apply for the residence title?

In principle, you need a passport or a recognized passport substitute to apply for a residence title.

The Ukrainian ID card is exceptionally recognized as a substitute for a passport until February 23, 2023 (general decree of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community from March 17, 2022). Ukrainian nationals can therefore also be granted a residence permit with an ID card.

Check with the Ukrainian Embassy in Berlin to see if they can issue you a passport. Currently, expired Ukrainian passports are extended by handwriting and information of children over 16 years of age is entered by handwriting and the children’s photos are inserted in the parents’ passports. Handwritten additions/renewals with consular seal/stamp will be accepted by German authorities until further notice.

At the moment, the Ukrainian missions abroad also issue certificates in the sense of identity clarification with photos.

Other refugees from Ukraine who do not have Ukrainian citizenship are initially exempt from the obligation to have a passport (circular letter from the German Federal Ministry of the Interior and Comunity dated March 18, 2022). The same rules apply to them as to people who seek help in the event of an accident or disaster (Section 14 of the Ordinance on Residence)

The exemption from the obligation to have a passport only applies as long as the application for a passport or a passport substitute is unreasonable due to special circumstances (Section 14 sentence 2 of the Ordinance on Residence). It is still unclear when this is to be applied. After entering the country, people can be asked to obtain a passport from the embassy of their country of origin (Section 48(3) of the Residence Act). In this case, you should seek advice from a local migration counselling center (see “Where can I get personal advice in individual cases?”).

A passport is not required to be granted a residence permit under (Section 24 of the Residence Act) if the person can provide some other way that they meet the requirements. For this residence permit there is an exception to the obligation to have a passport (Section 5 (3) sentence 1 of the Residence Act)

You will then receive a substitute ID card from the foreigners’ authority (Section 48 (4) of the Residence Act). However, this is only valid in Germany; you cannot use it to travel to other countries. You will also need further documents with which you can prove that you previously resided in Ukraine or had your residence there (for example, an identity card, Student ID, contract of employment, or rental agreement). The issuance of the residence permit according to Section 24 of the Residence Act may not be refused due to the lack of a passport.

Can I move to another city/town in Germany with the humanitarian residence title according to Section 24 of the Residence Act?

According to the law, you do not have a right to live in a certain city or place (Section 24 (5) of the Residence Act). With the issuance of the residence permit according to Section 24, the foreigners authority issues a so-called residence requirement, this means that the place where you have to live in Germany is decided for you. However, the German Ministry of the Interior points out the possibility of having the residence requirement lifted by the foreigners authority in certain cases.

This is supposed to be the case (analogous to section 12a (1) of the Residence Act) if you, your spouse, your registered partner or a minor unmarried child with whom you are related and live in a family community,

  • take up or have taken up employment subject to social insurance contributions of at least 15 hours per week and thus earns/ earn at least 785 euros net per month or such a job is available,
  • is/ are starting vocational training or a training place is available,
  • is/are studying or is/are in a training relationship or a training or study place is available.

These include:

  • vocational orientation measures,
  • vocational preparation measures that serve the transition to an apprenticeship,
  • measures for the recognition of foreign professional credentials,
  • language courses to prepare for university studies and
  • attendance at the Studienkolleg (preparatory college).

The residence requirement is also to be lifted if a case of hardship exists. According to the German Ministry of the Interior, a case of hardship exists in particular, if

  • according to the assessment of the responsible youth welfare office, services and measures of child and youth welfare according to the Eighth Book of the Social Code with a local connection would be impaired (for example, if a kindergarten is attended) or
  • for other urgent personal reasons, the child has been promised to be taken over by another country or another member state, or
  • for whom you would be subject to comparable unreasonable restrictions for other reasons (analogous to section 12a (5) of the Residence Act).

The personal interest weighs more heavily, for example, the longer someone has already lived in the new place. Thus, it can be an unreasonable restriction if one has to give up an existing apartment and return to a city where no apartment is available.

It is best to seek local advice from a counselling centre (see “Where can I get personal advice in individual cases?”). For more information on the residence requirement, see the document of GGUA.

Can I work with this humanitarian residence title according to section 24 of the Residence Act?

Yes, the foreigners authority must permit employment as an employee when issuing the residence title. Your residence title must state: “Gainful employment permitted”(„Erwerbstätigkeit erlaubt“). If this is not the case, you should visit a local counselling centre (see “Where can I get personal advice in individual cases?”) and seek advice.

The approval of the Federal Employment Agency to permit employment is not required (Section 4a (2) of the Residence Act in conjunction with section 31 of the Ordinance of the Employment of Foreigners).

You can also work independently with the residence permit and set up a company in Germany. The residence permit must state: “Self-employment permitted”. You can find more information – also in Ukrainian and Russian –   (IQ Fachstelle Migrantenökonomie).

When can I start working with the residence permit?

In general, you need the electronic residence title that is given to you by the foreigners’ authority. However, the production of this residence title by the Federal Printing Office can take several weeks, especially if, as is currently the case, many people apply for a residence title at the same time. For the time until your electronic residence title is printed, you will receive a provisional residence document (“Fiktionsbescheinigung”) from the foreigners’ Registration Office (Section 81 (3) sentence 1 in conjunction with (5) of the Residence Act). You do not have to pay any fees for this certificate at the foreigners’ authority. The foreigners’ authority must also include the addition: “Gainful employment permitted” („Erwerbstätigkeit erlaubt“) in the provisional residence document. This means that you are already allowed to take up a job or become self-employed with this document.

If this is not the case, you should ask the Foreigners Registration Office or visit a local counseling center (see “Where can I get personal advice in individual cases?”) for advice.

What do I have to pay attention to when I work in Germany?

German labour law applies to you. In case of difficulties or to check your employment contract, you can contact the “Fair Integration” advice centres of the local IQ network. On their website, you will find information on topics such as employment contracts, termination, sick leave, accidents at work, minimum wage and wages, in several languages.

Can I study, do training or go to school with the humanitarian residence title (Section 24 of the Residence Act)?

Yes, this is possible.

However, you cannot apply for special financial support under the Vocational Training Assistance Act (BAfÖG) for this. If you are undergoing vocational training, however, you are entitled to financial support, so-called “Vocational Training Grants” (“Berufsausbildungsbeihilfe, BAB”). You can also receive financial support from the Federal Employment Agency for a vocational preparation training measure or assisted vocational training. The prerequisite is that you register and apply at your local employment agency.

You can find out about the opportunities you have in Germany to complete an apprenticeship/ vocational training or qualification at your local employment agency or online.

Can I take an integration course?

The integration course consists of a language course, in which the language level B1 can be achieved, and an orientation course, in which information about life in Germany is offered (history, culture and legal system). It initially comprises 700 teaching units.

You can apply for admission to an integration course at the competent regional office of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. The locally competent foreigners authority can also oblige you to attend the integration course.

The German Ministry of the Interior has emphasized that refugees from Ukraine should have access to the integration courses.

Can I apply for social benefits with the humanitarian residence title (Section 24 of the Residence Act)? Do I get health insurance?

Holders of the humanitarian residence title according to Section 24 of the Residence Act can receive social benefits according to the Asylum Seekers’ Benefits Act (“Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz”). These must be applied for at the locally responsible social welfare office.

The benefits also include health care for acute illnesses and pain. It is currently unclear how health care will be structured for persons with a residence title under Section 24 of the Residence Act. A tabular overview of the social legal framework for people with a residence title according to Section 24 of the Residence Act can be found in the GGUA work aid. 

Can I switch from the humanitarian residence title according to section 24 of the Residence Act to another residence title?

Yes, it is possible to apply for another residence title at any time if you meet the requirements. It is also possible to hold two residence titles at the same time, for example a residence title according to Section 24 of the Residence Act and a residence title due to employment as a university graduate according to section 18b of the Residence Act. 

Am I obliged to apply for the humanitarian residence title according to section 24 of the Residence Act? What other possibilities are there?

No one is obliged to apply for the humanitarian residence title. Refugees from Ukraine can also apply for asylum or another residence title in Germany if they meet the requirements.

For this purpose, please visit a local counselling centre (see “Where can I get personal advice in individual cases?”) and seek advice.

Can I travel to another member state of the European Union if I have the humanitarian residence title according to section 24 of the Residence Act?

Yes, with a residence title according to section 24 of the Residence Act you are entitled to travel to other countries of the European Union and the Schengen countries for 90 days within 180 days.

 

 

 

Can I apply for the humanitarian residence permit in another member state of the European Union?

If you already have the humanitarian residence title according to section 24 of the Residence Act in Germany, you cannot apply for another humanitarian residence title for refugees from Ukraine in another state of the European Union.

You can apply to the locally competent foreigners’ authority if you want to transfer your residence to another member state of the European Union (Section 42 of the Ordinance on Residence). This application will then be forwarded by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees to the other state of the European Union, which must declare its consent. After the other state has given its consent, the Foreigners’ Registration Office will inform you of the date of departure and further details (Section 43 of the Ordinance on Residence).

Can I travel back to Ukraine? Can I lose the humanitarian residence title according to Section 24 of the Residence Act?

A new residence title should always be applied for before the old one expires. If it can be proven that the application for renewal was submitted to the foreigners’ authority in good time before expiry, then the old residence title continues being valid until a decision has been made on the application (Section 81 (4) of the Residence Act). For many foreigners’ authorities, it is sufficient to make an appointment in good time before the expiry of the residence title. This is then indicated on the appointment confirmation. 

If you are not in Germany for a longer period, you can also lose your residence title again. What is important here is the reason for the departure and the period.  

Trips for a vacation, treatment in a hospital or a visit to relatives and friends are not problematic. However, you should re-enter Germany after six months at the latest. The purpose and duration of the trip should be verifiable with tickets and receipts in case of an inspection. 

If the stay abroad is expected to last longer than six months, an application for an extension of the six-month period can be submitted to the Foreigners’ Registration Office. Before doing so, a counselling centre should be contacted. 

Men who fulfil their compulsory military service in Ukraine do not lose their residence title as long as they re-enter Germany three months after being released from their compulsory military service (Section 51 (3) of the Residence Act). However, the residence title may still expire. 

 Leaving the country for vocational training, studies, work, voluntary military service, humanitarian aid or permanent care of relatives can be problematic. This may be considered leaving the country for a permanent reason, which could cause the residence permit to expire before the six-month period expires. Therefore, contact a counselling centre before planning to leave the country for this purpose.

Asylum, status as a recognised refugee and asylum procedure

Can I apply for asylum in Germany? and what are the consequences of an (asylum) application?

Every person who comes to Germany has the right to apply for asylum. There are special contact points for this in the respective federal states. It is always possible to file an asylum application with the police.

Filing an asylum application in Germany has initially these consequences for you:

  • Asylum applicants are obliged to live in an initial reception centre (Section 47 of the Asylum Act). This means that you may be obliged to move to another city in Germany. You cannot choose which initial reception centre and which city you will live in. You cannot live with relatives, friends or in private accommodation.
  • According to the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act, you receive social benefits, i. e. food, accommodation, heating, clothing, health care, household items as well as other personal needs and free medical care for acute illnesses and pain.
  • As a rule,you cannot apply for another residence title during the procedure, for example due to employment as a skilled worker (Section 10 (1) of the Residence Act). Exceptions exist only in the case of so-called strict legal claims to a residence title (in particular most residence titles for family reasons) and if there is an important interest of the German state in this. However, it is possible to apply for the humanitarian residence title according to section 24 of the Residence Act for refugees from Ukraine even during the asylum procedure. For the duration of the humanitarian residence title no decision would then be made on the asylum application.
  • You cannot work during the first three months of stay. After that, employment can be granted by the foreigners authority (Section 4a (4) of the Residence Act in conjunction with Section 32 of the Ordinance on the Employment of Foreigners).
  • The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) will retain your passport until the end of the asylum procedure.

If I apply for asylum in Germany, can Germany later ask me to return to the state (e.g., Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia) where I first entered or where I was registered?

According to the Dublin III Regulation, the German state can declare itself not responsible for conducting the asylum procedure and refer to the responsibility of the state in which you first entered and were registered (so-called Dublin procedure). According to information from the German Ministry of the Interior, Germany will currently not make use of this right for persons who can apply for and receive a humanitarian residence title under Section 24 of the Residence Act.

Germany is not entitled to declare itself not responsible if the persons are entitled to visa-free entry and are applying for asylum in Germany for the first time (Article 14 (2) of the Dublin III Regulation). However, the situation is different for persons who are not entitled to visa-free entry to Germany and for persons who are entitled to visa-free entry but have already applied for asylum in another state of the European Union.

Should I apply for asylum or the humanitarian residence title according to Section 24 of the Residence Act? How do the two options relate to each other?

This question cannot be answered in a general way. Third-country nationals who do not have Ukrainian citizenship should visit a local migration advice centre or a lawyer specialising in asylum law before registering and seek advice. This applies in particular if you want to stay in Germany in the long term. It depends centrally on the individual situation of the person which procedure makes sense in the respective case.

An asylum application does not block the possibility of applying for a residence title according to section 24 of the Residence Act.

Anyone who has already applied for asylum in Germany and falls under the groups of people mentioned in question “Will I receive a humanitarian residence title in Germany due to the war?” can still apply for the residence title according to section 24 of the Residence Act.

For further differences, prerequisites, and consequences, please consider the table below as an overview:

Other residence permits

Can I apply for a residence permit in Germany for another reason?

Yes, Ukrainian nationals and other third-country nationals who have fled from Ukraine to Germany can apply for such a residence permit directly in Germany at the locally competent foreigners’ authority. This results from the regulation of the German Ministry of the Interior, which is valid from 9 March 2022. 

This is especially an option for persons who are allowed to stay in Germany until 23 May 2022 but cannot apply for a humanitarian residence title according to section 24 of the Residence Act. They can at least apply for another residence title according to the Residence Act in the period until 23 May 2022 and thus change to another longer-term residence if they fulfil the requirements. 

What other residence titles can I apply for in Germany?

In Germany, you can apply for many other residence titles in addition to the humanitarian residence title under section 24 of the Residence Act. You will be granted these residence titles for a specific purpose if you meet the requirements. The requirements for a visa for entry from abroad and a residence permit applied for in Germany at the Foreigners’ authority are the same. With other residence titles, you may be able to secure your long-term stay in Germany.

However, you can already work, study, do an apprenticeship and participate in qualification measures with the residence title according to section 24 of the Residence Act. With the other residence titles, you can only additionally secure your long-term stay in Germany. This may only be relevant for you in a few years if you want to stay in Germany for a long time.

Here is a selection of residence titles for specific purposes that you can apply for in addition if you meet the requirements:

·         Language course

·         Voluntary service

·         Vocational training

·         Study

·         Qualification measures for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications

·         Employment as a specialist with a recognized or equivalent professional qualification

·         Employment as a skilled worker with an academic degree / Blue Card-EU

·         Employment independent of the qualification as a skilled worker, if there is a special regulation for the occupational group

·         Spouse or minor child of German nationals or other nationals with a long-term residence title in Germany.

 

Information on residence titles and in general on the requirements for taking up studies, training or work in Germany can be found on the Federal Government’s information portal “Make it in Germany”. Seek advice from a local counselling centre (see “Where can I get personal advice on a case-by-case basis?“) on whether applying for another residence permit makes sense in your case.

I am of Jewish descent and a Ukrainian citizen or a citizen of another successor state of the former Soviet Union. Can I get a residence status in Germany as a Jewish immigrant?

This group of people can obtain a residence title in accordance with section 23 (2) of the Residence Act after going through an admission procedure.

You can obtain information from the competent Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. There you will find information sheets on the admission procedure in German, English and Russian.

The latest information is also available on the website of the German Embassy in Kiev. If you already have a notification of admission, you can go directly to the locally competent foreigners authority in Germany and apply for a residence title. If you have already received a notification of admission or have applied, please contact the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. It will soon also be possible to apply in Germany.

I am a late repatriate (Spätaussiedler) and part of a German minority in Ukraine. Can I get a residence status in Germany?

This group of persons can directly apply for German citizenship after passing the admission procedure according to the Federal Expellees Act (Bundesvertriebenengesetz).

You can obtain information from the competent Federal Office of Administration, which has prepared a leaflet and set up a hotline (+49 (0) 2899358-20255).

If you are already in Germany, you can apply for a so-called “Härtefallverfahren” (procedure in case of hardship) at the branch office of the Federal Office of Administration in Friedland.

If you do not yet meet the requirements, according to information from the Federal Commissioner for Matters Related to Ethnic German Resettlers and National Minorities, you can also first apply for the humanitarian residence title (Section 24 of the Residence Act), and then carry out the admission procedure for late repatriates later.

Profession, qualifications and employment

Can I work in Germany in my trained profession/with my qualifications?

In principle, it is possible to work in Germany in your trained profession. However, some professions are regulated in Germany, which means that your foreign credentials must first be officially recognised before you are allowed to practise your profession here. You can find out whether you have to go through a so-called recognition procedure, which documents you need and which (also other) options are open to you, for example, in German, English and Russian on the website of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research Recognition in Germany. Information in Ukrainian is available here.

You can also obtain advice and support free of charge from a counselling centre of the Integration through Qualification funding programme. On the website, you will find information on professional recognition for the respective professions in German, English and Russian, for example for pharmacists, engineers, nurses and many more.

More Information

Where can I find more information from the relevant actors?

The Information Network Asylum & Migration has compiled further information and sources compiled by international organisations, the European Union, German ministries, the individual federal states and civil society organisations.

Official information is available on the information portal of the German Ministry of the Interior: Germany4Ukraine.

Where can I get personal advice on a case-by-case basis?

Our Specialist Office on Immigration does not offer advice in individual cases. Therefore, if you have further questions, please contact the counseling centers in your region.

All counselling services are free of charge. Many counseling centers offer counseling in English, some also in Russian or Ukrainian. It is best to call or email the counseling center in advance to make an appointment. Due to the Corona pandemic, some counseling centers currently offer counseling by appointment only.    

Contact:

IQ Fachstelle Einwanderung
fe@minor-kontor.de

Note:

This document contains an overview of legal regulations; it is not intended to and cannot replace legal advice and does not have any binding effect. Despite the care taken in compiling the information, errors, inaccuracies or outdated information cannot be ruled out. The presentation reflects exclusively the legal opinion of the authors.  

For counselling in individual cases, it is best to contact a local counselling centre (see Where can I get personal advice on a case-by-case basis?”).  

The German version is always the most current one. Whether the translations correspond exactly can be seen from the date under the heading. We try to take new regulations into account as up-to-date as possible. However, the translations often cannot be updated on the same day.   

The Competence Centre on Immigration (Fachstelle Einwanderung) is funded by the “Integration through Qualification (IQ)” programme.