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People from 170 different nations live peacefully with one another in Bavaria. This is how it should stay. That is why integration in Bavaria is so important. In this regard, Bavaria is committed to the ‘support and challenge’ principle. Yet what exactly does that mean? Why is it so important, for example, for refugees to learn German and respect Bavaria’s dominant culture? How can Bavarian citizens help to make integration a success?

Bavaria is diverse

Bavaria is diverse! One in five people in the Free State already has an immigrant history. That equates to around 2.72 million people. Integration is a success here. You can see it, for example, in the fact that Bavaria has the highest employment rate and lowest risk of poverty among people from migrant backgrounds in Germany. Or in the fact that many young people from a migrant background in Bavaria get good qualifications by enrolling on vocational training courses, for instance. People from migrant backgrounds can and should contribute to our community in Bavaria and feel as if they belong here.

Today’s young refugees can be the skilled workers of tomorrow. That is why we support them with various measures, including German language lessons, courses on German values and laws, and training courses to prepare them for the Bavarian labour market. We ask that they accept and abide by our values and social rules.

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Lesson situation: a young man and a young woman sitting at computers. A teacher is standing behind them explaining something.
By offering various courses, such as language courses, Bavaria is supporting asylum seekers and helping them to access the labour market.
Close-up shot: a man performs a written task.
It is important for recognised asylum seekers and refugees to learn the German language. This will give them better training and work opportunities and help them to interact well socially.

Why good integration is important

Successful integration is needed to ensure that the unemployment rate remains low, prosperity is maintained and our society holds together. All of these things are also necessary to ensure that the native population remains open to integration.

Integration is everybody’s business

Bavaria took in around 160,000 asylum seekers in 2015. Some of them will remain here permanently. Everyone must work together to make their integration a success. This begins during the asylum procedure itself. The federal government carries out the asylum procedure, while the Free State of Bavaria is responsible for housing and looking after the asylum seekers and covers the costs if the local authorities are involved. It voluntarily subsidises the asylum seekers’ social counselling and migration advisory services provided by the welfare organisations. Many volunteers help to look after the refugees and offer them assistance to find jobs and homes.

In return, we expect the following from recognised asylum seekers and refugees:

  • They must learn German. Newcomers can only integrate into society and be successful at school, in training and at work if they speak our language. And interaction in all areas of life will only be possible with a common language.
  • They must respect our dominant culture and especially the statutory rules and values prescribed by our basic laws and the Bavarian constitution for the coexistence of all people in Germany and Bavaria.
  • They must play their part in making a success of living together in our country, show initiative and take personal responsibility.

Key to the integration of refugees and asylum seekers with a good chance of remaining in the country is contact with the native population. People who are new to a foreign country can easily learn many different rules and the right ways of interacting with others by talking to the people who live here and using their social environment as a guide.

Integration as an economic factor

Successful integration is essential for ensuring the following:

  • People become skilled workers through training
  • The impending skills shortage is remedied
  • The unemployment rate in Bavaria remains low
  • Refugees are gainfully employed and contributing to the social security system
  • Gainfully employed refugees support the economy with their purchasing power and contribute to the general prosperity of Bavaria and the country as a whole

What ‘support and challenge’ means

The ‘support and challenge’ principle applies to everyone in Germany and Bavaria – whether natives or foreigners. Every citizen has rights and obligations. Behind everything is the idea of linking the principle of give and take and the priority of personal responsibility over state support with the aim of achieving the greatest possible prosperity and justice for everybody.

‘Support and challenge’ is the main principle of Bavaria’s integration policy. It means:

giving refugees and asylum seekers support when necessary and in return demanding that they show initiative and take personal responsibility in addition to recognising our laws and system of values.

We support the integration of recognised refugees or asylum seekers with a good chance of remaining in the country by offering them support to help them settle into life in Bavaria, learn the German language, find a job or training place and, once their refugee or asylum status has been granted, find a home and participate in society.

Bavaria demands integration: everyone must observe the law and respect our free and democratic constitution and our values. Bavarian society works according to certain rules. Newcomers must adhere to them in the same way as those who have always lived in Bavaria or have done so for generations. People who are new to Bavaria must also try to learn German.

No egalitarianism – but binding rules for everyone

Our values and laws in Germany and Bavaria are not up for discussion. They are based on the lessons learned from our history and are the achievements of our free and democratic society. The German constitution is the foundation of our peaceful coexistence.

A judge’s gavel lies on a book.
Everyone must abide by the law. Everyone has rights and obligations. This is important for peaceful coexistence.

The Bavarian Integration Act

The Bavarian Integration Act (BayIntG) came into force on 1 January 2017. We introduced it to give both direction and an aim to integration. The BayIntG embraces the ‘support and challenge’ principle and provides clear rules for getting on well with one another. People who come to Bavaria must accept and support all binding requirements of the laws and system of values that are applicable here and take them as the standard that now applies to them. Immigrants who are entitled to stay in Bavaria permanently should understand and learn to appreciate the German language and our dominant culture and in return experience acceptance and tolerance.

The most important aspects of integration for migrants of all ages relate to understanding our values, learning the German language and seizing opportunities to learn and work.

The Bavarian Integration Act views integration as a duty of society as a whole. Everyone must play their part, including governmental and non-governmental institutions. The act highlights the important role of the local authorities in Bavaria, for example, and names the Bavarian Industry Association as a key partner.

Yet with the Bavarian Integration Act we are also making it clear that those who are not prepared to integrate must face sanctions. We have introduced the BayIntG to create obligations and we expressly require everyone who lives here to respect our laws and system of values.

Supporting cohesion, encouraging integration

On 9 October 2015, the Bavarian State Government passed a resolution to introduce a special programme entitled ‘Supporting cohesion, encouraging integration’ over a number of years. Bavaria spends several million euros every year on integrating refugees and those entitled to asylum – on nurseries, schools, advisory centres and orientation courses, among other things, thereby providing the best possible support to help immigrants to integrate.

Homes for all Bavarian citizens

As part of Bavaria’s ‘Home Pact’ (Wohnungspakt Bayern), the Free State of Bavaria supports affordable housing for all sections of the population. Up to 28,000 new state-financed or funded rental homes are set to be built as part of the Home Pact by 2019. Here Bavaria is committed to a state-backed immediate action programme, a local authority funding programme and measures aimed at extending state funding of housing. The native population will benefit just as much as the refugees. Around 2.6 billion euros have been made available for this purpose until 2019.

Fit for the Bavarian labour market

Integrating into the labour market is both important and necessary. We want people to be able to finance their own lives. The Bavarian State Government has therefore signed the ‘Integration through Education and Work’ agreement with the Bavarian Industry Association and the employment administration authorities. The aim is to offer 20,000 refugees a work placement, apprenticeship or job by the end of 2016. By the autumn of 2016 the first part of this aim was not only achieved, but a suitable position was found for twice as many people. Almost 40,000 refugees were found a work placement, apprenticeship or job. By the end of 2019, 60,000 people are set to be integrated into the workplace.

In Bavaria there are also a number of other educational opportunities in a wide range of establishments. People who are unable to read or write, or are unable to do so sufficiently, should enrol on a literacy course. Young adults can learn in remedial classes at vocational colleges. For immigrants who already have professional training there is a range of further education courses that will help to make them fit for the Bavarian labour market. Seize your opportunity and improve your qualifications. You can only benefit!

Find out more about the Integration Act.

The Bavarian Integration Act came into force on 1 January 2017. It was announced on 13 December 2016 in the Law and Ordinance Gazette (GVBl. p. 335, BayRS 26-6-A).

Tolerance and humanity

Showing kindness and compassion to people who have come to Bavaria to seek protection from war and persecution is an act of morality and humanity. Tolerance is a fundamental requirement for peaceful coexistence based on freedom and self-determination. Bavaria is both a humane and tolerant state that is aware of its traditions. We are proud of this.

The Bavarian way

The success formula for the Bavarian way has and will always be a love of our homeland and a cosmopolitan outlook. We are tolerant – but we also expect immigrants who wish to live in Bavaria to identify with the basic rules of our free society and live according to these rules. People who are not prepared to do this cannot expect any tolerance from us in return.

A woman and a young man from a migrant background are looking at a tablet. Both are laughing.
Many people in Germany and Bavaria offer their help voluntarily. This commitment is very important, which is why we say thank you!

Voluntary work is indispensable

People in Germany and Bavaria are helpful and show solidarity with their fellow human beings. This is demonstrated in impressive style by thousands of charitable associations and organisations, the close-knit network of welfare institutions run by church-based and private agencies and the countless charitable initiatives and projects set up by foundations and private individuals.

Voluntary work is and will always be indispensable and it plays a major role in our society. The importance of the German and Bavarian voluntary helpers was underlined in autumn 2015 when hundreds of thousands of people seeking asylum crossed the border into Germany and Bavaria within a short space of time.

The commitment of voluntary helpers is an important and indispensable source of support for our society. The voluntary work is particularly characterised by the ability to provide fast help where fast help is needed. Compassion, humanity, community spirit and tolerance are the supporting pillars. We wish to thank all the volunteers for their fantastic work in Bavaria!

Helping people to help themselves

Countless charitable associations and initiatives in the area of asylum and refugee support have been set up or expanded since autumn 2015 and new programmes and mentoring schemes have been launched. Many Bavarian communities have formed support networks that help refugees and asylum seekers to help themselves.

Thousands of people are involved in the support networks, quite a few of whom also come from a migrant background themselves. They accompany refugees to appointments with doctors and the authorities, explain the little and big things of everyday life, help them to find homes, work placements, training places and jobs, and organise sports and leisure activities. The list goes on.