Imagine you lived in a foreign country. You don’t know anybody, can’t speak the language and find it hard to get your bearings on a day-to-day basis. How would you like the local people to behave? Helpfulness and hospitality would certainly make things easier for you to begin with. A smile or returning a greeting is often enough here. You should assume that refugees are feeling just as unsure as many local people.
Mutual respect is important for a peaceful coexistence between locals and refugees. Yet questions are constantly being asked on both sides: how do I behave correctly? How can integration go smoothly? What can I do? Similar questions often occupy the minds of both locals and refugees. Here you will find guidance.
Our medals give you quick answers to the most important questions. Simply click on a question that is relevant to you personally.
How do I behave correctly towards refugees?
How do I behave correctly towards local people?
Imagine that a very large number of foreign people came to your homeland within a short space of time. How would you like them to behave? You can often learn the right way to behave in Bavaria by observing the locals: how do people greet one another politely? How do people behave when shopping? Or in a doctor’s surgery? It is very important to learn the language quickly. Try to interact with the locals in your free time – at sports clubs, for instance.
Do I need to fear other religions, such as Islam?
No, you don’t. Just like all other religions, Islam offers starting points for intolerance and fighting against other basic philosophies. The majority of the approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world peacefully practice their faith. There are particular reasons why some people become radicalised. In many cases, religion serves solely as a front for a person’s actions. Extremist and radical groups exist in all world religions, but this doesn’t mean that religion itself is the problem, but what some people do in the name of religion.
Am I free to practise my religion?
Yes, you are. Religion is a private matter in Germany. Everyone is free to choose their faith and whether or not they are religious. Every individual is free to practise their faith, but not put it above that of another person or the law.
Why is integration important for everybody?
Integration means sharing and participating fully in all aspects of life in the host society. It helps to prevent intercultural conflict as well as social and ethnic fragmentation in our society. Yet it can only succeed if migrants make an effort to integrate and the host society simultaneously recognises this effort and approaches people openly. Furthermore, structural integration helps people from migrant backgrounds into employment, which means that they pay taxes and support our social security system. Integration into the working world is the best form of integration into Bavarian life. It is both important and necessary. Successful integration especially requires people to stand on their own two feet economically. Accordingly, all refugees and recognised asylum seekers of working age should earn their own living as quickly as possible. Successful integration is essential for maintaining a peaceful society today and for future generations.
How can I integrate?
Bavaria is the state of successful integration. Across Bavaria, one in five people comes from a migrant background. Migrants have successfully managed to integrate into our society in the past. To ensure that this remains the case, Bavaria has placed a limit on immigration in order to maintain the efficiency of both state and society. In addition, the Bavarian state government is committed to the principle of ‘support and challenge’ and has established clear rules for getting on well with one another. By introducing a number of supportive measures in the areas of language learning, teaching of values, integration through training and employment, and homebuilding, Bavaria is playing its part in ensuring that people integrate successfully.
A common language is the key to good integration. You must learn German, as well as the country’s laws and values and the rules of coexistence. You are obliged to attend the relevant courses. Try to secure a training place or job. In addition to learning the language, integration into the labour market establishes the foundation for a peaceful life of self-determination. Employment provides the basis for you to integrate successfully into society. However, integration also involves a number of other important factors. Continue to study, be curious and open-minded towards the culture and country where you live. Just like all other citizens, you have rights and obligations. You must meet these obligations and play an active role in your integration.
Do all refugees have to learn German?
Immigrants with a residence permit who do not speak sufficient German are obliged to enrol on an integration course. At 600 hours, the biggest part of the integration course consists of German lessons. The orientation course lasts 100 hours and teaches people the laws and rules of coexistence in Germany.
How and where can I learn German?
Every person from a migrant background who comes to Germany should basically seize every opportunity to learn German. Knowledge of the German language is the key to a successful life in Germany. Immigrants with a residence permit who do not speak sufficient German and are not attending a school or vocational college have the right and obligation to enrol on an integration course. The course generally consists of 600 hours of German lessons and 100 hours of orientation. To enrol on an integration course in your area, you must submit an application to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).
The Bavarian State Ministry for Employment, Social Affairs, Family and Integration also funds and supports numerous language courses for asylum seekers.
Questions locals often ask themselves
Many local people have questions about the subject of immigration. Where do most refugees come from? How much money do they receive? And: how can I help? You will find answers to the most important questions here.
All people who flee from their homeland are referred to colloquially as refugees. However, this is not the correct legal term.
Asylum seekers, asylum applicants and those entitled to asylum: according to Article 16a of the German Basic Law, persons persecuted on political grounds have the right of asylum. This means: if a person enters Germany seeking asylum, they are called an asylum seeker. As soon as they have submitted an application for asylum at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), they become an asylum applicant. If the person can prove that they were persecuted on political grounds by the state in their homeland then they are granted asylum. The person is then entitled to asylum.
Refugees: only those people persecuted on political grounds have the right of asylum. People who, although not persecuted by the state, are still in danger in their homeland because of their race, religion or membership of a certain social group can be recognised as refugees.
Subsidiary protection: subsidiary in this sense means provisional. Provisional protection can be granted to people who are not recognised as refugees and are not granted asylum. However, they are not deported if they face torture, the death penalty or great danger due to armed conflict in their homeland. The affected person is granted a residence permit and permitted to remain temporarily in Germany.
- Click here for further information on entitlement to asylum, refugee protection and subsidiary protection: link to the lexicon of refugeeism & asylum
- You can also find facts and background information on the subject of refugeeism & asylum here: link to the Federal Government website
According to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), all of the refugees that arrived in Germany in 2015 have now been registered. Information on the identity of the refugees has been recorded and checked using fingerprints, photos and personal data. Since early 2016, all refugees have been registered in the Central Register of Foreigners when they first come into contact with the authorities. They are then allocated to an initial reception centre using the EASY system.
Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq were the main countries of origin. Around 68 per cent of refugees (489,378 people) came from these countries in 2016:
- Syria: 266,250 (36.9 per cent)
- Afghanistan: 127,012 (17.6 per cent)
- Iraq: 96,116 (13.3 per cent)
People who come from countries with a protection quota of more than 50 per cent have good prospects of remaining in Germany. In 2016, this was the case for the countries Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Somalia. Syria had a protection quota, for example, of 98.0 per cent in 2016, with a total of 295,040 decisions, while Eritrea had a quota of 92.2 per cent with a total of 22,160 decisions (source: Federal Office for Migration and Refugees: asylum statistics, December 2016. Page 2) The BAMF determines which countries of origin fulfil the protection quota criteria (>/= 50 per cent) every six months.
The right to asylum is a basic right (Article 16a of the German Basic Law). The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany states: “Persons persecuted on political grounds shall have the right of asylum”.
Although they are not being persecuted on political grounds, people granted refugee protection or subsidiary (subordinate) protection face the threat of violence, torture or death in their homelands. People recognised as refugees or as being entitled to asylum receive a residence permit for three years. If they have integrated well and have the ability to make a secure living themselves then they can receive a settlement permit at the earliest after three years. People granted subsidiary protection or who have had a ban on deportation issued will initially receive a residence permit for one year, which can then be extended for a further two years in each case. These people can only receive a settlement permit at the earliest after five years.
Homeless foreign nationals, those entitled to asylum, refugees and quota refugees are broadly handled the same as German citizens when it comes to welfare benefits. In particular, this applies to unemployment, social insurance and training grants, as well as the granting of social welfare. If in need of welfare assistance, foreign nationals with approved residence status receive benefits in accordance with Articles 7 and 8 of the Social Security Code II (Sozialgesetzbuch II) or Article 23 of Social Security Code XII (Sozialgesetzbuch XII). Asylum applicants receive welfare benefits in accordance with the Asylum-Seekers’ Benefits Act (AsylbLG).
No. The local population are not disadvantaged in any way. German people in need of welfare assistance receive more money than asylum applicants. Single people receiving Hartz IV receive 404 euros per month, while single asylum applicants can only receive a maximum of 354 euros according to the Asylum-Seekers’ Benefits Act. The government has done a lot for people with low earnings in the last few years. The statutory minimum wage has come into force and pensions were increased by 5 per cent in July 2016. This was the largest increase in pension payments for 20 years.
Asylum applicants are generally permitted to work three months after arriving in Germany. Permission from the Foreigners’ Office and the approval of the Federal Employment Agency is required. The wage is taken into account when calculating state benefits. However, the refugee is permitted to keep a certain amount of their earnings before they are taken into account in the calculations (similar to benefits paid in accordance with Social Security Code II or XII). People recognised as being entitled to asylum and refugees receive an unrestricted work permit and can also engage in a self-employed activity.
The most important principle of the Bavarian integration policy is “support and challenge”. The state and society support refugees with, for example, German, legal and ethics courses, education and training, etc. This support is designed to help people help themselves so that the refugees can live independently and support themselves as quickly as possible and make their own contribution to society.
The largest charitable associations – including the AWO, Caritas and Diakonische Werk – support and provide advice to refugees and asylum seekers across Germany. If you would also like to volunteer, please contact one of the local charitable associations near to you. City and municipal administrations or church parishes also often organise voluntary groups. In addition, there are groups of volunteers and private initiatives in almost every town.
Crime statistics show that the majority of asylum seekers do not commit any crimes. Crimes are prosecuted by the German authorities irrespective of where the perpetrator comes from. If a refugee is found guilty of a crime and handed a prison sentence then they must leave the country. This also applies if the refugee is handed a suspended sentence. This rule applies to crimes against life, physical safety, sexual self-determination or attacks on the police. Serial cases of theft or robbery can also lead to deportation. If those who have committed a crime cannot be deported for serious reasons, the penalty must be served in Germany. However, the offender can also be deported after their period of imprisonment if there is a risk to the general population.
You can find more information on the subject of crime rates here:
If an asylum application is rejected and there is no right to residence for other reasons (e.g. subsidiary protection or suspension of deportation), the applicant is requested in writing to leave the country. The person affected must leave Germany within a certain period of time. If the affected person does not voluntarily leave Germany, he or she will be deported. Deportation means that the foreign national can also be removed from the country where necessary using coercive means (by the police). The Foreigners’ Offices in the federal states are the responsible bodies in these cases. There may be an obstacle to deportation if, for example, the affected person is ill or the destination airport is closed. The Foreigners’ Office will examine the circumstances. If there are no such obstacles, deportation will be carried out.
- You can find information on terms such as “subsidiary protection”, “suspension of deportation” and “deportation” here: link to the lexicon of refugeeism & asylum
- The glossary provided by the BAMF gives detailed explanations of the terms: link to the BAMF website