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Federal state admission programmes

Federal state admission programmes are humanitarian admission programmes that can be introduced on the federal state level according to section 23 (1) Residence Act (AufenthG). 


This means, that a federal state can issue a residence permit to certain foreigners under international law or for humanitarian reasons, or to protect Germany's political interests. However, the establishment of such a programme is only possible with the consent of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI). 


Federal state admission programmes therefore represent another safe access pathway for refugees in need of protection.


Context of the federal state admission programmes 

The Federal Ministry of the Interior gave its approval for state admission programmes in 2013 in the context of the civil war in Syria. This decision was based on a recommendation by UNHCR to receive Syrian refugees through other programmes in addition to resettlement.


How do federal state admission programmes work?

The programmes are managed differently in the individual federal states. As with the federal admission programmes, the corresponding criteria are specified in respective regulations (Anordnungen).  In general, however, the federal state admission programmes can be divided into two different categories: federal state admission programmes with a declaration of commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) and those without.

  • Federal state admission programmes with a declaration of commitment: for admission, a person with a sufficiently high income must be found in Germany who guarantees that no costs will arise for the state in the first five years after entry. This means that the person must provide for their own accommodation and living expenses or cover them through family or civil society support. In many cases, however, health insurance is covered by the federal state. 

  • Federal state admission programmes without a declaration of commitment: are also known as resettlement-like procedures and are very rare in practice. The process runs via UNHCR and is exactly the same as for resettlement. The only difference are the benefits received after arrival, as the people cannot receive benefits through the jobcentre but are financed through the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act. Schleswig-Holstein had such a programme in the past, currently none of the federal states has one in place.

What state admission programmes exist? 

In the past, all federal states except for Bavaria have had their own federal state admission programmes. In the meantime, however, most federal states have suspended their programmes. 


Currently, there are still federal state admission programmes for family members of Syrian nationals (and in the case of Berlin also Iraqi nationals) in 

  • Berlin

  • Brandenburg (not to be extended in 2024)

  • Bremen

  • Hamburg

  • Schleswig-Holstein

  • Thuringia. 

Schleswig-Holstein also has a state reception programme for people in need of protection who have no family ties to Germany.


There are federal state admission programmes for refugees from Afghanistan in 

  • Berlin

  • Hessen

  • Thuringia.

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