Germany’s Integration Act is set to be passed into law. It is intended to make it easier for refugees to integrate into society. It provides for more integration courses, employment and training opportunities. At the same time, it sets out the obligations those seeking asylum in Germany are under.
The guiding principle on which the new legislation is based is that of “support and challenge”. The Bundestag had already adopted the law, now the Bundesrat has followed suit. Refugees who have good prospects of being allowed to stay permanently will be eligible to take integration courses and to take advantage of job and training opportunities sooner than before. But they will also be required to work on their own integration. Those asylum seekers who refuse to take an integration course or who do not meet their duties to cooperate will have their benefits curtailed.
- Refugees whose deportation has been suspended will have the right to remain while they are undergoing vocational training and after they are taken on. This gives legal certainty to refugees and their training enterprises.
- More integration courses will be on offer so that refugees can start learning German quickly.
- Integration is difficult if too many refugees move to urban centres. That is why the federal states can assign them a place of residence during the first three years they are here.
- Refugees are to engage in meaningful employment while their claim for asylum is being processed, for example serving meals or tending to green spaces in their refugee shelter. On 1 August the Federal Government will be launching its new “Refugee Integration Measures” programme for 100,000 asylum seekers.
- The Federal Employment Agency will also suspend its labour market priority check for a period of three years. This will make it easier for refugees to take up work.
The Integration Act
The Federal Government adopted the Integration Act on 25 May 2016 at its special Cabinet meeting in Meseberg. The statutory instrument that forms part of the Integration Act sets out details regarding integration courses and the suspension of the labour market priority check.
Taking integration courses at an early stage:
Being able to speak German and knowing how German society works are of key importance when it comes to integration. More refugees are to be able to take integration courses as early as possible. That is why class sizes are to be increased and course providers will be required to publish information about what courses they have on offer.
Legal certainty while undergoing vocational training:
Trainees will be given exceptional leave to remain while they are undergoing vocational training. Those who are taken on by their training enterprise will be given a two-year right of residency.
Residence rule provides better means of control:
What makes for successful integration? One key aspect is the question of where someone lives. That is why asylum seekers will in future be assigned a place of residence. Because if, for example, too many refugees move to urban centres integration becomes very difficult.
Job opportunities for refugees:
While their asylum claim is being processed, refugees are to be able to take up meaningful employment. The Federal Government will be launching a “Refugee Integration Measures” programme for 100,000 asylum seekers.
Labour market priority check suspended:
It will be easier for refugees who have good prospects of being allowed to stay in Germany to take up a job. That is why the Federal Employment Agency will suspend its labour market priority check for a period of three years, depending on the regional job situation.
Making it easier to do vocational training:
Young refugees who have good prospects of being allowed to stay and other asylum seekers are to be able to start and complete a qualified vocational training course wherever possible. To make this easier, they too will now be eligible for a training grant.
Settlement permit dependent on integration:
The German government is creating a powerful incentive to integrate with regard to unlimited settlement permits. Only those recognised refugees who have shown they are willing to integrate will be given a settlement permit.
Uniform rule on permission to reside:
In future, asylum seekers will be granted permission to reside when they are issued with their arrival certificate. This will ensure that asylum seekers have legal certainty and are given early access to the labour market and integration courses.