In the 16 months since Germany resumed family reunifications for refugees with subsidiary protection, authorities approved close to 20,000 requests. The backlog, meanwhile, remains high.
German authorities issued a total of 10,461 visas to refugees living in Germany for the purpose of family reunification from January to the end of November this year.
That's according to numbers from Germany's foreign ministry obtained by news agency AFP.
With that, the number of family reunifications per month until the end of 2019 is likely going to be below the quota of 1,000 reunifications per month. In five months last year, German authorities issued a total of 2,612 visas.
The backlog, meanwhile, continues to be high: According to foreign ministry numbers, there were some 23,000 appointment requests for the family reunification with those under subsidiary protection worldwide at the beginning of December.
Although requests were permanently completed, the ministry said on request, new ones were coming in time and again.
In mid-2018, the ruling coalition of Chancellor Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats agreed to lift a suspension on permits for relatives of people with subsidiary protection after difficult negotiations.
The coalition partners agreed to limit the number of fresh permits to a maximum of 1,000 each month.
Relatives of people granted political asylum or protection under the Geneva Convention have long been able to apply for family reunification. The reunification right applies to the spouse and children of adult refugees. Parents may also apply if the person with asylum status is underage.
In order to get approved for family reunifications, relatives first need to file a request at German diplomatic missions abroad , where the requests are then checked before they are checked again at foreigners' offices in Germany.
The decision whether a visa will be issued or not is ultimately made by Germany's Federal Office of Administration. The subsequent implementation is again carried out by the embassies and consulates in the countries of origin. The complicated procedure saw a growing number of entry visas after a slow start.
According to the foreign ministry, diplomatic missions abroad approved 18,533 requests for family reunification since August 2018, roughly two thirds of those from January to November 2019.
Approval rate very high
In June and November, the number at this first process stage was already below the 1,000 mark, and the mark was only barely reached in several more months afterwards.
From August 2018 until November 2019, the foreigners' offices checked and sent a total of 13,331 requests to the Federal Office of Administration. This means that a good 5,000 requests (around 28%) got stuck at this process stage - or rather a decision was not yet made.
Almost all of the forwarded requests - 13,240 in total - were approved by the Federal Office of Administration. From January until the end of November, the foreigners' offices forwarded about 10,000 requests and approvals each.
This means Germany's Federal Office of Administration complied with the quota of 1,000 in 2019.
In August 2019, one year after family reunifications resumed, UNHCR had called on the German government to also recognize siblings as family members that could become eligible for reunification.
According to government data from April 2019, one in three foreigners seeking to join a spouse in Germany is unable to do so because they fail to pass a basic language test.
With material from AFP