Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is no longer conducting in person asylum hearings to reduce the risk of infection with the coronavirus. However, BAMF said written applications would still be processed and that there were exceptions to the rule.
Germany is extending its precautionary measures in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. As the German daily Welt reported on Friday, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) decided that asylum seekers can only submit written applications from now on. The new rule is valid for the time being.
"These measures have been taken for the protection of all those involved and to curb the spread of the pandemic," BAMF said in a letter, cited by Welt.
#Update: #Asylanträge werden ab sofort im Regelfall nur noch schriftlich entgegengenommen. Die #Asylverfahrensberatung ist vorübergehend ausgesetzt. Alle Neuigkeiten zu Auswirkungen von #Covid_19 im Zusammenhang mit dem #BAMF gibt es hier ▶️ https://t.co/sDfR9NMfK8 pic.twitter.com/3TMf62U3X0— BAMF (@BAMF_Dialog) March 20, 2020
BAMF said counseling for asylum proceedings was "temporarily suspended," but applicants would receive a temporary residence permit on the basis of their written applications.
Personal hearings will be postponed until after the coronavirus pandemic, the letter said. However, there will be exceptions to this rule: Cases that pose potential security risks will still be processed, and each of Germany's 16 states will have one office where these hearings can be conducted, BAMF says.
Moreover, "security-related proceedings" will continue to be carried out without constraints, according to the letter. BAMF will continue to send out decision letters for the cases it processes.
Criticism over lax measures
At the beginning of last week, BAMF declared that asylum applications would still be received in person under certain circumstances to maintain Germany’s asylum system despite wideranging restrictions in nearly all administrative areas.
Asylum seekers were still allowed to show up for an appointment under the condition that they presented a negative coronavirus test certificate. But after internal criticism by staff grew louder, the BAMF management decided to only accept written applications from now on.
The situation in some migrant accommodation facilities has also come to a head: Last week, police responded to a protest by residents of a center for asylum seekers in the German city of Suhl, where more than 500 migrants have been placed under quarantine after a man in the facility tested positive for the new coronavirus.
With material from KNA