Between April and June, the average processing time of an asylum request in Germany was ten months, an increase of nearly four months compared to the beginning of the year. The reasons appear to be related to anti-coronavirus measures.
The average time it took Germany's asylum authority BAMF to process asylum applications rose from 6.2 months in the first quarter of the year to ten months in the second quarter, an increase of roughly 60%.
That's according to an answer of Germany's federal government to an inquiry by the left-wing fraction in the Bundestag, the German Parliament.
In its answer, the government writes that behind this development were "two statistical effects, which particularly stem from the measures to contain" the COVID-19 pandemic.
Delivery of negative decisions halted
The first effect, according to the information provided by the government, had to do with infection control measures.
In order to comply with those measures, Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) temporarily halted the delivery of negative asylum decisions almost completely.
The pause happened because asylum seekers hardly had a chance to get legal advice or legal representation by a lawyer. What's more, some local BAMF branches that receive applications greatly reduced their services.
During this phase, "the asylum decisions were issued but not delivered," the document of the government reads. Afterwards, however, "they were gradually delivered" with success.
Prioritizing older procedures
According to the government's answer, the second effect that caused the longer processing time of asylum applications was the preferential treatment of older asylum procedures over first requests.
BAMF deliberately decided on the cases of those who had already had their hearing but were waiting for the result for a longer period of time, for example due to a medical report or requests for administrative assistance that weren't fully answered yet.
According to the government, finishing these relatively long procedures also statistically lengthened the overall duration of the processing time.
In early 2019, BAMF needed an average of six months to process asylum applications, falling short of its own stated goal of no longer than three months. This March, BAMF temporarily stopped conducting in-person asylum hearings to reduce the risk of infection with the coronavirus.