Schengen countries are the European countries that have signed the Schengen Agreement. There are usually no border controls between these countries. You can see the current Schengen countries at


In Germany, some groups of people are recognised as particularly vulnerable and in need of protection. And in some cases, different rules apply to these groups of people. Particularly vulnerable refugees are minors, unaccompanied minors, people with disabilities, the elderly (over 65 years of age), pregnant women, single parents with underage children, victims of human trafficking, people with severe physical illnesses, people with mental illnesses and people who have been tortured or raped or have suffered other severe forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence. Refugees who are in particular need of protection are entitled to proper care. 

Sichere Drittstaaten

Safe third countries are countries in which compliance with the Human Rights Convention and the Geneva Convention on Refugees is secured. This applies to the member states of the European Union as well as Norway and Switzerland. Foreign citizens who want to enter Germany from a safe third country to seek asylum can be turned away at the border. 

Sichere Herkunftsländer

Safe countries of origin are states in which political persecution or inhumane treatment is not assumed to be prevalent. You can find out more in our chapter "Safe countries of origin". 

Sicherung des Lebensunterhalts

You are considered to be able to secure a livelihood if can earn a living without government aids. So your earnings must be enough to cover accommodation, health insurance, food, clothing, etc. "Enough" means you should earn at least as much of what the Job Centre pays.


Social assistance is financial aid from the state for people with very little to no income. And it is intended to prevent poverty and exclusion. In contrast to unemployment benefit II, social assistance is aimed at people who are unable to work regularly. For example, because they are sick or they have to look after their children. Social assistance is only available for people who can work less than three hours a day. The legal basis for this state aid is SGB XII. Social assistance is paid by the municipalities. 

sozialversicherungspflichtig beschäftigt

All employees and trainees who earn more than € 450 per month are subject to social insurance contributions. Employment subject to compulsory social insurance contributions means that the person is insured in unemployment insurance, health insurance, accident insurance, pension insurance and long-term care insurance. You can find out more in our "Social insurance" chapter. 

subsidiärer Schutz

Subsidiary protection is a form of protection that can be granted in the asylum procedure. To receive subsidiary protection, a person must be in great danger in their country. For example, because the person is threatened with torture or the death penalty. Or because their lives are in danger from an international or domestic armed conflict. You can find out more in our chapter "Residence Permits for Refugees".