Asylum seekers' benefits

Asylum seekers are entitled to financial support from the state. These aids are called asylum seekers' benefits ("Asylbewerberleistungen"). As an asylum seeker, you are provided food and drinks, clothes, shoes, toiletries and household items. You also receive a so-called "pocket money" ("Taschengeld") with which you can, for instance, buy a SIM card, a bus ticket or other items you need. The state also pays for your accommodation.

Whether you will be handed the necessary everyday items directly, or receive money to buy those things yourself depends on where you live. In the initial reception facilities, you are usually handed these items directly. If you live in another form of housing or an apartment, you often receive money to buy the articles you need. Each federal state has its specific regulations- in some federal states, asylum seekers receive some cash along with some goods.

The amount of cash you receive depends, among other things, on whether you are married and/or have children or not. Every month you receive a letter from the Social Welfare Office, in which the amount of payment you receive is specified. If you do not receive this letter, notify the staff member responsible for you. You can seek advice from a counselling centre regarding the amount of financial aid you receive. They can tell you if the amount you receive has been calculated correctly. You can find a counselling centre nearby on the Pro Asyl website.

Please note: Asylum seekers usually do not receive child and parental allowance ("Kindergeld" and "Elterngeld"). Only asylum seekers from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Turkey who have a job with a claim on social insurance can apply for parental allowance during their asylum procedure.

Medical care

The type of medical care you receive differs depending on the duration of your stay in Germany. Asylum seekers who have been in Germany for less than 15 months are provided with emergency treatments. Asylum seekers who have been residing in Germany for more than 15 months can enjoy regular medical care from a statutory health insurance company. You can learn more about the medical care available for refugees in our chapter "Health Care for Refugees".

Work, vocational training & study

As an asylum seeker, you are not allowed to work as self-employed. If you want to work as an employee, you need to apply for a work permit. Read our chapter "Work Permit" to learn if and how you can obtain a work permit.

You are allowed to study during your asylum procedure. To learn more about universities in Germany see our chapter "University system". You may also start a school-based vocational training. To take part in a dual vocational training, however, you need a work permit. You can learn more about the vocational training system in Germany in our chapter "Dual Vocational Training" and "School-based Vocational Training."

Kindergarten & School

In principle, your children are entitled to a slot in a childcare facility, but the federal states have different regulations as to when a refugee child has the right to daycare. Here is a map which can provide you with the laws and regulations concerning daycare rights in your federal state of residence. For more advice, seek help from a counselling centre. Read more about kindergartens in Germany in our chapter "Child Care".

In Germany, schooling is mandatory for children older than six years, but the federal states have different regulations as to when a refugee child must go to school. To find out more about manatory age of schooling in your federal state of residence, you can visit http://landkarte-kinderrechte.de . Alternatively, you can seek advice from a counselling centre. Find out more about the school system in Germany in our chapter "School".

Integration Course

In our chapter "Integration Course", you can learn more about the integration courses and find out whether you can take part in one.

Distribution & Housing

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  • When you register as an asylum seeker, the town in which you should live is also determined. This decision is not one made by the staff independently- it is an arrangement made by a computer system. This nation-wide computer system decides about your city of residence based on the available spots in different initial reception centres and the cities which are responsible for people from your home country. In principle, you cannot change this decision. If there is a solid reason why you need to live in a specific city (for example: because your ailing father lives there), seek help from a counselling centre- you can find one nearby on the Pro Asyl website.
  • In the first few weeks or months after applying for asylum, you are obliged to live in an initial reception centre, i.e. a specific housing for asylum seekers who have just arrived in Germany. After 18 months, you will usually be relocated, either to another refugee housing or an apartment in the same city or another one nearby. You cannot easily oppose or reverse such relocations. If there is a solid reason why you need to live in a specific city (for example because your ailing father lives there), contact a counselling centre for advice- you can find one nearby on the Pro Asyl website.
  • Asylum seekers receiving asylum seeker benefits are required to live in the city where they were initially sent in the distribution process, which means you cannot just move to another town while you still receive asylum seeker benefits. If there is a solid reason why you need to move to a specific city (for example because your ailing father lives there), contact a counselling centre for advice- you can find one nearby on the Pro Asyl website.

In some federal states, asylum seekers can leave the accommodation centre and look for an apartment. Contact a counselling centre to learn if your federal state permits you to move to your own flat. Keep in mind that finding a flat is not easy in many cities in Germany. You can find out more about flat hunting in our chapter "Searching for a Flat".

Travel

You are not allowed to travel within Germany in the first three months after applying for asylum and as long as you live in an initial reception centre, i.e. you are not permitted to leave your city during the mentioned period. This regulation is called "Residenzpflicht". If you need to leave your city for an important appointment, you must obtain specific permission from the Immigration Office ("Ausländerbehörde") to do so. The only exception is when you have an appointment with authorities or at a court: in such cases, you only need to inform the Immigration Office and the BAMF about your appointment in writing. If you leave your city without permission and get caught, you will have to pay a fine. If repeated, you may face a fine or imprisonment, and the incident can affect your future residence status negatively.

It is crucial to keep in mind that you must not travel abroad during your asylum procedure. You can learn more in our chapter “Travelling Abroad for Refugees”.