What happens after my arrival?

Unaccompanied, underage refugees will be taken into custody by the Youth Welfare Office upon their arrival in Germany, which means the Youth Welfare Office provides you with initial accommodation and oversees all official procedures related to you. In the first step, a so-called clearing procedure ("Clearing-Verfahren") is carried out. If you do not have any ID or paper, your age will be determined through an age-assessment process, which is usually conducted based on a medical evaluation by an expert. If your age is estimated to be above the legal age (i.e. 18 years), you will be referred to the relevant Initial Reception Centre for adult refugees. However, if (according to your documents or as a result of the age assessment process) it is established that you are still a minor, the authorities will check if you have any relatives in Germany or Europe with whom you can and are willing to live. If this is not the case and you are under 18 years old, you will be referred to the Youth Welfare Office responsible for you, which may be located in the city of your initial arrival or another town in Germany. The staff there will provide you accommodation - either with a foster family or in a superintended housing facility for children and young people - and take care of your other needs (school, education, residence status, and alike).

Additionally, they will try to find you a guardian. A guardian will function as your legal representative and care-taker. You need to have a guardian since, as a minor, you are only able to decide a few things personally. In principle, either an employee of the relevant Youth Welfare Office or a private volunteer individual takes over the guardianship. As an unaccompanied minor refugee, You will have a guardian until you are of legal age according to the law in your home country.

Please note: If your age is miscalculated, talk to your guardian, a social worker at your initial reception facility, or staff at a counselling centre. It is crucial that the authorities do not consider you to be older than what you are. Otherwise, you cannot benefit from the support you are legally entitled to in Germany. Seek help from a counselling centre nearby.

Can I apply for asylum?

You can not apply for asylum as a minor, but your guardian can apply for asylum in writing on your behalf. To do so he or she just needs to send an informal letter to a branch office of the BAMF in your area. Seek advice from a lawyer or a counselling centre to learn whether it makes sense to apply for asylum in your case or not. Unaccompanied minor refugees who do not ask for asylum are usually granted a tolerated stay or ("Duldung"). According to the law, refugee children cannot be deported unless it is verified that a competent caregiver is waiting for them in their home country. You can find a counselling centre nearby on the website of ProAsyl or the Youth Migration Office. Visit our chapter "Asylum procedure" to learn more about the asylum procedure for adult refugees in Germany.

Can I be deported?

If you're under 18, you are more than often restricted from making legal decisions, so you won’t be able to apply for asylum personally. For this reason, you need a representative or "guardian" ("Vormund"). The Youth Welfare office ("Jugendamt") and the family court are responsible for finding you a guardian. There are various types of guardianship. The most common are official and voluntary guardianship: An official guardian is, in fact, an employee of the Youth Welfare Office and often supervises several young people. An honorary guardian is a someone who does this work voluntarily and earns no money from it. If you have friends or relatives in Germany, they can also take over as your guardian.

Can I go to school in Germany?

In Germany, all children must attend school from the age of six or seven, depending on the federal state in which they live. Refugee children of the same age range and older in most of the federal states must start school soon after their arrival in Germany. The regulations regarding mandatory schooling for refugee children are different from state to state, but all children and adolescents living in Germany should attend school for at least nine years. Find out more about the German school system in our chapter "School".

How can I find my family?

If you are looking for your parents or other family members, you can seek help from the following relief organisations:

Can I bring my family to Germany?

Upon successful completion of the asylum procedure, unaccompanied refugee minors have the right to bring their parents and sometimes their underage siblings to Germany. Find out more in our chapter "Family reunification".

Please note: You cannot apply for family reunification independently- You have to do this along with your guardian.

What happens when I turn 18?

If you have not yet applied for asylum and hold a tolerated stay permit or "Duldung" as an unaccompanied minor refugee, you lose your deportation protection as you turn 18. This means you may get deported starting from your 18th birthday. That is why it is crucial that you talk to a lawyer or counselling centre about your residence options before you turn 18. You can apply for asylum, a residence permit or an educational tolerated stay permit („Ausbildungsduldung“). You can find a lawyer or a counselling centre through ProAsyl, the Refugee Council or the Youth Migration Service.

Your guardian and the Youth Welfare Office are no longer responsible for you from the day you turn 18 which means you can make legal decisions independently. However, You may have to move out of your community accommodation and face restricted healthcare service and lack of support in education and training. Besides, as you reach the legal age, you will receive less or no support regarding education and vocational training compared to before. Under certain conditions, however, you can apply for a so-called "extension of assistance" („Antrag auf Hilfeverlängerung“ ) at your local Youth Welfare Office. If accepted, you will receive support until you reach the age of 21. But you need to be able to explain and prove why you need these extra years of support. You must submit your application for further assistance together with your guardian before your 18th birthday.