Safe Countries of Origin

Sichere Herkunftsländer

What does it mean?

Authorities or the media often talk about "safe countries of origin" ("sicheren Herkunftsländern" or "sicheren Herkunftsstaaten"). But to which countries do the term refer? Here we explain what a so-called "safe country of origin" is and how coming from such countries can affect your asylum procedure in Germany.

What do I need to know?

What is a "Safe Country of Origin"?

In Germany, a country is considered to be a "safe country of origin" when its people, in principle, are not subject to state-sponsored prosecution, and the state is in general able to protect its citizens from non-state persecution. The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) initially assumes that the individuals who come from these countries do not need protection in Germany. The asylum seekers from these countries must, therefore, prove the opposite to BAMF during their asylum process.

Currently, the following countries are considered to be "safe countries of origin" in Germany:

  • Albania
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Ghana
  • Kosovo
  • Macedonia
  • Montenegro
  • Senegal
  • Serbia
  • all member states of the EU

The inclusion of the following countries to the list has been regularly the subject of debate in Germany:

  • Algeria
  • Georgia
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia

But currently, they are not considered as safe countries of origin.

What should I consider during my asylum procedure as someone who comes from a "safe country of origin"?

In principle, the asylum procedure of persons from "safe countries of origin" does not differ from the asylum procedure for others- but if you come from a "safe country of origin", your asylum procedure is usually concluded faster.

The hearing is the most crucial step for asylum seekers who come from "safe countries of origin". At the hearing you must describe the persecution you went through in the country of origin and, if available, provide evidence for your statements. If the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) acknowledges your statement as valid, despite coming from a "safe country of origin", you may be granted a protection status and, thus, a German residence permit.

However, most asylum applications from the citizens' of "safe countries of origin" are rejected as "Obviously unfounded" ("offensichtlich unbegründet"). Your application will be rejected as "Obviously unfounded" when the BAMF does not believe your story or assumes that you came to Germany for economic reasons.

If your asylum application is rejected as "Obviously unfounded", you have to react quickly. You only have one week to apply to the designated court for an urgent appeal ("Eilantrag") and challenge the decision. If you do not file an urgent appeal or in case the court rejects it, you may be deported. You can read more about this subject in our chapter "Rejected Asylum".

What special rules apply to individuals from "safe countries of origin" during their asylum procedure?
  • In principle, Individuals from "safe countries of origin" must live in initial reception centres (or special accommodation facilities) until the end of their asylum procedure. That means you cannot find a flat and move out.
  • Individuals from "safe countries of origin" are not allowed to work.
  • Individuals from "safe countries of origin" may not travel within Germany, or can only do so with the permission of the Immigration Office ("Ausländerbehörde").
  • In principle, individuals from "safe countries of origin" cannot participate in the integration courses.
  • In some federal states, children who live in initial reception centres are not subject to compulsory schooling. Check landkarte-kinderrechte.de and our chapter "School" to find out whether your federal state is one of them or not.

Important

If you have questions about your rights and options, contact a local counselling centre. You can find one on the Pro Asyl website. Furthermore, on www.rechtsberaterkonferenz.de you can find lawyers who specialise in refugees' and asylum seekers' issues.

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