The Ampel parties want to promote migration and make it easier for foreigners who have been living in Germany for years to live in the country in the long term. The new right of residence offers well-integrated tolerated persons a right to stay on probation.

The traffic light coalition has launched the first stage of its migration reform. The federal cabinet passed a draft law on Wednesday that gives well-integrated migrants easier access to a permanent right to stay. For this purpose, a new so-called opportunity residence law is to be enshrined in law. The draft also provides for improvements for skilled workers and asylum seekers. Another point: the deportation of criminals should be made easier. What exactly is it about:

The problem

As of December 31, 2021, around 242,000 foreigners were only living in Germany with a “Duldung” status – 136,600 of them for more than five years. For many, this means a stalemate: They have settled in Germany, but they cannot make long-term plans for life in this country. Since they do not have a permanent right to stay, they must expect to be deported to their homeland at some point. The federal government believes that this uncertainty is an obstacle to integration and career prospects.

The solution

A new right to stay on probation is intended to pave the way for those affected to remain in Germany permanently. All those tolerated who have lived in Germany for at least five years as of December 31, 2021 should benefit from this. You will now receive what is known as an opportunity residence permit for a period of one year. During this period, they can then create the conditions for a permanent right to stay: earn a living, demonstrate German language skills, clarify their identity. According to the draft law, this option only applies to people who “successfully integrate into our society and act in accordance with the law”. Criminals are excluded.

Who else benefits from the law?

In the future, foreign skilled workers should be able to bring spouses and underage children to Germany without them having to prove German language skills beforehand – this used to be a major hurdle for family reunification. This should make Germany more attractive to these urgently needed workers. There are also improvements for asylum seekers: In the future, they should have access to integration courses and professional language courses right from the start and thus have better chances of later earning their own living.

For whom does the law provide for tightening?

In their coalition agreement, the Ampel parties agreed on a “repatriation offensive” in order to better implement the deportation of criminals and people who are dangerous. The new law is intended to create the basis for this: in future, criminals who are required to leave the country should be able to be held in custody pending deportation for up to six months instead of the previous three months. “Consistent repatriation is required in the interests of acceptance of a humanitarian migration policy,” the draft law says.

How much does the new regulation on migration cost?

Above all, costs are incurred for the opening of integration and language courses: The coalition estimates the additional expenditure at a total of 436.5 million euros for the years 2022 to 2026. Social security funds will also initially face higher costs: those who use the opportunity to stay changes from benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act to higher benefits from basic security. For 2023, the federal government expects additional spending of 180 million euros. In the long term, however, the hoped-for better integration of those affected should in turn lead to additional income.