The information was assembled, expanded and verified on the basis of web articles published by the NGOs ProAsyl (article, German) and Flüchtlingsrat NRW (article, German) in 2022. Please note: The ProAsyl and Kulturrat NRW articles specifically address the situation of people from Afghanistan. The information in this article is more general.
(Last update in March 2023)
Section 22 of the German Residence Act (AufenthG) states that: “A foreigner may be granted a temporary residence permit for the purpose of admission from abroad for reasons of international law or on urgent humanitarian grounds. A temporary residence permit is to be granted if the Federal Ministry of the Interior or the body designated by it has declared, so as to uphold the political interests of the Federal Republic of Germany, that the foreigner is to be admitted.”
To apply for a visa on the basis of Section 22 Sentence 2, you will need what is known as an “admission” commitment (Aufnahmezusage) from the Federal Ministry of the Interior or from a body designated by the Ministry. Whether or not an admission commitment is granted is a political decision.
Once the admission commitment has been issued, you can apply for a visa from the foreign mission at your place of residence on the basis of Section 22 sentence 2 AufenthG. The foreign mission itself will determine the duration of the visa and specify it on the visa. Often, such humanitarian visas issued under Section 22 sentence 2 AufenthG have a duration of three months – but this is not mandatory, and a shorter duration can also be specified. When obtaining the visa, it is important to pay attention to the exact duration and ask the foreign mission in case of any uncertainty.
The visa can be used to enter Germany. Within the period of validity of the visa, you must then apply for a residence permit based on Section 22 sentence 2 AufenthG Act at the Ausländerbehörde (the competent immigration authority) in Germany.
In exceptional cases, it is also possible to issue what is known as a "visa on arrival" or "exceptional visa" in accordance with Section 14 AufenthG directly upon entry into Germany. However, the prerequisite for this is that it was not possible for the applicant to complete the normal visa procedure via the German foreign mission in their home country or country of residence, e.g. in cases of evacuation.
Important: If you hold a visa issued pursuant to Section 22 sentence 2 AufenthG you should not apply for asylum, as this would lead to the expiration of your visa pursuant to Section 55 (2) AsylG! In contrast to an asylum procedure, a special need for protection is already determined in advance in the case of admission pursuant to Section 22 sentence 2 AufenthG.
Please note: In individual cases, it may make sense for holders of a visa or a residence permit issued under Section 22 sentence 2 AufenthG to apply for asylum. However, you should seek detailed advice in order to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of undergoing the asylum procedure in your specific case before making a decision!
After receiving your visa, you must apply for a residence permit. This must be done during the period of validity of your visa. Residence permits are also issued pursuant to Section 22 sentence 2 AufenthG and are initially limited for a maximum of three years. Once the residence permit expires, it can be extended for the same period in each instance, Section 26 (1) AufenthG.
If you hold a residence permit issued pursuant to Section 22 Sentence 2 AufenthG, you cannot freely choose your place of residence in Germany, but will rather be assigned to one of the federal states on the basis of what is known as the Königsteiner Schlüssel (Königstein Key).
In general, you will then be obliged to live in your assigned place of residence for a period of three years (from the first issuance of a residence permit pursuant to Section 22 sentence 2 AufenthG).
However, the obligation shall not apply
The obligation may also be waived
This applies if the course/programme cannot be carried out or continued at your assigned place of residence without a delay.
This means that by taking up one of the above activities, e.g. an integration course, you can avoid having to move to an assigned location. A certificate for the course/programme should be presented to the Ausländerbehörde during your appointment when applying for a residence permit.
Employment, training and studies
If you are unable to secure your livelihood independently you can claim social benefits. If this is the case, you are entitled to the same social benefits as German nationals pursuant to SGB II and XII. Please contact your local job centre for information, applications, etc.
Participation in an integration course
If you hold a residence permit issued pursuant to Section 22 sentence 2 AufenthG you are eligible to be admitted to an integration course if there are free places (Section 44 (4) AufenthG). However, there is no legal entitlement to participate in an integration course. In order for you to participate, the approved course provider must submit an application to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees/ BAMF. When issuing a residence permit, the Ausländerbehörde can also oblige the holder to attend an integration course (Section 44a (1) no. 3 AufenthG).
In many cases, family members have also received a visa via the admission programme pursuant to Section 22 sentence 2 AufenthG. If this is not the case, the reunification of spouses and/or minor children may be permitted subsequently under international law or for humanitarian reasons or to safeguard the interests of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is possible in exceptional cases (Section 29 (3) sentence 1 AufenthG).
Family reunification of spouses and/or minor children is easier if protection status (refugee recognition or subsidiary protection) is granted after an asylum application. Therefore, in some cases, it may make sense to apply for asylum. However, you should seek advice on this matter before taking action!
Consolidation of the residence
Anyone who holds a residence permit in accordance with Section 22 sentence 2 AufenthG can obtain a settlement permit after five years, Section 26 AufenthG. Certain conditions must be met, e.g. livelihood security, knowledge of the German language at B1 level etc.