The right of residence has already met with a great response from foreigners who could benefit from the new regulation. This is shown by the results of a current survey by the media service integration in the federal states, which is available to the German Press Agency. According to this, at least 49,000 foreigners have already submitted a corresponding application in the first six months since the change in the law came into force.

According to the information, around 17,000 applications have already been approved and around 2,100 applications have been rejected. According to this, thousands of applications were still being processed at the time of the survey. The municipal umbrella organizations have been complaining for months about a very high workload in the immigration authorities, also due to an increased number of refugees and asylum seekers and as a result of changes in the law.

In the justification for the law, the federal government had assumed an estimated 98,000 applications for an opportunity residence permit. It was also assumed that around 33,000 people would meet the requirements for the transition to a secure residence permit after one year and then apply for it.

In the end there is a permanent right to stay

The Opportunity Residence Act came into force on December 31, 2022. There are people who, as of October 1, 2022, have been tolerated, permitted or have resided in Germany with a residence permit for at least five years, the opportunity to receive a kind of probationary residence permit for 18 months together with their relatives. Exceptions are criminals and people who “repeatedly intentionally gave false information” about their identity and thereby prevented their deportation. In the instructions for use that the Federal Ministry of the Interior has provided with regard to the right of residence, it says that “repeatedly” means at least two misrepresentations or acts of deception. “In particular, there is repeated action if the person concerned has given false information or deceived to various authorities.”

At the end of the 18 months, those who are primarily responsible for their own living, can show sufficient knowledge of German and a clarified identity should be given a permanent right to stay. The application instructions of the Federal Ministry of the Interior state: “If the identity is clarified during this period of validity and it emerges that the foreigner previously cheated, this knowledge does not lead to the expiry of the opportunity residence permit.” Because the aim of the new law is that the “honesty” should not have a negative effect.

According to the Central Register of Foreigners (AZR), a total of 304,308 people in Germany were required to leave Germany at the end of 2022, 248,145 of them with a toleration and 56,163 without a toleration. In addition to rejected asylum seekers, tourists, employees and foreign students can also be required to leave the country if their visa or residence permit has expired.

Tolerated people are people who are obliged to leave the country but cannot be deported for certain reasons. This may be because they do not have any identification documents, are ill or have a minor child who has a residence permit. The tolerance is limited.

Regional differences in the application

According to the central register of foreigners, there are around 137,000 tolerated persons who had been living in Germany for more than five years as of the reporting date. This means that more than one in three of them has already submitted an application.

The proportion of those who have now applied for the right of residence varies from region to region, as the survey showed. While in Berlin around 59 percent and in Bavaria 58 percent of those entitled have made an effort, the proportion in North Rhine-Westphalia is even lower. About every third person has submitted an application. Specialist lawyers for migration law told the media service Integration that the way in which the local authorities provide information about the right of residence could play a role here.

According to the media service, four percent of the applications were rejected in NRW. In Bavaria and Lower Saxony, around six percent of the applications were rejected.