New statistics released by the German Ministry for the Interior reveals that the number of family reunifications for people with subsidiary protection status remained below the quota of 1000 per month in 2019 and completely collapsed in the first months of 2020. Covid-19 related measures have hampered reunification procedures throughout the EU.

In 2019, Germany granted 11,129 visas for people to reunite with their families, as in the previous year, less than the quota limit of 1,000 per month on average. The quota has been in place since summer 2018 and was agreed in the coalition deal after Germany had suspended the right to family reunification for people with subsidiary protection in early 2016 in response to an increased numbers of asylum seekers reaching Germany since summer 2015.

2020 saw a significant decline in family reunifications: from 782 visas issued in February to 480 in March, and only four in April following measures in relation to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. In May, the NGO Pro Asyl denounced the quasi-suspension of family reunifications, stressing that refugees cannot be stripped of their fundamental right to be united with their families due to the pandemic. Ulla Jelpke, MP from the German left party Die Linke, urges that unfulfilled quotas and unused permits should not be allowed to expire.  

In a recent report on COVID-19 emergency measures in asylum and reception systems, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) noted that in many European countries family reunification procedures have been disrupted due to the closure of public services, including diplomatic and consular missions abroad. Delay or suspension at different stages of the procedures are reported in Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands amongst others.

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Photo: (cc) Lily, September 2007

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.