48

I was recently granted German refugee status with a travel document and, in my interview, I told them I would never go back to my home country, Iraq. Now, someone I loved died in my country.

Is it possible for me to leave and return to the Schengen area, using my Iraqi passport? Would German Immigration notice and would it revoke my refugee status?

Would I be able to use both my Iraqi passport and my German travel documents? Would the German authorities know if I did this?

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – JoErNanO Nov 28 '17 at 15:27
  • 14
    The fact you feel safe to return home for their funeral means you are not a refugee, and are taking advantage of the system. – Jason Nov 30 '17 at 12:55
  • 3
    Close voters, I disagree that this is an off-topic question about long-term travel. The question is about a person who now lives in Germany and wants to travel briefly to Iraq; it is not a question about making a long-term visit to anywhere. – David Richerby Dec 4 '17 at 18:57
116

If you are a refugee, as defined by the UN convention, then no, you can't return to your home country without losing your refugee status. After all, the fact that you dare to return means that 1) the situation in your country has improved so giving you refugee status isn't necessary anymore, or 2) you lied to authorities in the first place to get refugee status.

However,

there are many people who come to Germany as refugees, are not granted refugee status (as per UN convention), but are still allowed to stay for some time ("Duldung"). Reasons for this may be

  • civil war in your home country, which is not per se a reason to be granted refugee status, but makes it too dangerous to send you home
  • not a refugee yourself, but family member of a refugee, especially a minor
  • being a minor, or being in an education that ends with an official job title (Azubi)
  • various others

If you have one of these, there might be a chance you can return after visiting your home country.

Also, there are cases when refugees returned to their home country for a short while, and did not lose their refugee status.

This article http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/fluechtlinge-machen-urlaub-in-heimatlaendern-was-an-der-meldung-falsch-ist-a-1163448.html from Aug 18, 2017 cites the BAMF (Bundesamt für Flüchtlinge, federal office for refugees) with

Anders als Asylbewerber, deren Verfahren noch nicht abgeschlossen sind, dürfen anerkannte Asylberechtigte, Flüchtlinge oder subsidiär Schutzberechtigte nach europäischem Recht mit diesem Aufenthaltstitel auch Auslandsreisen unternehmen. Reisen in den Verfolgerstaat seien kein Erlöschensgrund, könnten nur im Einzelfall zur Aberkennung des Schutzstatus führen.

in English (translation mine)

In contrast to refugee candidates, whose proceedings have not ended, accepted [refugees] according to EU laws are allowed to travel abroad. Trips to the originating country are not a reason to cancel [the status], and can only lead to revoking the protection status in special cases.

The article also says that things depend on the reason of the trip, going for a holiday is a lot more problematic than visiting a terminally ill relative.

So, if you have an important, urgent reason to travel home, you might be able to do so without losing your status. But check with an immigration lawyer first, and do not, under any circumstances, try to cheat the system; you'll be in a lot more trouble in case you're found out. And since authorities are closely watching potential ISIS supporters visiting middle eastern countries, it's almost impossible not to be found out.

Also, with the current political situation (right wing AFD gaining 15% in the elections, mostly by being anti-refugee), the government just can't afford any "I had a great time in my home country, now returned to enjoy German social security" reports. So don't expect any leniency from authorities.

A good starting point to get legal advice seems to be https://www.proasyl.de/asylberatung/ (I am not affiliated with them in any way) - they give free advice, help with finding a lawyer, and if you need a lawyer but can't pay for one, may provide financial support, backed by donations. They will advice you by phone as well as email, and they speak English as well as German. Googling for "flüchtlingshilfe rechtsberatung" will provide many other helpful links as well.

  • 19
    This is really the only answer. Consult an immigration lawyer. I’m not familiar with German charities but it’s likely there is a refugee aid charity that will provide such a consultation for little to no cost. (If you know of one you can point OP to, that would be an excellent addition to an already excellent answer.) – Dennis Nov 27 '17 at 5:45
  • 1
    IRC seems to have a German presence: rescue-uk.org/irc-germany – Dennis Nov 27 '17 at 5:47
  • 4
    Your translation may have lost a few details. "Asylberechtigter" / "Asylbewerber" is not refugee (candidate); it refers to political persecution. "Flüchtlinge" (refugees) flee from dangers such as war (which may include political prosecution). "Subsidiär Schutzberechtigte" (entitled to subdidiary protection) miss refugee status, but are not to be deproted back home because they may still risk e.g. death penalty or torture there. However, the quote holds for "all of the above" anyway, the only exception being not yet accepted asylum-seekers. – Hagen von Eitzen Nov 27 '17 at 11:13
  • 10
    @henning: I don't want the answer to come across as "yes, you can do it", I want it to read as "basically, no, but there may be exceptions, and these exceptions may apply to OP, or other readers who have a similar need, but these need to be careful and not just assume it's ok". – Guntram Blohm Nov 27 '17 at 11:13
  • 2
    @Fattie you’re missing “as defined by the UN convention”. Under a very specific set of circumstances, the answer is “no”. Under other sets of circumstances it’s not so clear cut, and that’s what the rest of the answer details. Since we don’t know what OPs exact status is, and since others who aren’t UN-classified refugees may come upon this answer, covering these other sets of circumstances seems prudent and helpful. You seem to want a simple, perfectly specific answer to a question which is neither simple nor perfectly specific. – Dennis Nov 29 '17 at 6:37
112

You were given refugee status because you convinced them that you couldn't go back to Iraq. So yes, if they know you went back you will likely lose your status.

As for how to cheat the government and still go, I'm not sure you'll find someone here who can give you advice on that. Most people in this site are not into cheating; and even if you got concrete advice, betting your immigration status on anonymous advice on the internet is not a good idea.

Edit: some commenters below are asking for "sources". In this document, for instance, we can read

For example, if you made false statements during the asylum procedure, the BAMF can withdraw your protection status.

The OP has said that he told the BAMF that he was not going back to Iraq. As far as I can tell, going there is not prohibitited per se, but it could make the asylum application fraudulent. I said above that it is likely that status could be lost, and it feels even more likely when Germany is actually cracking down on fraudulent asylum seekers.

  • 56
    In some countries, even just using your original country's passports counts as "accepting the protection of your home state" and could lead to the end of refugee status. ccrweb.ca/en/cessation-basic-information – SJuan76 Nov 25 '17 at 20:01
  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – JoErNanO Nov 28 '17 at 15:26
44

An acquaintance did the same and got his refugee status revoked when he was found out. In his case the country of origin was Afghanistan and the host country was Britain. I reckon the same rules apply in Germany as well.

  • 8
    As a general principle, I believe German immigration rules are much more humane than UK laws. (I speak as a Brit living in Germany.) – Martin Bonner Nov 27 '17 at 11:17
  • 3
    A Somali refugee living in Finland was killed in Mogadishu a few years ago when he travelled there to run in elections. No such rule here; you get refugee status if your life is in danger. If you want to risk it, go ahead. – JollyJoker Nov 27 '17 at 15:21
  • 9
    A single (second hand) example may not be very useful as a general guidance. How could this get 40 upvotes? – Trilarion Nov 28 '17 at 10:15
  • 8
    "I reckon the same rules apply in Germany as well." that is spectacularly incorrect. – Fattie Nov 28 '17 at 15:02
19

A recent addition to the Asylgesetz, §8(1c), says that authorities such as the police, border control, the foreigner's authority, or the social welfare office must notify the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF) if you're travelling home. BAMF then has to decide again about your refugee status.

Your refugee status will be lost if you settle in your home country ("sich dort niedergelassen hat"), among other reasons, see §72(1a) Asylgesetz. If you're only going home for a short visit, there might be a chance that you can keep your refugee status and return.

As many others have written, seek professional legal advice before you decide to visit your home country.

(I'm no legal expert. My personal advice would be: don't go, unless your reason to travel is far more compelling than the reasons why you're seeking refuge.)

  • 7
    Congrats on posting a seemingly correct answer with links to the relevant laws. The other answers here are a train wreck. Absurd how the accepted one is downvoted to hell while the most upvoted one is obviously wrong. – JollyJoker Nov 28 '17 at 8:18
  • 1
    Another advice could be to ask the BAMF before. Yes, it will know then, but at least one would have an authoritative opinion by then. – Trilarion Nov 28 '17 at 10:14
  • 1
    exactly as @JollyJoker says, the other answers here are a dumpster fire. This is the only answer worth anything. – Fattie Nov 28 '17 at 15:03
  • 1
    @JollyJoker It feels to me like a situation where people feel morally bothered by the question and vote for information they want to be true. – Casey Nov 30 '17 at 19:18
-7

Contrary to popular belief, going back to your home country indeed does not make you lose your refugee status. Not in Germany at least. Unluckily, as I personally have to say, with all respect to your personal loss

The BAMF recently (4 months ago) reported that people with refugee status going back on visits to their home lands is a phenomenon that is not at all unusual, and there is still no legal procedure for this. They explicitly stated that while they might revoke someone's individual status (probably if the trip is for fighting in war, for going to a terror training camp or such a thing?), going back to one's home country as such is generally not a reason.

  • 9
    Politics.stackexchange.com is that way ===> – Martin Bonner Nov 27 '17 at 11:22
  • 11
    @MartinBonner Such a rant is not on-topic or welcome on Politics.SE either. – gerrit Nov 27 '17 at 12:30
  • @gerrit but there it might be possible to edit it into a useful contribution. I see no hope for that here. – Martin Bonner Nov 27 '17 at 12:35
  • 5
    80% of this answer are off-topic. The part that is on-topic is potentially informative, but fails to provide sources. – henning Nov 27 '17 at 13:10
  • 3
    @KonradRudolph After JoErNaNos edit, yes. – gerrit Nov 27 '17 at 16:18

protected by Community Nov 27 '17 at 16:38

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.