The Integration Act was adopted on the 25 May 2016 and intends to facilitate refugee integration into society. The guiding principle on which the new legislation is based is that of ‘support and challenge’. Refugees who have good prospects of being allowed to stay permanently will be eligible to take integration courses and to take advantage of job and training opportunities sooner than before. However, they will also be required to work on their own integration. Those asylum seekers who refuse to take part in an integration course or who do not meet their duties to cooperate will have their benefits curtailed.
The Integration Act defines the details of integration courses, access to vocational training and the labour market, as well as residence:
- taking integration courses at an early stage: being able to speak German and knowing how German society works are of key importance to integration. More refugees should be able to take integration courses as early as possible. That is why the number of courses and class sizes are to be increased;
- legal certainty while undergoing vocational training: trainees will be given exceptional leave to remain in Germany while they are undergoing vocational training. Those who are taken on by their training enterprise will be given a two-year right of residency;
- making it easier to do vocational training: young refugees who have good prospects of being allowed to stay are to be able to start and complete a qualified vocational training course wherever possible. To make this easier, they will now be eligible for a training grant;
- job opportunities for refugees: while their asylum claim is being processed, refugees are to be able to take up meaningful employment, such as serving meals or tending to green spaces in their refugee shelter. The Federal Government launched a Refugee integration measures programme for 100 000 asylum seekers in August;
- labour market priority check suspended: it will be easier for refugees who have good prospects of being allowed to stay in Germany to take up a job. The Federal Employment Agency will suspend its labour market priority check for a period of three years, depending on the regional job situation;
- settlement permit dependent on integration will: the German government is creating a powerful incentive to integrate: only those recognised refugees who have shown their willingness to integrate will be given a settlement permit;
- residence rule provides better means of control: one key aspect of successful integration is the question of where someone lives. Asylum seekers will be assigned a place of residence, because if, for example, too many refugees move to urban centres, integration becomes very difficult;
- uniform rule on permission to reside: asylum seekers will be granted permission to reside when they are issued with their arrival certificate. This will ensure that asylum seekers have legal certainty and are given early access to the labour market and integration courses.