Why it takes so long to register refugees in Westerwald

Press release on 05/18/2022

When will I finally be registered? When will I finally get the residence permit? Some people who have fled Ukraine think this way now. As reported by the district administration of Montabor, this is also very important for people from Ukraine. But the process is complicated.

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Montabor. Because not only registration and subsequent issuance of a residence permit opens access to the labor market and social benefits, but also to the important integration course and to school. As reported by the district administration in a press release, the Westerwald Region Immigration Office is working hard to register more than 1,600 Ukrainian refugees who have entered the country using the so-called PIK procedure. At the same time, many employees are doing important work in connection with the Ukraine war. This includes, for example, the collection of personal data for registration and transmission of data to various authorities. But also the processing of applications for other necessary official documents such as residence permit is part of it. At the same time, the authority is trying to provide a continuous telephone service and answers many inquiries in this way.

What does registration at the PIK station include?
The name PIK-Station refers to the customization infrastructure component. The PIK station technology includes a camera, document verification device, fingerprint scanner, printer, and software for registration and identity verification. All federal immigration authorities use this technology. Due to the sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers in Germany, especially in 2015, the digitization of the asylum procedure has been promoted by the close cooperation of the federal, state and local governments in order to improve data exchange.

The authorities aim for the early and comprehensive registration of foreigners entering Germany, especially those seeking protection. Within the scope of the identification service, in particular through the registration of biometric data, a person with the same or similar personal data must be prevented from registering in Germany and, for example, receiving social benefits twice. In addition, criminals or people with an extremist background must also be identified at an early stage.

For registration with the district administration, the personal details given on the registration form were sent to the Central Register of Aliens of the Federal Office of the Department in advance. During the interview, fingerprints are taken of the existing data record and a biometric image is taken. This data has been integrated into the data system of the Federal Republic of Germany and compared with national and international databases.

What happens after registration?
The so-called “mass influx” directive came into effect by decree at the beginning of March. This means that the same non-bureaucratic procedure for issuing a humanitarian residence permit to refugees from Ukraine applies in all EU member states. In this way, those seeking protection can obtain a residence permit without having to go through the asylum procedure. As a result, the homeless from Ukraine can access jobs, education, social services and medical care.

When applying for a residence permit – just as when registering – a personal visit is also required to register the biometric data.
So that Ukrainian refugees do not have to visit the district center several times, biometric data for issuing a residence permit is simultaneously recorded as part of this registration. In this context, you must also read fingerprints and scan photographs. The residence permit is requested by credit card and, if necessary, a travel document from the Bundesdruckerei. It currently takes about four to eight weeks to prepare a residence permit. Applicants will receive confirmation of the residence permit issued until the residence permit is finally issued, so that they can identify themselves accordingly.

Issuance of a residence permit gives refugees access to the labor market and the integration course, among other things. So that those refugees who did not have an appointment to register and therefore apply for a residence permit do not suffer from any drawbacks, the so-called fictional certificates will be issued in the next few days. This means that accommodation is generally considered permitted until the residence permit is issued. With this fictional certificate, you can then start working or attend an integration course. This can also be used in the future to submit a request to the responsible social service provider.

These bogus certificates will soon be sent to the responsible municipal departments and those affected can obtain them after notifying us.

How long does registration take?
Due to the registration of vital data and comparing the data with international databases, the registration process is very time consuming and usually takes about 30 minutes.

However, there are still difficulties with using the PIK terminal. A particularly large number of problems arise from the fact that data synchronization lines are overloaded due to simultaneous access from all immigration authorities of the federal government, which leads to network failure. Due to complaints from the immigration authorities, the lines have become more stable. However, it happens again and again that it is not possible to establish a connection to the databases and it is not possible to register. These shortcomings put those directly affected and immigration officials alike to a severe test of patience. Colleagues at the Immigration Office try every day to summon as many refugees as possible for registration. However, they then fail due to a non-functioning PIK terminal, which has only a limited impact on its functionality.

Why is it not registered in several PIK stations?
In the wake of the wave of refugees, the immigration authorities had to set up a PIK station to register people who had entered the country illegally. Due to the small number of people required to be registered, one PIK station has been quite sufficient since then. More PIK stations cannot be justified, not least because of the higher purchase and maintenance costs, so that most of the country’s immigration authorities only have a matching logging device.
Another PIK station ordered immediately at the beginning of the Ukraine war. However, due to delivery problems at the Bundesdruckerei, it is not clear when this can be provided.

How will the Immigration Office react so that more people can be registered?
Extended working hours:
In order to improve the situation, the immigration authorities have extended working hours during the week and are now operating continuously not only on weekdays but also on weekends.
Book an appointment online:
Usually, people can book an appointment online on the district’s homepage to apply for a residence permit, among other things. Due to the large influx of Ukrainian refugees and the large workload, the needs of other clients from other countries could no longer be adequately met, so a division was set up in Ukraine. This Ukrainian department was separated from the day-to-day work of the immigration authorities and reinforced with additional temporary staff. Contrary to the usual procedure, the dates of registration have previously been set by the immigration authorities after receiving the application.

The numerous calls make it clear that some refugees would like to be able to independently book appointments for registration, residence permit, etc. So it will be possible in the future to book appointments for registration on two days a week. This time window will initially open on a monthly basis just so you can evaluate the action.
At the same time, on other days – as before – after the date of application, people are called and, if necessary, prioritized, for example in the case of an offer of work.

Upon delivery of the residence permit, future persons will be informed that the residence permit is ready for collection and will be asked to schedule an appointment online.

As stated by the district administration, phone availability for the Immigration Office cannot be expanded at the moment. Otherwise, the registration of refugees cannot be carried out with the necessary strictness. Therefore, the Aliens Authority recommends sending any written questions to the Ukrainian Post Office (ukraine@westerwaldkreis.de) if possible. If telephone availability is limited, questions from other foreign nationals can be sent to the general mailbox (ausländerbehoerde@westerwaldkreis.de). Despite the war in Ukraine, the immigration authorities are trying to address their concerns as quickly as possible. Registration, issuance of residence permits and delivery of documents for Ukrainian refugees will take place immediately at the back entrance to the Peter Paul Weinert Saal building in the region.

(press release from the district administration Westerwaldkreis)


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