Organizational failure: conditions at the immigration office have been unbearable for three years

The city has not been able to control the situation at the immigration office since 2020. Naturalization applications take 12-18 months to process, and sometimes may take longer. File backlogs of up to 4,000 files are still not acceptable. The city lacks the necessary respect for applicants’ needs and interests.

The tasks in the immigration office are challenging, especially legally. The procedures for naturalization, obtaining residency and work permits must be handled in a legally secure manner. On the other hand, timely, efficient and customer-oriented processing must also be ensured. Bochum wants to become a leader in modern city management. However, the Office of Foreigners shows that the city has not yet been able to meet its demands in this office.

The way the cases were handled was unacceptable

The way cases are handled at the immigration office is in many ways unacceptable. Appointments no longer work. From 6 in the morning, a line forms in front of the office, which opens only at 8 in the morning. Then the employees who are supposed to organize the wait ask what people are queuing up for. Those whose affairs do not seem urgent are sent home. According to the Internet, appointments can be booked online, but the city actually understands “online appointment assignment” as a button that calls the mail program and an appointment can be requested by e-mail (assigning appointments to foreigners). In theory, the status of ongoing actions can also be queried by e-mail or via the contact form. However, applicants rarely receive helpful answers, but instead receive an email saying that one should refrain from asking questions about the case due to the large volume of work. With processing times of over a year, the office is likely to be suffocated with case inquiries.

Unnecessary extra work

Very long processing times also mean that in residency proceedings, when the residency date expires, an application for a dummy certificate must be submitted in order to extend the right of residency until a decision is made on the actual request. For the Immigration Office, this also means additional procedures and additional work.

Another problem that Immigration Office clients complain about is that although Immigration Office staff are generally polite, some of them cannot speak English or refuse to communicate in English. For this reason, the Ruhr-Universität (RUB), for example, employs staff who escort foreign students, teachers and researchers on their way to the immigration office for translation there. In this way, part of the work that must be done by the immigration office is transferred to others.

Unbearable conditions also lead to formal complaints procedures, letters to the mayor, politicians and the press. Non-essential working time is also used to process these formalities, letters and acknowledgments from the municipality’s press office.

Applicants become insecure and live in the dark

Immigration office clients feel badly treated. Actions are not progressing. There is complete uncertainty about the status of the procedures, how long they will take and, in some cases, how they will end. When it comes to residence or work permits, such situations lead to fear of the future among applicants. They do not know when and how their lives will go on.

The communication is bad, there is a misunderstanding, and many of the procedural steps cannot be understood. People cannot accept their new job because the procedures at the immigration office are not progressing and the required work permit or residence permit is missing. Some employers are willing to accept delays caused by the immigration office. In other cases, there is no readiness. Guaranteed employment obligations are withdrawn. Businesses in the city lack skilled workers, and rapid recruitment at the immigration office fails. Clients are unstable, cannot understand why processing times are long and feel intimidated. Accordingly, there are unpleasant arguments between the applicants and city employees in the office. The unorganized “appointment” does the rest. Employees get frustrated with poor office organization.

The atmosphere in the office is bad. File jams result in a constant overload of work. Many employees want to leave. Positions are constantly vacant for months. Management has been able to replace employees who are not leaving smoothly with new employees. Because of the high volatility, new employees must be constantly trained. After three years in the immigration office, most of them lost patience. This condition is detrimental to employee motivation. Accordingly, the backlog can only be reduced from more than 5300 to 4000 files in 3 years (WAZ on May 4, 2021, WAZ on July 7, 2022).

Scandal: Even after 3 years, the administration cannot control the situation

The organizational failure of management exists in two ways. On the one hand, it begs the question of how this massive backlog of work happened in the first place. Although the Immigration Office was closed to the public for a few months in 2020 due to Corona, at the same time there was a budget for 2020 (the 2022 budget). Second, one wonders why it was not possible to end the chaos in three years. This circumstance in particular is unacceptable.

Develop the number of operations in the immigration office

There is a lack of respect for the interests of the applicants

The situation in the Immigration Office is an example that smooth and efficient service to the population is not the central goal of administrative organization, but the well-being of employees is of paramount importance. The mayor demands respect for employees on large posters throughout City Hall. Dealing with residents, as here at the Immigration Office, is sometimes not characterized by respect for applicants’ concerns. Treating people with respect means recognizing their needs and meeting their needs. However, both the processing times and the way we treat customers lack this respect.

Unbearable conditions must be ended immediately

If the management does not succeed in bringing an end to the situation in question within three years, then in addition to the incapacity, there is also a lack of will to do what is necessary to control the situation. In particular, it will be necessary in coordinated work, including on weekends, with the help of administrative staff who previously worked in the Immigration Office, and, if possible, with the assistance of employees of immigration offices in other cities of the Ruhr region, to clear up the majority of the backlog as quickly as possible maybe.

In the long run it seems necessary to increase the number of jobs in the immigration office. As long as it is not possible to fill the vacancies smoothly, a surplus of staff is required which can make up for the continuing shortfall of vacancies.

In order to prevent future backlogs, an early warning system should also be established to ensure that timely action is taken in the future if there are signs that the office is overburdened. It would also be beneficial to have available staff that can be quickly transferred from their current positions in the event of an emergency, in order to temporarily strengthen the Immigration Office. In addition, it is fundamentally necessary to check and improve all work processes. This can be done with the help of the audit office. Consideration should also be given to whether external management advice should be used.

Welcome culture shouldn’t be just a phrase

The current situation is also bad for the city’s image. Highly qualified people who come from all over the world to work, study or do research in Bochum, are prohibited from staying or working here due to non-functional conditions in the city bureaucracy. Given the current shortage of skilled workers, one would think that the city would make every effort to help people quickly and easily obtain a work permit, residence permit or naturalization. As well-organized and quick processing of applications at the Foreigners Office is also an important sign in terms of the welcoming culture of the city. On the other hand, bad experiences with the way the city administration works leave a lasting bad impression on the city.

In the end, the circumstances in the Immigration Bureau show that the administration has not yet grasped every where the city wants to be a leader in modern city management and that respecting the needs of the residents should be given the same priority as respecting the employees.

city ​​designers

Leave a Comment