German government aims to streamline returns of irregular migrants to Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Georgia

People on the streets of Kairouan, Tunisia ©istockphoto, IdealPhoto30

The Cabinet of Germany’s federal government has decided to add Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Georgia to the category of “safe countries of origin”, which makes it easier to return irregular migrants who have not obtained a right to stay in Germany. Before this change can be signed into law, it still needs to pass Germany’s two legislative bodies – the Bundesrat and the Bundestag. Find out more about the implications and what happens if these bodies decide in favor of the law.

What are safe countries of origin?

Germany can consider countries as safe when citizens of these states face a low risk of systematic prosecution, torture, humiliating jurisdiction or violence in conflicts. In its coalition agreement, the German government decided to classify those countries as safe whose citizens have only rarely received refugee status or another right to stay when applying for asylum in Germany. This is the case for Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Georgia: less than five per cent of applicants from these countries have been entitled to asylum or another form of protection in past years.

What are the consequences?

When citizens of safe countries of origin apply for asylum in Germany, they need to explain in substantial detail why and how they require protection according to the law. If the explanation is not sufficient, the application will be denied as „obviously unjustified“. The application procedure will be finalized in an accelerated process, which may end with the forced return of the irregular migrants to the country of origin in case he or she does not return voluntarily.

Find out more information about who is allowed to stay in Germany at

City of Chiatura, Georgia ©istockphoto, Holger Dürkop

Are there any exemptions from the new rules?

Of course, the classification of “safe countries of origin” does not alter Germany’s commitment to the protection of refugees from these countries – those who require protection under the Geneva Convention and Germany’s laws will be granted a right to stay in Germany. The government is working on providing special legal advice for especially vulnerable groups of refugees from these countries. Also, asylum applicants from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Georgia who currently work in Germany may continue to work until their asylum application has been decided.

Are there already safe countries of origin and might there be more?

All European Union countries are considered safe countries of origin, as well as eight other countries: Ghana, Senegal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. Other countries might be added to this category in the future.

Published: 07/30/2018

Last updated: 02.08.2018 Published: 30.07.2018