BAMF - Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge - The personal interview

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The personal interview

The personal interview is the applicant’s most important appointment within his/her asylum procedure. Advice is therefore available when it comes to preparing for the interview from organisations providing aid, charitable associations or municipal facilities. It is also possible to consult the Asylum Social Counselling service.

It is the "decision-makers" who are responsible for holding the interviews at the Federal Office. They invite applicants to attend this appointment, where an interpreter will also be on hand.

Applicants absolutely must attend this appointment, or they must state in good time and in writing why they are unable to attend on that particular day. If they do not do so, their asylum application can be turned down or the proceedings discontinued without them being questioned once more as to the reasons why they failed to attend.

If the individual is ill on that day or is likely to arrive late, this needs to be notified by telephone on the very same day, and the doctor’s note needs to be forwarded by post in case of illness.

If the individual is unable to attend at the time stated in the summons because of the considerable distance to be travelled, and is therefore likely to arrive late, it is necessary to state in writing or telephone at the latest one day in advance the earliest time at which it is possible to attend an appointment. This enables the staff on the spot to plan their appointments better.

The interview

The interviews are not public, but they may be attended by an attorney or by a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and by a guardian in the case of unaccompanied minors. It is fundamentally possible for another person enjoying the applicant’s trust to attend in order to provide assistance. This individual must be able to identify himself or herself, and may not personally be in the asylum procedure, or their hearing date may not be in the immediate future.

The objective of the interviews is to learn of the individual reasons for flight, to obtain more information and to resolve contradictions. To this end, the decision-makers are familiar with the circumstances prevailing in the applicants’ countries of origin. How long an interview lasts very much depends on the persecution which an individual has suffered and on the applicants themselves.

Applicants are afforded sufficient time during the interview to present their respective reasons for taking flight. They describe their biographies and situations, tell of their travel route and of the persecution which they have personally suffered. They also assess what would await them were they to return to their country of origin. They are obliged to state the truth at all times and to provide any evidence which they have been able to obtain. These may be photographs, documents from the police or other authorities, and possibly also medical reports. The Federal Office may not be able to take facts, incidents or documents which applicants are unable to state or present during the interview into account later or in court proceedings.

The descriptions are interpreted and minutes are taken, and are then translated back for the applicant after the interview. This enables them to add to what they have said, or to make corrections. They are then presented with the minutes for them to approve them by signing them.
The appointment is postponed should problems of understanding or health-related problems occur during the interview.

display as attention: Important information

Participation by the UNHCR

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) monitors in order to ensure compliance with the Geneva Refugee Convention. If the UNHCR requests information for his work, the Federal Office provides it. The UNHCR may also attend interviews in the asylum procedure. He may furthermore inspect the decisions of the Federal Office and their reasoning in order to perform his tasks.

Special circumstances

If it is necessary for the applicant for personal reasons, where possible the interview can be carried out or continued by a person of the same sex, and an interpreter of the same sex can attend.

The Federal Office has specially-trained decision-makers dealing with gender-specific human rights violations such as rape, other types of sexual abuse and threat of genital mutilation.

This also applies to victims of torture and trauma or to victims of human trafficking, as well as to unaccompanied minors. The Federal Office furthermore has specially-trained specially-commissioned case-officers to deal with this (see Decision-makers).

Applicants should express such a wish as early as possible prior to the interview, ideally as soon as they file their application.

Relocation and changes of address

If applicants move house during the asylum procedure, or if they are relocated to a different accommodation, they need to inform the Federal Office, the immigration authority and possibly also the court, of their new address. This is vital as letters are always sent to the address most recently notified to the authority, and are considered to have been delivered there.

Hervorhebung_Gesetzgebung: Background information

Identity checks

Should there be any doubts as to applicants’ identity, the Federal Office carries out an examination using language and text analyses with the involvement of language experts. Such cases are reported to the Federal Office’s own Security division. The division works closely with the Joint Extremism and Counter-Terrorism Centre (GETZ) and with the Joint Counter-Terrorism Centre (GTAZ). Secondly, it carries out an automatic data comparison with the security authorities within the bounds imposed by privacy laws.

Hervorhebung_Gesetzgebung: The legal basis

The legal basis for the implementation of the interview can be found in sections 24 and 25 of the Asylum Act (AsylG).

  • Obligations incumbent on the Federal Office in accordance with section 24 subs. 1 sentence 3 of the Asylum Act: The Federal Office is obliged to interview the individual in person.
  • Interview in accordance with section 25 subs. 1 of the Asylum Act: During the personal hearing, the individual must personally submit the facts which justify his/her fear of persecution or the danger of the threat of serious injury, and must provide the requisite information. The necessary information includes places of residence, transit routes, stays in other countries and whether asylum proceedings have already been initiated or implemented in other states or in Germany.
    They must also state all other facts and circumstances opposing deportation (section 25 subs. 2 of the Asylum Act).
    If these facts and circumstances are submitted late, they do not need to be taken into consideration (section 25 subs. 3 of the Asylum Act).

The legal basis for the identity checks is constituted by section 16 of the Asylum Act

Asylum Act

Date 9 December 2016

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