Refugees with subsidiary protection will be allowed to bring relatives back to Germany as of August 1st. A corresponding change in the residence law was passed by the federal cabinet in Berlin on Wednesday.
Currently, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection – many of whom are civil war refugees from Syria – are only allowed to bring relatives to Germany in rare cases. But the new rules would allow for their spouses and underage children of all people with this status to apply to join them.
People granted full refugee status are already allowed to bring their families to Germany.
The change to the law will now be put to debate in the Bundestag (German parliament) and is likely to meet fierce resistance from the opposition.
On the left side of the political spectrum, the Green party and Die Linke feel that the law change does not go far enough, as it limits the monthly arrivals to 1,000 relatives.
Meanwhile, the anti-Islam Alternative for Germany (AfD) wants to abolish family reunification for refugees altogether. The pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) want to maintain the status quo, which allows for reunifications in exceptional circumstances.
Subsidiary protection is lower than full refugee status. Germany has been increasingly granting it to refugees from Syria who cannot prove that they are individually targeted by government persecution.
In 2015 subsidiary protection was almost never granted. Of a total 282,726 cases which were decided that year, a minuscule 1,707 fell under this category. But in 2016 that number jumped to 153,700, which was 22.1 percent of all cases.
Parents of unaccompanied minor refugees living in Germany with this temporary status could also apply for a visa under the new rule change.
At present, 26,000 applications for subsidiary protection have already been submitted to German missions abroad.
The coalition also wants to exclude terrorist sympathizers, agitators or so-called “dangerous persons” from family reunification in its bill. However, exceptions should also be possible here for people who now credibly distance themselves from their previous actions.