Austria: Tightening up asylum; What is legally possible


The Krone Newspaper reports, the Austrian Government is going to tightening the rule for the family reunification of refugees in Austria. In order to stop the massive influx of refugees, more and more parties want to tighten up the regulations. This is not always easy in asylum matters, as much is regulated at EU level or stipulated by the Refugee Convention. The ‘Krone’ asked European law expert Walter Obwexer what is possible with the political proposals on the table.

According to Obwexer, family reunification is laid down in an EU directive and this certainly provides scope for tightening up the rules. According to Obwexer, it would be possible to introduce the self-sufficiency requirement (income and housing) proposed by the ÖVP as a prerequisite for family reunification. The only restriction ia rhR,; this would only be possible for adults. If minors bring their parents, the ability to support themselves cannot logically be a prerequisite.

Red-White-Red Card as a model

The ÖVP has a similar rule in mind to the Red-White-Red Card for labour migrants. For family reunification, they need proof of an income of between 1,200 and around 2,000 euros and proof of a suitable housing. Persons entitled to asylum can currently apply for family reunification within three months of receiving their status and do not have to prove their ability to support themselves.

The issue of family reunification is the subject of particularly heated debate in the city of Vienna, where the education system is in danger of collapsing as 350 new pupils arrive every month without any knowledge of German. The Vienna Social Democrates (SPÖ) wants to solve the problem by distributing the refugees among all the federal states and is therefore calling for compulsory residency. But the ÖVP rejects this proposal and without the People’s Party, nothing works at state level.

Outcry from teachers in Vienna

Teachers’ unionist Thomas Krebs is even calling for a “suspension of family reunification”. But this call is rejected by integration state minister Christoph Wiederkehr from the NEOS as anti human right.

DNA tests will slow down procedures

The stricter document checks and increased DNA testing desired by the ÖVP are relatively easy to implement. All that is needed is to amend an existing regulation. Chancellor Karl Nehammer has announced “this will happen as early as next week”. The NEOS and FPÖ have criticised this plan. They spoke of ‘populism and deception’ of the population, as DNA tests are already possible. However, if they are used more frequently, as planned by the ÖVP, this will lead to delays in procedures and therefore also to a slowdown in family reunification.