When the first people fled from Ukraine to Germany after the attack on their homeland, the willingness to help was great. But reports quickly filtered through from the Polish border that this willingness to help stopped at skin colour, that refugees from third countries who also had to flee Ukraine were turned back at the border. And if they did make it, they had to fear being deported in Germany if their country of origin was classified as “safe”.
As the regional student representation, we were approached by students at that time, some of them shortly before graduation, who now had to fear for the continuation of their studies. It is of no use to these students if their “country of origin” is safe, if studying there is too expensive or too uncertain, or if their degree programme does not even exist.
What to do? First of all, the residence permit for these refugees was secured with the UkraineAufenthÜV. However, this expired on 31 August this year and despite a further extension, third-country nationals who have been in Germany for more than 90 days now have to fear deportation.
But there are options:
Most students who have fled and are interested in studying must first complete a preparatory course before they can begin their studies. As a rule, this does not count as studying, which is why they do not receive a residence permit for the purpose of studying according to §16b AufenthG. However, the foreigners authorities can exercise discretion here and recognise the study preparation as part of the studies.
Another major obstacle for foreign students in Germany is the obligation to open a blocked account into which €11,208 must be paid annually. Here, relief would be possible and urgently needed.
The simplest and most sensible solution, however, would be to apply §23 Paragraph 1 AufenthG. This states: “The supreme Land authority may, for reasons of international law or humanitarian reasons or in order to safeguard the political interests of the Federal Republic of Germany, order that a residence permit be granted to foreigners from certain states or otherwise to certain groups of foreigners.”
Thus, according to Art.7 of Directive 2001/55/EC, students from third countries to complete their studies in Germany could be granted a similar protection status as displaced Ukrainian students, “provided they were displaced for the same reasons and come from the same country or region of origin.” According to § 8(2) S. 1. BAföG, a residence title according to §23(1) entitles the holder to educational grants, which would also clarify the financing of studies.
Our Saxon Ministry of the Interior could apply this paragraph in agreement with the Federal Ministry of the Interior and thus create a perspective for all the third-country nationals who have fled Ukraine to stay. After all, they were displaced by the war of aggression on Ukraine just like their Ukrainian fellow citizens.
As the national student representation, we made several attempts to get a national reception programme rolling. However, this failed each time due to the lack of will on the part of the ministries. Now we are calling for such a national admission programme again – because it is not only students from Ukraine who are third-country nationals who currently have to fear for their existence! That is why we have joined the alliance “Saxony must accept” – for a solidary and cosmopolitan Saxony in which we want to study and live!
text by: KSS