Moving Cities
Inspiring Approaches

BremenAn end to the endless loop of suspended deportation – improving access to long-term residency

What is inspiring?

In order to overcome the endless loop of suspended deportation through temporary permits, which leaves thousands of refugees uncertain about their long-term residence prospects, Bremen introduced the “Bremen Decree” in 2010. Young migrants can now apply for a residence permit much earlier under certain conditions.


How does it operate?

Since 2010, migrants in Bremen have been able to apply for a residence permit on humanitarian grounds if they fulfil certain criteria. They can qualify for this if they can provide proof of four years of schooling in Germany, language skills and a clean criminal record. This has been unattainable for young migrants in similar circumstances in other federal states, and Bremen’s approach thus constitutes a major step forward. It was also the first model for a right of residence for those trapped in the endless loop of temporary residence permits without a one-time cut-off date.

What is the outcome?

In October 2020, Bremen went a step further, allowing those with a tolerated stay permit (“Duldung”) who have made considerable progress towards integration to be granted a residence permit. Young adults up to the age of 26 can now also be granted a residence permit after four years of residence – if they can show that they have:

  • sufficient knowledge of German (level B1) or adequate knowledge of German (level A2) and a “satisfactory” grade in German on a school report from a German school,

  • successfully attended a German school for four years,

  • acquired a secondary school qualification, or

  • a place on a vocational training programme, a university degree programme, or a state-subsidised pre-vocational training scheme.

Bremen has once again taken the lead with its new state decree. “It applies to unaccompanied minors and guarantees them a right to remain if they finish school”, says Markus Saxinger of the Bremen Integration Network. “This practice does not exist anywhere else.”

What is new in 2023?

The Bremen Senate initiated the pilot project "Clearingstelle" in May 2023. It offers support to people who have been staying in the state of Bremen for at least two years without valid residence documents. Without the risk for those affected of having to disclose themselves to the migration authorities, the concrete living circumstances are examined in the counselling for possibilities of officially remaining in the state of Bremen. The service is considered unique and the first of its kind in Germany. It is implemented by the German Red Cross.

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