The integration of the large number of refugees who arrived in 2015 and 2016 has become a key policy topic in Germany. Managing this challenge requires joint efforts on all governmental levels (federal, the Länder and the communes), and of the citizens and immigrants. In May 2016, the German government adopted a joint integration policy. The aim is the integration of immigrants living in Germany. The joint integration strategy touches the responsibility of almost all the federal ministries including language instruction, education and professional training, employment and social integration.
The main instrument for general language knowledge is the “integration course”. It usually consists of 700 hours of instruction. It is divided into a basic and intermediate language course and an orientation course. The basic and intermediate language levels, include 600 hours of instruction on different levels, of which 300 hours can be repeated once. The “orientation course”, which follows the language course, consists of 100 hours covering the living conditions in Germany.
If necessary, integration courses can be set up for groups with special needs. These courses consist of 900 hours of language instruction:
- Literacy course: for participants who do not have (sufficient) reading or writing skills in any language;
- Course for people learning a second alphabet: for participants who read and write using an alphabet other than the Latin alphabet;
- Youth integration course: for those no longer required to attend school under 27 years;
- Courses for parents/women who are unable to attend an integration course for family or cultural reasons;
- Remedial course for participants with special language-learning needs;
- Intensive course for those who could achieve the course quicker;
- Course for persons with disabilities.
With a language competence of level B1 according to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) participants on an integration course should manage everyday situations.
Migration counselling guides adult immigrants through the integration process using systematic, professional case management. It should enable immigrants to act independently and to refer them to relevant social services as soon as possible.
The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees is the Centre of Excellence for Asylum, Migration and Integration in Germany. It is an executive agency of the Federal Ministry of the Interior having its headquarters in Nuremberg. With its decentralized centers, it is in direct contact with all players in refugee protection and integration work.
The Federal Office is responsible for processing asylum applications and coordinates the promotion of integration at national level.
Labour market access
Persons granted asylum, refugees under the Geneva Refugee Convention and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection have unrestricted access to the labour market. The same also applies to those who do not come to Germany as asylum seekers, but for example via federal level humanitarian admission programmes or by means of an admission for international law, humanitarian or political reasons with an admission confirmation from the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
These persons are entitled to means tested benefits and a variety of labour market services like vocational training.
In July 2016 the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has introduced special job-related German language courses. These offer a combination of labour market measures and German language courses. Job-related language learning builds up on the integration courses and helps participants to learn German from level B1 to C2 for languages in order to improve opportunities on the labour market.
Job-related German language are organised in modules. Special classes address specific occupational groups requiring a specific proficiency level. A special module for participants who have not achieved level B1 despite having attended an integration course helps to link these special courses with the integration course. These modules consider individual linguistic needs, and language learning can be combined with vocational training or employment.