The updated Country Report on Austria provides a detailed overview of developments in the asylum procedure, reception conditions and detention, as well as content of international protection.
Length of procedures: The 20-day period for the admissibility procedure was deleted and the in-merit procedure can be carried out during the admissibility procedure. Moreover, the extension of the decision period from 6 to 15 months for the Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum (BFA) and to 12 months for the Federal Administrative Court (BVwG) has expired on 31 May 2018. However, it still applies to proceedings that were pending in first instance or in Court at that time.
Appeal: In 2018, the appeal period had been shortened to 2 weeks for accelerated procedures and in cases in which the application for international protection has been refused and a return decision, along with an order to leave the territory, has been issued. However, the Constitutional Court recently overturned the shortening of the appeal period in several decisions, on the ground that it would be disproportionate to extend the decision-taking period of the authorities beyond 6 months, while asylum seekers can only make an appeal within 1 or 2 weeks.
Suspensive effect: An appeal has no suspensive effect in cases where an asylum seeker has attempted to mislead the Federal Office by providing false information or documents, by concealing important information or by withholding documents about his/her identity or nationality.
Detention of asylum seekers
Grounds for detention: The grounds for detention under the recast Reception Conditions Directive have been incorporated into Article 76 FPG, in compliance with the case law of the Administrative Court. Asylum applicants can be further detained in detention centres if, in addition to the risk of absconding, there is also a danger for public order and security within the meaning of Article 67 FPG. This is characterised as ‘an actual, present and significant danger’.
Basic care: Asylum seekers can be requested to contribute financially to the basic care they receive during the asylum procedure. The maximum amount of this contribution is set at 840€ per person, although asylum seekers should always keep at least 120€. They also have to contribute financially for their family members. Upon termination of the provision of basic care by the state, any difference between the actual costs incurred and the cash seized should be reimbursed.
Access to education: The previous legal obligation to grant access to German classes to asylum seekers who have a high recognition rate has been limited. They currently receive integration courses only depending on financial and organisational resources. Moreover, the responsibility in that regard has been shifted from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is in charge of integration issues.
Content of international protection
Citizenship: The waiting period to apply for a citizenship has been extended from 6 to 10 years for refugees. As a consequence, only one refugee obtained the Austrian citizenship in 2018.
Withdrawal of protection: A withdrawal procedure is initiated when a beneficiary of international protection entered his or her country of origin or applied for a passport from the country of origin, or if he or she travelled to a neighboring country of the country of origin.
Social benefits: In 2018, the High Court dealt with the restriction of the minimum wage in the different provinces. The regulation of the province of Lower Austria, which aimed at limiting the social benefits, was ruled unconstitutional. However, the regulation applicable in Vorarlberg, which is more flexible and allows for contributions in kind, was considered constitutional. The CJEU further considered that the reduced benefits that were granted to asylum seekers due to their temporary right of residence in Upper Austria were not compatible with the recast Qualification Directive. The Ministry of Social Affairs presented a draft of its Social Assistance Basic Law in November 2018, which has been criticised as it excludes beneficiaries of subsidiary protection from the social care system and it applies other substantive restrictions to refugees.
*This information was first published by AIDA managed by ECRE