Your age is very important in Austria. People older than 18 are called adults (”Erwachsene”).
People who are under 18 are children or teenagers. These people are called minors (”Minderjährige”).
Children and teenagers are treated differently to adults.
What happens if you do not know how old you are? Or, what happens if you told the police how old you are, but the BFA wants to check if you were right?
This is called “age assessment”.
For the age assessment, a doctor will take a close look at you. The doctor will X-Ray your hand, so that he can see your bones. The doctor will also check your teeth and your collarbone.
The doctor will say whether you are younger than 18 or older than 18.
Asylum is where a country (Austria) offers to protect you from a danger or threat in your country. This danger or threat is called “persecution”.
A country can only offer protection from certain kinds of dangers or threats.
- You belong to an ethnic group in your country, which is in danger;
- You are not allowed to practise your religion in your country. You are in danger because of your religion and you genuinely fear being persecuted;
- You are in danger because of your nationality;
- You are in danger in your country because you belong to a particular social group (e.g. your family, your religion, you are gay).
- You are in danger because of your political opinion.
An authority is a State institution. Authorities act on behalf of the State.
All authorities must follow Austrian law.
People working for the authorities must follow Austrian law.
Did you get an official letter? It always says who the competent authority is. You can call them or go there if you have questions.
The Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum (BFA) is the most important authority in the asylum procedure.
Are you an asylum seeker? Then you will get help or benefits from Austria. This help is called “basic care”.
For example, Austria will provide a place to stay. You can receive counselling, food, clothes and school materials. You will also receive tickets for public transport so that you can attend appointments with the authorities. You will not have to pay if you go to the hospital. What happens if you want to move into a apartment, for example with friends or family? You are allowed to do so, but you will receive less money from Austria and will need help from friends.
Attention: Do you want to move? Let the authorities know before you move!
If the authorities do not allow you to live somewhere else, you will have to stay where you are. If the authorities say no and you move anyway – you will no longer get basic care.
Certificate of registration
The “certificate of registration” (“Meldezettel”) shows where you live. This is your home address. Your post will be sent there. You should register your address at the registration office. You will be given a “certificate of registration” (“Meldezettel”).
If the BFA is considering your asylum application, it is very important that your “certificate of registration” (“Meldezettel”) has the correct address and is up to date.
Have you moved house? Do you have a new address? Go to the closest registration office and inform them about your new address. They will give you a new “certificate of registration” (“Meldezettel”).
The “certificate of registration (“Meldezettel”) is very important. The BFA will send its decision letter to your address. If you forget to tell the registration office that you moved house, the BFA will send the decision letter to your old address. It can be very bad if you do not receive the BFA’s decision letter. It can also be very bad if or you do not read the BFA’s decision letter in time and you miss an appointment.
The authorities will reach their decision in a decision letter.
The decision letter has many important parts, but the “decision section” (“Spruch”) is especially important. The authorities’ main decision is in the decision section.
For example: the decision section will say, whether or not you have been given asylum, subsidiary protection or the right to remain. The decision section is written in a language you understand.
Decision letter or notice
Authorities tell you their decision in a decision letter (“Bescheid”).
In the asylum procedure, the BFA decides on your asylum application.
The BFA decides with a decision letter.
The BFA will send the decision letter by post to your official address. You should make sure you have an official registered address in Austria. You should always tell the registration office, if you change your address.
The decision letter has many important parts, but the “decision section” (“Spruch”) is especially important. The “Spruch” is the BFA’s main decision.
The “appeal information” (”Rechtsmittelbelehrung”) is also very important:
The appeal information tells you, how you and your lawyer can appeal the decision.
The appeal information also tells you how much time you have to appeal.
Read the decision letter carefully! Take the decision letter to your legal adviser (“Rechtsberater”) immediately.
Your asylum application is unsuccessful.
You are not given asylum, subsidiary protection or a right to remain.
You and your lawyer file an appeal.
The court also refuses to give you asylum.
You have to leave Austria.
If you do not leave Austria, the police can come and pick you up.
The police can force you to leave Austria, even if you do not want to leave.
The police takes you to your home country.
This is called “deportation”.
What happens if Austria has decided to deport you and the authorities think that you will hide or run away? In this case, the police can take you into “detention” (“Schubhaft”). You will be held in a detention centre. This way, the authorities can make sure you can be deported.
The police are not allowed to take every person into detention. The police can only detain you if they think you will hide or run away. This is called “risk of absconding” (“Fluchtgefahr”).
What if you disagree with the decision to detain you? You can appeal to the court (BVwG).
This is called “appeal against the pre-deportation detention” (“Schubhaftbeschwerde”). You have the right to legal advice during your appeal.
Federal Administrative Court (BVwG)
What happens if the BFA does not give you asylum? You can appeal to the court.
The means the court will check the BFA’s decision.
You and your legal adviser (“Rechtsberater”) can write an appeal.
The court (“Bundesverwaltungsgericht”, short: BVwG) will read the BFA’s decision and your appeal. A judge at the BVwG will decide. Then you will receive the judge’s decision.
Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum (BFA)
The Federal Office of Immigration and Asylum (“Bundesamt für Fremdenwesen und Asyl” short: BFA) is the most important authority in the asylum procedure.
The BFA is a State institution.
The BFA must follow Austrian law.
People working for the BFA must follow Austrian law.
The BFA will decides on our asylum application.
The decision is written in a decision letter and sent to you by post.
Fines and paying by instalments
Have you broken the law? Have you received a fine?
If yes, you will have to pay money.
What if you do not have enough money and you cannot pay the fine immediately? You can ask: Can I pay the fine in smaller parts? Can I pay a little bit every month? This is called paying by “instalment” (“Ratenzahlung”).
Do you want to pay by instalments? Tell the authorities who gave you the fine as soon as possible.
Attention: If you do not pay the fine or you cannot pay the fine, you will be sent to prison instead.
Fines and paying later
Have you broken the law and received a fine? You will have to pay money. What if you do not have enough money at the moment and you cannot pay the fine immediately. Then you can ask: Can I pay the fine later?
If the authorities allow you to pay your fine later (“Stundung”).
Do you want to pay later (“Stundung”)? Tell the authorities who gave you the fine as soon as possible.
Your legal adviser (“Rechtsberater”) will give you information about the asylum procedure. Your legal adviser will also help you if you need to appeal.
When you receive the BFA’s decision letter, you will also receive an “information sheet” (“Verfahrensanordndung”). This information sheet will tell you where to go to get legal advice.
You should go either to Verein Menschenrechte Österreich or to ARGE Rechtsberatung (Diakonie and Volkshilfe). Go to your legal adviser (“Rechtsberater”) as soon as you get the information sheet.
Austria can say: You have to go back to your home country! This is called “return decision” (“Rückkehrentscheidung”). You will receive the return decision by post.
You will receive a return decision if Austria refuses to give you asylum, subsidiary protection or the right to remain.
You have to comply with the decision, when you can no longer appeal.
You have been given asylum or subsidiary protection.
The Austrian authorities can end your right to asylum. This is called “revocation” or “cancellation”.
Reasons for revocation are, for example:
- You move to another country and you do not live in Austria anymore.
- You have committed a crime. You are a danger to the public.
- You are no longer in danger in your home country and you would be safe if you returned there.
This means: You no longer need asylum in Austria
Right of appeal
You have received the BFAs decision letter by post. What if you do not agree with the decision?
You can find information on your right of appeal (“Rechtsmittelbelehrung”) at the very end of the notice.
The information on your right of appeal will tell you what you can do to challenge the decision.
It tells you how much time you have to send an appeal to the court.
It is written in a language that you can understand.
Right to remain
What happens if you are not given asylum or subsidiary protection?
Have you been in Austria for a long time? Are you very well integrated into the Austrian society? You may be able to stay in Austria. This is called “right to remain”.
Status of asylum seeker
You have applied for protection (=asylum) in Austria. You are waiting.
You are now an asylum seeker. This is your “status”.
As an asylum seeker you have rights:
You can stay in Austria until you know, whether Austria has accepted your application for asylum.
You can receive basic care, if you need it.
As an asylum seeker you also have obligations. (The word “obligation” means that you must do something):
For example, you must attend your appointments at the BFA or the court (the BVwG).
You have the status of an asylum seeker until Austria has reached a decision on your asylum application.
What if you are not given asylum?
But Austria knows: It is dangerous for you to return to your home country.
In this case, you will be given “subsidiary protection” in Austria.
Subsidiary protection means: You can stay in Austria for a limited period of time.
For example: You are not at risk personally, but there is war in your country.
You will not be sent back to your country. You will be granted subsidiary protection.
You can stay in Austria for one year. After one year, Austria will check if the war is over.
Summons and interview
The BFA needs information from you. The BFA wants to talk to you about your fear of persecution and why you left your country. The BFA will send you an invitation to an interview. The invitation is called a “summons” (“Ladung”).
Does the BFA know where you live? The BFA needs to know your address. Check your post box every day.
Read the invitation (“Ladung”) carefully. When is the interview? The interview is called “Einvernahme”. It is very important. Make sure you are on time for your interview. Be there 10 minutes early.
What if the BFA has decided that you are not allowed to stay in Austria? The Police can come and send you to your home country.
What if you do not want to leave Austria? The police can send you back anyway. This is called deportation.
How can you challenge the deportation? You can write an appeal. This means the court will check the BFA’s decision.
A legal adviser (”Rechtsberater”) or a lawyer can help you write your appeal.
This appeal has a “suspensive effect”. This means: You are not deported right now.
The deportation is delayed. You can stay in Austria until the court reaches a decision about your appeal.
Time limit for appeal
The BFA has decided not to give you asylum. Do you think the decision is wrong? You can ask the court to check it. You will need to write an appeal.
Your legal adviser (“Rechtsberater”) will help you. The BFA will give you a time limit for writing your appeal. This is called “time limit for appeal” (“Rechtsmittelfrist”).
You must write your appeal within this time period.
After this period, you cannot appeal anymore.
Do you want to know how much time you have to write an appeal?
You can find the time limit (“Rechtsmittelfrist”) at the very end of the notice. The time limit starts when you receive the letter from the postman. If you are not at home, the postman will take the letter to the post office. If this happens, the time limit will start when the postman has delivered the letter to the post office. You will find a yellow piece of paper in your post box telling you to pick the BFA’s decision letter up from the post office.
Unaccompanied minors (“unbegleitete minderjährige Flüchtlinge” – UMF) are asylum seekers who are younger than 18 and who are in Austria without an adult.
UMF are children and teenagers who fled their country and are on their own.
For example: A girl is 16 years old and came to Austria without her parents or other grown-up relatives (uncle, aunt, older siblings, grandmother, grandfather). She is a UMF.
For example: Two brothers, 12 and 15, who came to Austria without their parents or other grown-up relatives. They are UMF.
For example: A teenager is 17 years old and came to Austria with his uncle. The uncle is no longer in Austria or he died. The teenager is alone in Austria now. He is a UMF.
You have applied for asylum and are waiting for a decision. But you do not want to wait any longer, you want to go back home. Or, you have received a return decision and you can no longer appeal. You want to leave independently. Tell your legal adviser (“Rechtsberater”) that you want to go home.
Austria will help you with your journey. For example, Austria will pay for your flight.
This kind of help is called “return assistance”. You get all the information you need from the “return adviser” (“Rückkehrberatung”).
Attention: If you go back to your home country, it will stop your asylum procedure. You will not be given asylum in Austria. Even if you return home for just 3 days or 2 weeks, it does not matter, your asylum procedure will be stopped and you will not be given asylum.