Can Syrian refugees work in Europe?

Syrian refugees

There has been a civil war in Syria since 2011. As a result, according to the UNHCR, around 6.7 million people have left the country (as of January 2019). Most of them are in the bordering states: Turkey (3.7 million), Lebanon (916,000) and Jordan (655,000). More than a million Syrian war refugees have come to Europe - around 770,000 of them live in Germany.

How many Syrians have come to Germany since the beginning of the civil war?

Since 2014, Syrians have been the largest group among those seeking protection in Germany. A total of around 790,000 BAMF, Syrian migrants in Germany as a significant new population group, page 3, Asylum Business Report 12/2018 (initial applications), current figures on asylum December 2019 (initial applications) and family reunions 2018-2019 have fled to Germany since 2010 (as of December 2019 SourceBAMF, Syrian migrants in Germany as a significant new population group, page 3, Annual Asylum Report 12/2018 (initial applications), current figures on asylum December 2019 (initial applications) and family reunions 2018-2019

How do the Syrian refugees get to Europe?

Most Syrians come via the so-called Eastern Mediterranean Route, which leads to Greece via Turkey. Around 27 percent of all asylum seekers who reached the European Union via the Eastern Mediterranean route in 2019 were of Syrian nationality, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

Between 2015 and 2016, many Syrian refugees reached Germany via the so-called Balkan route: In 2015, according to information from Frontex, West Balkan Quarterly Report Q2 2016, page 16 by the border protection agency Frontex, around 710,000 of them were registered on the route. Since the route was closed in spring 2016, the number of Syrian refugees who were picked up here has fallen sharply: in 2016 and 2017 there were only around 2,000 people per year. In 2018 there were around 14,000 people. QuelleFrontex, Risk Analysis for 2019, page 16

Only a few thousand Syrian citizens were brought to Germany as part of the resettlement plan of the EU or the admission orders of the federal and state governments.

Who are the Syrian refugees?

Gender distribution: Around 40 percent of Syrian citizens in Germany are women. The proportion of women among Syrian refugees has clearly risen in recent years: More than half of all Syrian asylum seekers in 2019 were women. SourceBAMF, Syrian migrants in Germany as a significant new population group, 2019, page 3; BAMF, The Federal Office in Figures (2019), page 21

Age: The average age of Syrian asylum seekers is 24.2 years. Syrian refugees are thus significantly younger than other immigrant groups (average: 37.7 years). SourceBAMF, Syrian migrants in Germany as a significant new population group, 2019, page 3

Language and religion: A little more than half of the Syrians who applied for asylum in Germany in 2019 were Arabic-speaking. 31 percent belonged to the Kurdish minority. Around 84 percent were Muslim, 1.7 percent Christians and 1.5 percent Yazidis. Source Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, The Federal Office in Figures 2019, pages 23 and 24

Educational qualification: According to a representative study, Syrian refugees have above-average school qualifications compared to other refugee groups. For the study, the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) and the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) interviewed refugees who had applied for asylum in Germany between 2013 and 2016.

  • 71 percent of Syrian refugees have a school leaving certificate,
  • 32 percent have completed the upper level (comprehensive school, grammar school) or a (specialist) Abitur or an apprenticeship.
  • and eight percent haven't attended school.

36 percent of the Syrians surveyed have applied for their qualifications to be recognized. SourceIAB, BAMF, SOEP, Refugee Survey 2016, pages 31 and 49

Labor market: According to the Federal Employment Agency, around 131,600 Syrians are employed. The figures relate to all Syrian citizens in Germany, not just to refugees (as of December 2019). Around 260,200 Syrians were registered with the employment agency as "job seekers" at the end of 2019. 116,600 of them are considered "unemployed" - that is, they are available for the labor market. Source Federal Employment Agency, employees by nationality (December 2019), unemployed and jobseekers by nationality (December 2019)

Family reunification for Syrians

Since 2015, around 136,000 Syrian citizens have received a family reunification visa in order to move to their relatives in Germany (as of December 2019)

Since mid-2016, many Syrian refugees have received so-called "subsidiary protection". There are restrictions on family reunification for them: between March 2016 and July 2018 they were not allowed to bring any relatives to Germany. This has been allowed again since August 1st - but only for 1,000 people per month. SourceBundestags-Drucksache 18/11473, p. 6; Section 36a of the Residence Act; Federal Government (2018): "New rules for family reunification"

Figures from the Federal Foreign Office show that many relatives of those entitled to subsidiary protection are still waiting for family reunification: At the end of 2019, the diplomatic branches in Lebanon, Jordan, Northern Iraq, Turkey and Egypt received around 22,000 appointment requests. The actual number of applicants is probably lower because some people are registered multiple times. to apply for a corresponding visa (as of February 2020). Most of the applicants are Syrian citizens. Source Bundestag plenary protocol 19/139, p. 17412, own calculation

How many Syrians does the federal government take in per quota?

As part of the resettlement programs of the EU and the 1: 1 mechanism of the EU-Turkey Declaration, around 11,800 Syrians from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon were admitted to Germany between 2016 and 2020 (as of March 2020). QuelleCaritas, Resettlement Program - Current Admissions (2020)

In 2013 and 2014, the federal government took in a total of 20,000 Syrian refugees as part of three programs Bundestag printed paper 18/5799, page 6 f .; own calculation.

In addition to these quotas, 15 federal states have their own humanitarian admission programs, within the framework of which additional visas have been issued. Only people whose relatives have been in Germany since January 1, 2013 and who have a German passport or a regular residence permit can move in this way. The relatives must confirm with a letter of commitment that they are willing and able to bear all living expenses.

News on the subject: Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees Admission program for Syrians gets underway

A year ago the federal government decided to set up an admission program for Syrian refugees from the crisis area. Of the quota for 10,000 asylum seekers, only 4,000 have entered the country so far - most of them in the last few weeks. In addition, the federal states have started their own admission programs and want to continue them. The media service has summarized the current status for you.

Syrian refugee application numbers far exceed quotas

Germany has so far promised to accept a quota of 10,000 refugees from Syria. The registration deadline for Syrians living in Germany to apply for the admission of relatives from the crisis region expired on February 28. However, the number of applications far exceeds the quotas distributed across the federal states. In Lower Saxony alone, around 3,200 requests for admission were made for only 470 places. Refugee organizations criticize the system.

Position migration researcher "We could do more for Syrians!"

The worst humanitarian crisis in decades - this is how the United Nations describes the refugee disaster in the Syrian civil war. 2.4 million Syrians seek protection abroad. But Europe and Germany are having a hard time accepting these people. Only 13,000 refugees are supposed to find protection in the entire European Union and so far only a fraction of them have arrived. There are European laws that prescribe more generous aid measures.

about us

MEDIA SERVICE INTEGRATION is a service platform for journalists.

On our website we offer facts, figures and background reports on migration, integration and asylum in Germany. We work closely with scientists and provide experts for reporting. Subscribe to our newsletter and receive the latest dates on our topics.

MEDIENDIENST INTEGRATION is a project of the “Rat für Migration e.V.”, a nationwide association of migration researchers. He works independently and wants to intensify the exchange between science and the media.