Horst Seehofer

The Minister of Interior in Germany, Horst Seehofer, has called on the country’s government to register all data from internationals that remain in Germany in the Central Register of Foreign Nationals, (“Ausländerzentralregister,” or AZR).

Seehofer believes that his proposal “speeds up the asylum procedures and protects of misuse and identity deceit,” while “the reform was a long-overdue step on the path toward a modern administration,” GermanyVisa.org reports.

All relevant documents provided from internationals, including scanned ID’s asylum decisions as well as other required data, would be saved by the AZR register.

The Minister of Interior’s cabinet’ plan has been backed by many lawmakers who think that saving internationals’ given information in a central location would ease many procedures, such as having to provide the required data to different competent authorities several times.

According to them, it would also help internationals avoid the additional requirements to present documents at the local foreigners’ office when wishing to move to a different municipality.

Germany’s government enacted a draft law from the country’s Ministry of Interior that would permit the federal government and 16 federal states and municipalities to have access to foreigners’ data in Germany through the Central Register of Foreign Nationals.

Currently, AZR takes care of data provided by internationals who have lived previously in Germany and those who live there at present. The data is administered by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

Although AZR currently keeps some information, such as fingerprints from an asylum application, most of the data is stored by one of 600 local foreigners’ offices in the country.

However, the idea of Germany’s Minister of Interior has not been supported in a unanimous way. Some critics consider that the system could lead to the improper use of the provided data.

One of the persons who oppose this idea is Germany’s Left Party parliamentarian, Ulla Jelpke. He stressed that “it’s superfluous and dangerous to turn the Central Register of Foreign Nationals into a mega data dump of the foreigners’ offices.”

Jelpke assumes that digitalization has provided the possibility to save fewer data in a central location.

Based on the German federal statistics office report, published in September,  one of AZR’s problems is that data is not kept up to date.

Such estimation was noted by “the last comprehensive data correction” of the register in 2004 as well as the census in 2011, especially departures of foreigners were considered to be underestimated.

“Already now, the foreigners’ offices don’t manage to keep their data in the AZR up to date. How will things unfold when even more data is saved there?” Jelpke stressed in this regard.

More than 30,000 visas had been issued to third countries’ specialists and trainers from March 1 until December 31, 2020, despite difficulties provoked by the Coronavirus pandemic, the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Home Affairs announced earlier this month, when it marked the first anniversary of the Skilled Workers Immigration Act.