German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, travelled to France on Monday to meet with top politicians from France, Italy and Spain. Their goal? To put border controls in place with Chad, Niger and Libya to help stem the flow of migrants travelling across the Mediterranean to Europe.
The meeting was hosted by President of France, Emmanuel Macron, who said that the huge influx of migrants heading to Europe was a problem that needed to be handled with “solidarity, humanity and efficiency.”
The flow of new migrants arriving in Europe is certainly an issue that needs to be tackled. Although the number of migrants reaching Italy by sea dropped by almost 70% in July and August 2017 compared with the same two months last year, migrants are finding new routes into Europe. It is also thought that the number of migrants travelling to Italy could once again increase should we not put prevent measures in place.
Without a doubt, this is something we need to be doing. Public opinion in Spain following their recent terror attack highlights this issue all too well. What we also need to address, however, is the influx of new families who are legally arriving (and are set to arrive) in Europe with “family reunion visas”.
German news outlet, BILD, exclusively revealed yesterday that the number of family reunion visas being granted in Germany is growing at a rather rapid rate. In 2015, 70,000 applications were granted. In 2016, this number increased to 100,000 applications, and in the first half of 2017, 60,000 applications have already been granted.
The majority of issued visas (102,000 since 2015) were granted to Syrians and Iraqis. This includes 24,000 in 2015, 48,000 in 2016 and 30,000 so far in 2017. It is estimated that the total figure for 2017 will be 72,000 visas; three times the figure from two years ago.
According to BILD:
“The Federal Government is expecting a sharp increase in the number of applications for family immigration, especially among Syrians. In an internal paper (exclusively for BILD), it is said that considering asylum decisions in 2015 and 2016, it is estimated that the number of Syrians who would be entitled to make up a family is approximately 267,500 people. From March 2018, this potential is currently being increased by 120,000 cases.”
This means that in the not-so-distant future, Germany is expected to have granted family reunion visas to almost 390,000 new Syrians.
It makes sense that these figures should decrease over time as immigration slows, however the above figures show a drastic increase in granted family reunion visas over the next couple of years. BILD have put down to visa applications having “long waiting times” of up to 16 months.
In reality, we don’t know what these figures will look like beyond 2018. It seems that we will have to monitor Germany’s immigration figures over the next couple of years in order to make an estimate.