Austria Passes Law to Force Migrants to Wait 3 Years Before Bringing in Families – UN Cries Foul
Austrian politicians passed a law on Tuesday that forces Afghan migrants to wait three years instead of one before they can bring in their families. The UN criticized the law saying it will cause families to suffer.
The migrants will also be given a folder as they cross the border, containing information about European fundamental rights and freedoms, and urged to comply with them. Austria hope they will follow the suggested guidelines.
Austria’s cabinet, facing record numbers of asylum requests this year, proposed a tough new bill on Tuesday to deter Afghans that the United Nations refugee agency criticized as likely to increase the migrants’ suffering.
The move follows the German interior minister’s call for Afghans, who make up a large proportion of the hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking refuge in Europe, to stay in their home country.
Austria’s new law would force most Afghans to wait for three years, rather than one year under current rules, to be able to bring family members to Austria. They would also have to have an independent source of income, health insurance and a flat.
The small Alpine country is the first west European country that hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Middle East and beyond reach on their trek westwards, and a major conduit for those moving on towards Germany and northern Europe.
“This is a political decision. Making family reunification rules stricter mainly affects Afghans,” Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told ORF radio to explain the bill.
“It is important for us to create clear rules here and, of course, to decrease (Austria’s) attractiveness.”
The Vienna office of the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR promptly criticized the new rules for family reunification, which it said would increase personal suffering and hinder successful integration. Many migrants are young adult men who hope to send for family members once they have found asylum in Europe.