Austria denies asylum to an Iraqi who is also married to an Austrian

Austrian authorities have rejected the asylum application of a 24-year-old Iraqi man, who is married to an Austrian citizen.

According to local news sources, the authorities rejected his application in October 2018 because they believed his life was not in any danger in Iraq, and his recent marriage to an Austrian citizen is not a valid reason for asylum in Austria. The young Iraqi met his wife at an asylum shelter where she volunteered at.

Authorities later suggested that he could maintain his marital relationship through Skype or short trips. A news report quoted an official saying: “The interest in keeping your marriage with an Austrian citizen, despite your return to Iraq, can be made in many ways, on Skype or on short holidays, for example.”

The Iraqi asylum seeker is now reportedly undergoing training to become a chef, and intends to file for an appeal with the court.

Similar controversial decisions have been made in Austria. In August 2018, the Austrian authorities refused asylum to an Afghani asylum-seeker who claimed to be gay, saying he did not “act” or “dress” like a gay person. They later admitted to errors in the way they portrayed the individual and the decision.

The conservative People’s Party (VPOe) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) have governed Austria since 2017, when they won the popular vote with anti-immigration rhetoric. Since then, they have sought to tighten rules on asylum and migration. They limited aid for asylum seekers and reduced funding and support for integration programmes.

Heinz Patzelt, the General Secretary of Amnesty International in Austria, told InfoMigrants, “the Vienna government is working really hard to not integrate even those who cannot leave the country because they have successfully received asylum or cannot be deported under other forms of protection.”

In November 2018, Austria also announced its decision not to sign the United Nations migration compact, which was aimed at improving the management of international migration. “Migration is not and should not become a human right,” said Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache. “We decide who comes into Austria and no one else.”

TMP – 25/11/2018

Photo caption: Austrian authorities suggest Skype calls and short trips for a rejected Iraqi asylum seeker married to an Austrian citizen.