German Interior Ministry aims to give some Syrians status that falls short of full asylum

Germany's Interior Ministry said Friday that it wants to give many Syrians arriving in the country a form of protection that falls short of full asylum and, under an agreement by government leaders this week, wouldn't allow them to bring relatives to Germany for two years.

The ministry said Friday Syrians who don't present authorities with direct evidence of individual persecution but are fleeing the civil war in general should be given "subsidiary protection," something that falls short of full asylum status but is granted to people who face serious risks in their homeland. While people with full asylum status get a three-year residence permit, those with "subsidiary protection" get a one-year permit that can be extended repeatedly.

On Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her coalition partners agreed that people with that status shouldn't be able to bring relatives to Germany for two years.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told Deutschlandfunk radio that other countries in similar situations grant residence "for a limited time, and we will do this in the future with the Syrians as well, in that we tell them: you will get protection, but the so-called 'subsidiary protection.'"

It wasn't immediately clear whether that was cleared with the rest of Merkel's coalition, and de Maiziere's ministry couldn't say how many people or what proportion of Syrians would be affected.

The government faces pressure to limit the influx of refugees into the country. Germany has seen more arrivals than any other European country; authorities registered 181,000 asylum-seekers entering Germany in October, bringing the figure for 2015 so far to 758,000. Syrians are the largest single group arriving.