Available assistance

Residence permit

A victim of THB can receive a temporary residence permit, depending on their willingness to cooperate with state authorities and if the testimony is seen as necessary for criminal proceedings. During this period, the victim can legally stay and work in Germany. This includes undocumented victims who can receive a temporary residence permit if they agree to cooperate in criminal proceedings. The length of the residence permit depends on the expected length of the criminal proceedings but is often granted for a period of one year, with the possibility of prolongation.

More specifically, a victim can receive a temporary residence permit if:

  1. The temporary presence of the witness in the federal territory for criminal proceedings because of this offence is deemed necessary by the public prosecution or the criminal court and because their absence would make it difficult to shed light on the events;
  2. The witnesses have severed all ties with the individuals accused of having committed the offence;
  3. Victims have stated their willingness to testify as witnesses during the criminal proceedings relating to the offence.

If authorities take the aspect of humanitarian grounds into consideration, the residence permit can be renewed after the finalisation of the criminal proceedings.

Victims who fear for their safety in their country of origin can apply for asylum or residence permits.

Common types of services provided by specialised counselling centres/KOK Member organisations:

Victims of THB in Germany are entitled to anonymous assistance free of charge, regardless of their willingness to cooperate with state authorities or not. However, it is crucial that the victim has, or is provided with, a legal status in order to access rights such as healthcare, social benefits, shelter. Member organisations of the German NGO Network against trafficking in Human Beings (KOK) have a long experience of assisting victims of THB and as the network consists of NGOs solely it is important that the victim is informed about the existence of this network and the assistance provided by them. Together with its members KOK has developed standards for providing counselling and support for victims of human trafficking. The threshold for accessing existing assistance programs is low but the counselling centres can only refer to safe accommodation (except for those who have own shelters), organise medical care, organise financial subsistence (longer than for a few days) if the victim has a legal status. In these instances, the assistance is provided by specialised counselling centres and women shelters:

  • Safe accommodation
  • Supporting the victim in their contact with state authorities
  • Legal aid to enforce rights of the victim under residence and social law
  • Medical and psychological care
  • Vocational work
  • Interpretation and translation services 3
  • Supporting victims who leave Germany to get help in their country of origin