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Hardship Commission

A hand puts a stamp on a document.
© Canva


The law only allows residence permits to be issued in certain cases. This can lead, for example, to foreigners being unable to gain a residence permit even though they are particularly well integrated into society.

Where urgent humanitarian or personal reasons demand that people remain in the country, a solution may be found if the Hardship Commission takes up their case.

Legal basis

The procedure for hardship petitions is laid down in the Hamburg Hardship Commission Act (Härtefallkommissionsgesetz – HFKG).


The Hardship Commission has the right to take up cases on its own authority and does so at the suggestion of a Member. As a rule, suggestions are only allowable if a petition has already been received on the same matter. This means that the procedure for hardship petitions can be closely coordinated with that of the Petitions Committee. The Ministry of the Interior, the supreme Land authority on the issue, decides whether or not to approve or reject a petition and informs the Hardship Commission and the Bürgerschaft. If the petition is approved, the Aliens Department (Ausländerbehörde) will issue a residence permit, in an exemption from the legal requirements.

The Ministry of the Interior can itself suggest hardship petitions to the Commission.

Appointment and composition of the Hardship Commission

The Hardship Commission is a body set up by the Senate. It is administered by the Bürgerschaft Chancellery on the principle of mutual assistance.

The Hardship Commission is made up entirely of Members of the Hamburg Parliament. Each parliamentary group represented on the Parliament’s Petitions Committee nominates one member. Hardship petitions require the agreement of all the members of the Commission. The Ministry of the Interior nominates one non-voting member of the Commission.


Hardship Commission Office

Ursula Herrndorf
Bürgerschaft der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg, Bürgerschaftskanzlei
Schmiedestraße 2, 20095 Hamburg
Fax: (040) 4279-10055