Innovative Best Practices


Name of the Practice

Bridge – Berliner Netzwerke für Bleiberecht


Labour Market Integration Social Integration

Country - Area/Region

Berlin, Germany

Geographical Coverage

Berlin, Germany


Since 10.07.2015

Level of the practice

Berlin, Germany (regional)

Type of activity


Partnership implementing the initiative

Bridge itself is a partnership between private sector organisations working with refugees (NGOs) and the Commissioner for Integration and Migration of the Berlin Senate. This composition of different actors is very effective in advising refugees, but also in political lobbying.

The bridge network cooperates Berlin-wide with other public institutions, companies and NGOs. There is currently good cooperation between bridge and the federal employment agency. Their employees are trained by the bridge staff in residence law to ensure high quality counselling at the respective institution.

Contents of the practice

Bridge offers assistance in relation to obtaining qualifications and finding employment and training opportunities, as well as general advice about questions regarding the access to the labour market. 

The ten subprojects of Bridge cover different tasks. Legal advice is offered by the Bridge staff at the Commissioner. This addresses refugees on issues relating to their access to the labour market but also social workers and other employees in providing legal trainings. They provide qualifications in nursing and care and work very closely with hospitals and other companies. The Paulo Freire vocational school is also part of the Bridge network. Über den Tellerrand has a 1:1-buddy program, Zentrum ÜBERLEBEN supports with psychological-social counselling and the GFBM offers advice on language courses.


The main goals of the Bridge network are:

  • Consulting (e.g. in questions concerning labour market, training, education, residence status)
  • Qualification (care sector, commercial-technical sector)
  • Placement in work & education
  • Lobbying for refugees on the labour market
  • Raising awareness of employers


Bridge was selected as best practice because:

  • of its success (quantitative in numbers of participants and job placements)
  • of its internal networking (which allows e.g. job counselling with parallel legal advice in order to secure a residence permit)
  • of its strategic partnership with NGOs and administration (e.g. for lobbying)

Evaluation of the practice

Bridge supports people residing in Berlin who are still in their asylum procedure, people with a temporary suspension of deportation or a residence permit on humanitarian grounds

Until now their participants were almost:

  • 40% with residence permit
  • 40% during asylum procedure
  • 20% with suspension of deportation
  • 70% men
  • 30% women


bridge has a total of 2200 participants and 13,500 brief consultations (July 2019).

Among the participants, the placement rate in internships, training or employment is almost 40%. In addition, there are placements in language courses, qualification measures, school and studies.

In addition, bridge holds regular training courses and specialist events and there are publications on the topic of labour market access.

Essential for the success of the project are in the first place the number of participants and their placement rate in employment, training or school. But at the same time, good networking and political influence are also considered a success.



The target group of the project often has difficulties with its resident permit. This means that there is not always (full) access to the labour market. With its integrated legal advice, bridge also wants to support those who initially do not have a work permit. Nevertheless, practical difficulties often arise here.

See the following example: In the qualification project at the Paulo Freire vocational school, a person with the legal status “suspension of deportation“ is supported in the field of nursing care and subsequently finds a training place. However, the foreigner authority has issued the person with a ban on employment because he or she has not presented a passport. Even if it is a deficient occupation and a pre-qualification already exists, the person may not start the training.


For the bridge project it is important to consider especially those people with residence restrictions, as they are excluded from many other projects and measures.


Residence rights are decided at federal level. For this reason, it is only possible to deal with residence law barriers to a very limited extent within the framework of the project.

One possibility is to contact employees of the foreigner authority directly in individual cases. This can work, for example, in the case of obvious mistakes. The law and the VAB (procedural instructions of the foreigner authority) serve as a reference framework for this.

Another option is to influence the Berlin implementation of legal scope via the administration itself. Both ways are possible primarily because the bridge network is embedded in the office of the Comissioner for Integration and Migration of the Berlin Senate.

A third way is political lobbying. This can also be used to directly address the legislator. bridge is only able to deal with problems in this way because numerous NGOs are represented in the project.

Adaptability/Replicability to other contexts

Acting in local networks - consisting of partners with different specialisations and strengths - can also be a good strategy in other contexts. Here, the mix of NGOs and administration is a particular advantage.


As the IvAF networks already exist in a similar form in other federal states, it has been shown that an up-scaling and transfer of these practices is possible.

However, a comparison shows that structural conditions are decisive: Rural area vs. urban area; political orientation of the local government; economic power / labour market; local strategic partnerships etc.

But the topic "participation of refugees in the labour market" and the "right to stay for refugees" is a long-term and comprehensive topic, which is why an up-scaling of best projects such as bridge makes sense.

Related Web site(s) of the practice

Related reports and resources developed by the practice

Follows: Arbeiten in Berlin

Contact Details